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FREE | MAY 6 – 13 / 2021

Volume 55 | Number 2777


A magical housing solution?


Documentaries to stir the soul




Vancouver’s crows have gotten a bad rep from just trying to protect their babies every spring



DOXA documentary reveals exploitation in gig economy



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Don’t believe the hype about angry crows: they’re really just trying to protect their young at this time of the year.

by Julia Mastroianni

abour relations in the gig economy are explored in a global context in The Gig Is Up, directed by Vancouver-based Shannon Walsh. The documentary profi les gig workers in the U.S., France, Nigeria, China, and other countries who work for Uber, Lyft, Deliveroo, and Amazon Mechanical Turk. In the fi lm, Walsh meets workers who are trying to make a living off these platforms but are faced with shrinking wages and the constant threat of being “deactivated”. Sidiki, an undocumented migrant worker in France who delivers food for UberEats, describes his job like this: “We protect the food more than our own lives.” For example, if he delivers a drink to someone and a bit of coffee spills in the bag, the customer might complain to UberEats, which could deactivate his account “like you’re nothing”, he says. He shows Walsh’s camera a path he biked for a food delivery one day. “Seven kilometres…€5.54 (about C$8.30).” Some drivers and delivery workers featured in the doc say they were making livable wages when they first joined an app,

May 6 – 13 / 2021

By Martin Dunphy Cover photo by www.junehunter.com



Life leases can offer some people a chance of obtaining affordable housing by buying the right to live in a home for as long as they like. By Carlito Pablo



The DOXA Documentary Film Festival includes a movie about the late punk singer Poly Styrene that was codirected by her daughter. By Steve Newton

Shannon Walsh’s The Gig Is Up brings forth voices of workers for food-delivery services.

only to see earnings drop as the market became more saturated. Others discuss the constant demands of a job that has been marketed as “flexibility”. In one scene, a delivery worker for Uber and Deliveroo says she feels pressured to be overly polite out of fear someone will give her a bad rating and she’ll be deactivated. Another worker says that after accepting and then cancelling three orders in a period of three months, Uber penalized them. According to Uber Canada, drivers and delivery workers can accept and reject any trip or delivery request they receive. When it comes to customer complaints, it’s only in “extreme and rare instances” that there may be an investigation that could result in loss of access to the Uber platform. “One thing that was really clear was that people’s experiences around the globe are more similar than different,” Walsh says in an interview. “We really wanted to make sure that we captured the kind of flattening of this global phenomenon, the way this kind of technology and platform-based apps are changing work.” Walsh notes that even though task-based work existed before, these new platforms are different. “The reality of what it means to be tethered to an algorithm is something that a lot of us haven’t really considered, the idea that we’re actually losing people work through bad ratings,” she says. “We’re not rating apps; we’re rating human beings.” Because Uber drivers aren’t paid by the hour, the company encourages them to be out in the city at all hours, since the more drivers on the road, the faster service will be—while still not paying them for time spent idling between passengers. g The Gig Is Up is screening at the DOXA Documentary Film Festival from May 6 to 16. It’s also being shown at the DOXA Drive-In next Thursday (May 13) at the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) Amphitheatre

MAY 6 – 13 / 2021

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Vancouver’s News and Entertainment Weekly Volume 55 | Number 2777 1635 West Broadway, Vancouver, B.C. V6J 1W9 T: 604.730.7000 F: 604.730.7010 E: gs.info@straight.com straight.com

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EDITOR Charlie Smith GENERAL MANAGER (ACTING) Sandra Oswald SECTION EDITORS Mike Usinger (ESports/Liquor/Music) Steve Newton SENIOR EDITOR Martin Dunphy STAFF WRITERS Carlito Pablo (Real Estate) Craig Takeuchi SOLUTIONS ARCHITECT Jeff Li

Here’s what people are reading this week on Straight.com.

1 2 3 4 5

Why play the lottery when you can just buy and resell a house? COVID-19 in B.C.: Dr. Bonnie Henry raises hope for outdoor arts events. Vancity’s only Indigenous board member defeated as two newcomers are elected. A guide to making homes in B.C. more sustainable and energy-efficient. Online petition urges David Eby to “officially repudiate flawed housing study”. @GeorgiaStraight

ART DEPARTMENT MANAGER Janet McDonald GRAPHIC DESIGNER Miguel Hernandez PRODUCTION SUPERVISOR Mike Correia ADVERTISING REPRESENTATIVES Glenn Cohen, Catherine Tickle, Robyn Marsh (On-Leave), David Pearlman (On-Leave) CONTENT AND MARKETING SPECIALISTS Alina Blackett, Rachel Moore CREDIT MANAGER Shannon Li ACCOUNTING SUPERVISOR Tamara Robinson


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Time for a truce in our annual war with the crows

Two Vancouverites who understand the quirky birds better than most say they see attitudes changing


by Martin Dunphy

arly May can be a magical time in Vancouver. It’s finally shirtsleeve weather but not summer hot. Residents have been enjoying weeks of showy pink and white cherry and plum blossoms, whose petals are now carpeting the sidewalks and lawns. Gardens are getting started, and tulips are blooming everywhere. Then, just when people are getting lulled into a seasonal stupor, usually around midto late May, the crow attacks start. Screeching, jet-black feathered divebombers harass people walking down shady sidewalks on their way to the neighbourhood store or just out for a stroll and some fresh air. Usually, the warning assault results in nothing more damaging than a peck to the back of the head or neck, with feelings more bruised than flesh. Nonetheless, local TV stations, newspapers, and blogs report on the frenzied actions of both “vicious” birds and their human “victims”. It’s all rather comical— and very predictable. What some people call “attack season” ornithologists and birders call “nesting season”. It happens every year, sometimes a little later or earlier than the year before, but always in May and June, sometimes into early July. And the crows’ behaviour, of course, is entirely instinctive: they are protecting their young from a perceived threat. Meaning you. There’s never any shortage of factual reporting to balance the sensational stories, yet there also appears to be no shortage of residents who seem to take the crows’ defensive antics personally. Some appear to be scared, a few even terrified. Bird attacks seem to stir a primal fear in many people, perhaps because of their sudden nature and the fact that the ambush comes from above, and usually from behind. This might be one of the reasons that director Alfred Hitchcock’s masterful 1963 shocker, The Birds, consistently ranks as one of the scariest movies ever made. For some reason, the annual annoyance seemed to grab Vancouver’s attention in a big way around 2015 or so. It might be no coincidence that in 2016, a Langara College continuing-studies instructor, Jim O’Leary, developed an interactive online map called CrowTrax, where anyone could mark an “attack” wherever it happened in the city. According to a Guardian 2018 interview with Leary, the map attracted about 1,000 users its first year, and 1,500 in the second. He claimed to have gotten 100 reports in just six hours one day. “It’s become a ther4


Crows are only protecting their young when they swoop at passersby every spring, and that instinctive behaviour shouldn’t diminish their admirable qualities. Photo by Md Sojibul Islam.

apy for people…people just need to tell their story,” he told the paper. Two Vancouverites would love to see the city’s population just learn to live with and appreciate crows for the fascinating animals that they are: highly intelligent and gregarious birds that have adapted extremely well to human environments.

her blog, snapping endless pictures, and fashioning jewellery with their images, she takes frequent walks near her home to check in with the latest developments in the lives of the crows that she has named and that recognize her. In a phone interview with the Straight, Butler said he thinks that locals are finally

Everybody seems to have a story about a crow, because we all interact with them. The crows are the most obvious wild animal in the city. – Rob Butler

Rob Butler is an ornithologist and SFU adjunct professor who has been studying birds for more than a half-century. He wrote his master’s thesis on the social organization of crows living on a small island in the Strait of Georgia, and he has been interviewed dozens of times about crow aggression and the famous crow roost in Burnaby’s Still Creek area. June Hunter is a photographic artist who lives in East Vancouver and is, by her own admission, almost obsessed with crows, along with its close relative, the raven. Besides writing about them on

MAY 6 – 13 / 2021

warming up to their feathered neighbours, and he is hopeful that the trend will continue and result in some kind of longterm truce, or perhaps even respect. “People hated them,” he said of feelings about crows in the 1970s. “But there has been a remarkable change in their attitude.” He attributes that change, in part, to scientific research, and he notes that people started being turned away at some talks and lectures he gave about crows—sometimes hundreds of people. “Gradually, science is changing all those attitudes,” he said. “Everybody seems to

have a story about a crow, because we all interact with them. The crows are the most obvious wild animal in the city.” He also gives a lot of credit to the remarkable story of a local legendary crow called Canuck that rocketed to international fame in 2016 after news hit wire services about it attempting to make off with a knife from an East Vancouver crime scene. The much-loved bird’s antics had already been regularly featured on local newscasts and in articles and blogs, and when it disappeared in 2019, a $10,000 reward was offered for its return. “It just shows how popular these animals are,” Butler said. “I think this is all very beneficial. “Crows are now the poster child of Vancouver.” For her part, Hunter—who has given names such as Mavis, Mabel, George Brokenbeak, Marvin, and Mr. and Mrs. Walker to several neighbourhood crows— said these birds would fascinate people if they only took time to learn about them. “They are so easy to watch and they have such personality,” she told the Straight by phone. “You would be a happier person if you could learn to be curious about what is going on…to understand the nesting season.” Hunter said those who make the effort to read her blog articles or books about crows have told her how their feelings have changed. “People say, ‘Oh, my god, I used to be scared of crows, but they’re so interesting.’ ” Watching and understanding crows and their personalities is an important part of Hunter’s life now, she said, likening her frequent observations to “watching Netflix…or listening to a radio show that you haven’t tuned into for a while”. “It just gives me a focus for my life.” Both Butler and Hunter said Vancouverites need to see that when crows swoop at passersby, they are merely defending their fledglings during a vulnerable couple of weeks after hatching. “They’re terrified that something will happen to their child,” Hunter said. Butler said that “if the young weren’t there, they wouldn’t be doing it…They’re just doing what you would do as a parent.” The simplest way to prevent such seasonal attacks? Hunter and Butler are both in agreement again on that score: wear a hat or carry an umbrella when you walk through a nesting crow’s territory. “Just wait; it will all pass,” Butler added. And Hunter offered some perspective about crows for fellow Vancouverites: “They’re not perfect. You have to accept that they will do their kind of thing.” g


Axing school police program was right decision


by Patti Bacchus

he reaction to the Vancouver School Board’s April 26 vote to cancel its 49-year-old school-liaison police officer (SLO) program was swift and predictable, with a lot of older white folks dismayed and—dare I say it—triggered, arguing that the SLO funding and staffing halt would be a loss for students. It was more of the same on social media the following night (April 27), when the New Westminster School Board voted to scrap their similar program with the New Westminster Police. Stand down, fellow white people. These decisions aren’t about us, nor should they have been. Most of us see police as people who serve and protect us, and we teach our kids that police officers are friends who are there to help. Not everyone is so fortunate. I’ve learned a lot about how my experience and perceptions are not the same as others who don’t look like me, and I know I have more to learn. The police murder of George Floyd in the U.S., and the subsequent outrage, demonstrations, and discussion that followed, were a wake-up call for those of us who don’t experience the reality of racism every day of our lives.

Sgt. Cindy Vance used to be assigned to the VPD’s school liaison unit. Photo by VPD.

I committed to reading and listening more, especially to Black and Indigenous voices. I watched many sickening video clips of police brutalizing and killing people of colour. I read about the shockingly disproportionate number of Indigenous people who have been killed by Canadian police. I listened to Indigenous mothers speaking about the fears they have of when their

cute little boys become teens and may not appear so cute and harmless any more, and their fears of them being harmed by police. I thought about the stupid things I did as a teen, and how my friends and I worried (a bit) about getting caught by police but never gave a thought to them hurting us. Why would we? We didn’t know anyone who’d ever been hurt by a police officer. Now I think about how I might feel if my father, sister, brother, mother, or cousin had been beaten by a cop. Or killed. What if I’d called police to request a wellness check on a friend I was worried about and police shot and killed her, like Chantel Moore? Or if someone I loved had been taken for a Starlight Tour by police in subzero temperatures. Or what if police had dragged me away from my family as a child and taken me to a residential school, where I was subjected to horrendous abuse, as they did do to thousands of Indigenous children? What if they’d done that to my mother? The key to making the right decision about the SLO program was to centre the voices of those who feel harmed and listen to them. Those are the voices that matter in this decision, not those of those who don’t get— because of their own, often unacknowledged,

privilege—why having police in a school makes some kids feel anxious or intimidated. The good news is that after 10 months of reviewing the program and considering its future, or lack thereof, the Vancouver School Board (VSB) trustees did just that. This is who the decision needed to be about. It was the right decision, although what I think isn’t what matters. SHOW US THE MONEY

The VSB’s SLO program will be cancelled, effective the end of this school year. The VSB will work with the VPD to establish protocols for dealing with emergencies and for when schools invite police officers to present on safety topics. That will leave program gaps that were filled by SLOs, but the VSB doesn’t have the money or staff to fill them. Last year, I did some rough calculations to compare how the respective budgets of the VSB and VPD had risen during the past dozen years, and it looks to me like the police budget went up almost 90 percent (!) since 2008, while the VSB’s went up about five percent over the same period. That tells you a lot about our society’s priorities and why the VPD can afford to allocate roughly see next page

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$2 million a year to the SLO program while the VSB had to cut its elementary band and strings programs and much more during the past few years. While the VPD appears to have more large military-style weapons and increasingly aggressive-looking vehicles to patrol the streets than ever, VSB teachers use their own money to buy classroom supplies and parents hold bake sales to buy learning resources. I have an idea: the VPD gets its budget from the City of Vancouver, which is governed by city council. The VSB gets its funding from the province. There is nothing to stop city council from redirecting the portion of the VPD’s budget that goes to the SLO program to the VSB to hire more counsellors, youth and family workers, or whatever is needed to fill gaps left by the SLO cancellation. All it takes is political will. Heck, wouldn’t it be great if they brought back school nurses? Imagine having trained

Across North America, debate is ongoing about whether police belong in schools… – Patti Bacchus

healthcare professionals on-site and available to support kids in a safe and confidential manner. Imagine them being able to connect children with other services to support their mental or physical health when they need it and working as a student-support team with school counsellors? It can be done. There is a precedent. When I chaired the VSB, I worked with the mayor on a program to have the city fund school meal programs as part of city council’s effort to create a more healthy and resilient city. I believe that funding continues to flow today.



Surely the same could be done with the VPD’s SLO funding. I challenge those who are concerned about the decision and the loss of SLOs in school to contact Mayor Kennedy Stewart and the city councilors and demand that the SLO funding be redirected to the VSB for next year. There’s no reason that trained youth workers can’t steer at-risk youth away from gang life just as well as police officers can, as just one example. Hopeful mayoral candidates for the 2022 municipal elections are already throwing their hats in the ring. Challenge them to make it a campaign commitment. PART OF A GROWING TREND

The VSB and New Westminster school board’s decisions to scrap school-liaison officer programs are part of a trend. The Toronto District School Board scrapped theirs in 2017. The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board voted to cancel theirs last year. The Edmonton Public School Board’s program was suspended this year and is under review, as is Calgary’s. Most large school boards in Ontario, including Peel, York, Waterloo, and Ottawa-Carleton have either scrapped their school-police programs or are reviewing them. Across North America, debate is ongoing about whether police belong in schools and what impact they have on Black and Indigenous students and students of colour. The VSB really had no option other than to vote the way they did. Even the board’s staunchest conservative, NPA trustee Fraser Ballantyne,

who argued last spring that the board should consider how “Caucasian” students feel about the program, voted to scrap it. It’s important to note this decision was not about individual VPD officers. Many have spoken about the commitment, professionalism, and compassion most SLOs bring to the job. I’ve known several myself over the years and have been consistently impressed and appreciative of their work. This decision is about systemic racism and the impact policing has had on Black and Indigenous Canadians and other people of colour. For those of us who have committed to reconciliation, as the VSB has, a critical step is acknowledging and educating ourselves about the history of policing in this country and how it has harmed Indigenous people and been used to oppress and incarcerate them. VPD chief Adam Palmer has been quoted saying systemic racism is not an issue in policing, suggesting a breathtaking obliviousness to history and reality in this country, where Indigenous people are disproportionately killed and harmed by police. There’s still a lot of work to do. The VSB and the New Westminster School Board took important first steps last week. Good on them. Now it’s up to city council to put the money that funded the SLO initiative into programs that support kids in schools in a way that makes them all feel safe. g Patti Bacchus chaired the Vancouver school board from 2008 to 2014.

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Life leases create affordable sense of community


by Carlito Pablo

eople often think about housing in terms of either homeownership or rental. There’s another type, a cross between—or a hybrid of—the two general categories. It’s called a life lease. Kate Mancer is a leading expert in Canada about this housing model, which ticks so many boxes that one might say it’s magical. And as the Vancouver-based advocate explains, this is precisely the reason why she titled her 2019 book The Magic of Life Lease: A Seniors Housing Solution for the 21st Century. “It really is a magical solution in so many ways,” Mancer told the Straight in a phone interview. Mancer is talking not only about seniors housing but also life lease’s ability to enable new and affordable housing for a wider population. The model works well with seniors because, typically, they own homes. When they sell, they can use the equity to acquire a life lease. To explain, a life lease is an agreement wherein a person purchases the right to live in a home for as long as the individual wants. The buyer pays a lump sum upfront. A monthly fee covers maintenance charges. When the person leaves or dies, the purchaser or their estate gets the money back. And depending on the terms, they may also get a portion of the property’s appreciation. From beginning to end, the ownership of the home stays with the developer, which is called a “sponsor”. Now, why would someone want to live in a life lease? For one, Mancer said that this housing form provides a high quality of life for residents.

The Aspen Green life-lease development in the Hastings-Sunrise neighbourhood is one of only two such projects in Vancouver, with the other being Coal Harbour’s Performing Arts Lodge.

“They create a very strong sense of community and a very satisfying environment for people living in them,” Mancer said. Affordability is another reason. “Appraisers will often say that if you don’t have title, that means the value of your unit is lowered by about 10 percent compared to a similar unit that you had a strata title to it,” Mancer explained. Sponsors of life-lease projects are often nonprofits, so the prices of the units generally reflect the cost of development. “They are being built on a nonprofit basis, so the typical developer profit of 15 or 20 percent is not a part of the life-lease equation,” Mancer noted. Another reason why life leases are desirable is that they lead to a better use of the housing stock. Mancer explained that by encouraging “overhoused” seniors to downsize, homes more suited to growing families become available. She cited as example the Cedar Valley Manor, a 42-unit life-lease development in

Mission. “The households who moved in that building were all living in single-detached houses, so they freed up 42 housing units for larger households, for families with kids,” Mancer said. Another reason why Mancer believes that life leases should be encouraged is that they can enable the development of housing projects that otherwise would not be possible. To illustrate, Mancer cited the case of the Performing Arts Lodge (PAL) in Vancouver. The housing development dedicated to performing artists is comprised of 99 socialhousing units, 12 life-lease units, and a theatre with space for rehearsals. PAL Vancouver opened in May 2006 at 581 Cardero Street in the city’s Coal Harbour neighbourhood. The nonprofit PAL Vancouver raised commitments of $3,144,000 for the lifelease units, thereby convincing the City of Vancouver, which owns the land, of its ability to become a sponsor. The city provided a $1-million grant.

Mancer is the principal of Lumina Services, a consulting company that focuses on seniors housing and health developments, and she is currently working with the Baptist Housing Society, a nonprofit that bought the Inglewood Care Centre in West Vancouver in 2020. Inglewood provides 230 long-term-care beds, and these will be replaced as part of the facility’s phased redevelopment. When completed, the project will provide homes for 600 seniors and staff. The project will also include 125 life-lease suites. The Baptist Housing Society says online that it will “leverage proceeds of initial life lease sales to cover the cost of construction”. This will “also enhance the affordability of other portions of the project where a private owner might otherwise harvest profits”. “By generating revenue for the society, it will help them finance the development of the other components on the site,” Mancer said about how landowning nonprofits, in general, benefit from life leases. Another plus for life leases is that the nonprofit gets to accumulate funds when someone moves out. This happens when the value of the property’s appreciation is shared between the sponsor and the outgoing resident. “When they have enough, they buy back one of the life-lease units, which they then rent out to lower-income households,” Mancer said. Life leases started in Manitoba and Saskatchewan during the 1980s. Mancer said that there are more than 300 life leases in Canada; of these, 20 are in B.C. In 2017, Aspen Green opened at 3365 East 4th Avenue in Vancouver’s Hastings-Sunrise. Based on Mancer’s listing, it’s the second and only life-lease development to follow PAL Vancouver in the city. g

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Unfairly maligned Mint Julep all about execution


by Mike Usinger

erhaps, to truly appreciate a Mint Julep’s simple elegance, one has to be a die-hard fan of America in general, and the American South in particular. Many aren’t. How weird being unable to appreciate not only the country that gave us sweet potato pie, Dolly Parton, and bourbon whiskey, but also one of history’s most enduring cocktails. Here’s a strange thing about the southern specialty loved by giants like William Faulkner, Teddy Roosevelt, and Ernest Hemingway: you’ll find no shortage of liquor nerds who hate it. I have a friend who’ll drink most anything, as long as it costs at least $16 or more, preferably served at the Keefer Bar in

Chinatown. He hates Mint Juleps. Then there’s the colleague, mentor, and conspiracy theorist I know whose affection for alcohol is great enough that he’s outfitted his Gulf Island sanctuary with an outdoors Frontier Townlike saloon. He loves country music, Maker’s Mark, and the films of Sam Peckinpah. And he hates Mint Juleps. Google “Mint Juleps are awful” and you’ll get a long laundry list of articles like “The Most Terrible Drink In The World Is The Most Popular Beverage Of The Kentucky Derby”. And “I’ll say it: Mint Juleps are gross”. And “Mint juleps - how to make them not suck”. The answerable question is “Why all

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the hate?” Especially given the drink’s unfussy simplicity. Here’s what goes into a Mint Julep: mint leaves, bourbon, sugar, and crushed ice. That’s it, and always has been since the 18th century. Assuming you like liquor, chances are pretty good you enjoy a good bourbon, whether the label reads Jim Beam, Jack Daniel’s, Pappy Van Winkle, Bulleit, Baker’s, Basil Hayden’s, or Straight From Bubba’s Backyard Bathtub. Given ice is an essential part of the process for 95 percent of cocktails on the planet, that ingredient shouldn’t offend you. Everyone, with the exception of Kourtney Kardashian, Kate Hudson, and Gwyneth Paltrow, loves sugar, so nothing to dislike there. And who—with the exception of people who not only have screaming halitosis but are fucking proud of it—doesn’t like the taste of mint? Now that we’ve established that the four Mint Julep ingredients aren’t a problem on their own, let’s look at why they don’t work for many when combined. But first, a little history. Going back a few centuries, the Arabic world gave birth to the golâb—a drink made with rose petals and water. To those conversing in Spanish Arabic, that became known as the “julepe”. Mediterranean mixologists came up with the idea of swapping in mint. And sometime in the late 1700s, the folks of Virginia began using ice and liquor in a mint drink that was by then dubbed the julep. Sorry Kentucky, but Virginia is indeed thought to be ground zero for the cocktail as we’ve come to know it. In his 1770 play The Candidates, Robert Munford made one of the first recorded references to the drink with an alcohol-addled character named Mr. Julip. Because the 1800s were when all-day alcoholism was good for you, no one judged you for whipping up a Mint Julep for breakfast, which was standard practice. Originally there was no need to reach for the bourbon when getting busy with the mint, ice, and sugar. Cocktail Nation founding father Professor Jerry Thomas used brandy and a splash of Jamaican rum, augmenting crushed mint with berries and a small slice of orange. By the 1930s the state of Kentucky had wrested ownership of the Mint Julep away from Virginia. Solidifying the win, in 1938 the cocktail was named the official drink of the Kentucky Derby, intertwining it with one of the most famous races in America. Today an average of 120,000 Mint Juleps are served at the official two-day event at Churchill Downs Racetrack. Each non-pandemic year, approximately 1,000 pounds of fresh mint, 60,000 pounds of ice, and endless raging rivers of sugar-dosed bourbon are combined

Muddling, not mashing, is key when making a perfect Mint Julep. Photo by Ivan Mateev.

for sartorially splendid revellers. And maybe the Kentucky Derby, which takes place every first Saturday in May, is the reason that Mint Juleps become a go-to drink for nonhaters every spring. Admit it: no matter how much you despise Donald Trump’s America and Senator Moscow Mitch McConnell, you’d love to play dress up at the Run for the Roses. Coming complete with a week’s worth of booze-soaked pre-parties, it’s like Mardi Gras for equestrian sports fans— and a chance to pretend you’re fancier (which is to say less-trashy) than you really are. With the Derby having just been run, and mint taking off in your garden—backyard or balcony—now’s as good a time as any to give the Mint Julep another try. While easy to execute, there are a couple of important rules to follow. Most important is not only using fresh mint, but also following the rules for incorporating it in your drink. Purists will demand using a silver cup, but your favourite IKEA glassware will do. Place a half-dozen or so mint leaves in the bottom and then muddle gently. The key word there is “gently”, which is to say you’re not making Kirkland-brand pesto here. Go easy and you’ll release the delicate oils in the mint. Make a pulpy mash and the bitter tannic acids in the leaves will crash the party. Next add ice that’s been crushed (use a Lewis bag and mallet if you have them, a Ziploc and a rolling pin if you don’t) to look like snow. Dump a half-cup in the glass and then add a tablespoon and a bit of mint-infused simple syrup if you’ve come prepared, or a heaping teaspoon of white sugar if you haven’t. Add more ice, two or three ounces of bourbon, and a mini-bushel of mint leaves as a garnish. Serve with a straw (plastic if you don’t give a shit about the environment; metal or at least recyclable if you do). God bless America, at least the good parts, which, while many will argue otherwise, includes the often-maligned Mint Julep. g


Traditional Korean rice cakes anchor new bakery


by Martin Dunphy

n international bakery chain that specializes in traditional Korean rice cakes has opened its first B.C. location in Richmond. Nam Dae Moon, which already has three locations in the Greater Toronto Area, recently staged a “soft opening” for its latest Canadian franchise, this one located in Richmond’s so-called Golden Village, in the Continental Shopping Centre. The bakery itself is located at unit 2132 at 3779 Sexsmith Road. David Peng, the event’s media contact, told the Straight by phone that although the shops sometimes have a few indoor tables, pandemic protocols would be followed for the opening. “It’s only a takeout place, so it’s not dine-in.” Peng said expansion in the B.C. market, probably with two more locations in the Lower Mainland, is being contemplated for the near future but “not at the moment”. (Peng confirmed in a later emailed update that those planned locations are for Vancouver and Burnaby, but no addresses were disclosed.) A news release described the bakery’s products as a low-sugar and healthy

Nam Dae Moon, a popular bakery chain in China that sells sweet and savoury rice cakes based on Korean recipes, now has a franchise in Richmond, with Vancouver and Burnaby to follow.

snack. “Nam Dae Moon is a bakery specializing in traditional steamed Korean rice cakes known as tteok. The chain was founded by an ethnic Korean-Chinese in China based on his family’s recipes for

healthy, chewy Korean rice cakes that are low in sugar.” Peng confirmed that characterization: “The rice cakes are actually not supersweet,” he said, adding that there are a

few sweeter treats for those so inclined, including one containing a whole Ferrero Rocher chocolate-hazelnut ball as its centre and another one described as “Oreo chocolate lava”. Personally, Peng said, he prefers the more conventional pastries. “I think that my favourites are the traditional red-bean and black-bean ones.” Besides the Korean-style snacks, there are some Japanese-inspired goodies, including the mochi-style pastries, especially daifuku, which are stuffed with fruit such as strawberries or bananas, sweetened bean paste, taro, sweet potato, or even salted egg yolk. Mango and durian mochi are touted as the chain’s top-rated examples. The release says that all pastries are hand-made daily, fresh-steamed, and made with natural ingredients, with plans to source “local and seasonal” products. According to a marketing article announcing the chain’s first expansion outside of China, in Singapore in November 2019 (the same year it launched its first Toronto shop), the company has 300 outlets in China, with its flagship store in Shanghai, where it first opened in 2016. g




1423 Continental St. • Open Everyday 11am-6pm MAY 6 – 13 / 2021




Bard on the Beach goes virtual in pandemic


by Charlie Smith

he premier Shakespeare festival in Western Canada has cancelled live performances for the second straight year, due to COVID-19. Bard on the Beach will continue with its season online, according to artistic director Christopher Gaze. “It’s been such a hard decision to give up staging the festival again this year,” Gaze said in a videotaped message released on May 4. “We feel it profoundly and we know that you do, too. “It’s a feeling of sadness,” he added. “It’s a feeling of loss.” Bard on the Beach executive director Claire Sakaki stood beside Gaze at an appropriate physical distance as he spoke to the camera in Vanier Park. The theatre company enjoyed a highly successful 30th anniversary season in 2019 before being forced to cancel live shows last year in the midst of the pandemic. Sakaki said on video that their organization “carefully weighed all the factors” before deciding not to proceed with live performances in 2021. “We watched the clock,” Sakaki declared. “We knew how much time it takes to build our site structures, even on a small scale, and to prepare our plays safely and

Bard on the Beach’s Christopher Gaze is feeling a sense of loss this year. Photo by Emily Cooper.

to our Bard standards in the midst of a COVID environment. “And our clock ran out May 1,” she continued. “But we know we made the right decision for Bard to keep our teams and community safe, to honour artistic quality, and to protect our financial future.” On May 3, the provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, told reporters that outdoor events with hundreds of people might be possible this summer. This came even as she ruled out giant celebrations like the Vancouver Pride parade. “What we hope—with the program

we are on now, with the amount of vaccine we have—is that we will be able to have some small outdoor events,” Henry said. “I can say there is not likely to be big events of any sort, even outdoors through this summer and into the fall and winter of next year.” Gaze assured Bard on the Beach lovers that the organization can carry on because of the tremendous support that it has received from the community during the past year. “Thank you for your love, for your loyalty; it truly lifts us up,” Gaze said. “We’ll be here, together again, under the tent in 2022.” g



AT ARTS UMBRELLA Registration now open! • Week 1: July 5-9 • Week 2: July 12-16 • Week 3: July 19-23 • Week 4: July 26-30

Photo: Rafal Gerszak



MAY 6 – 13 / 2021



Realwheels Theatre tunes in to the power of music by Charlie Smith

I felt very privileged to be a custodian of this company. – Rena Cohen

based movement toward equality, diversity, and inclusion, she feels that people with disabilities are still lagging behind other equity-seeking communities. “This is one of the ways that we are addressing this,” she stated. “We have partners—National Theatre School and Studio 58—and also with other theatre compan-


ies, like the Arts Club and Touchstone.” To make it more accessible, the Realwheels Acting Academy is offering a module-based curriculum to teach acting, movement, and voice. Students with disability can proceed through the program by taking courses in manageable time frames, like three hours a week. As for Cohen, she felt that this was a good time to leave Realwheels because it’s in a “pretty good place”. “I felt very privileged to be a custodian of this company,” she said. “To leave at the right time was important—and also to make space for other voices and somebody with lived experiences.” g

Realwheels artistic director Rena Cohen likens the company’s latest production to a variety show.

rovocatively edgy. Heartwarming. Rolling-on-the-floor laughing. These are three of the ways that Rena Cohen describes Realwheels Theatre’s latest production, which is her last after more than 11 years as the company’s artistic director. Wheel Voices: Tune In! continues the theatre group’s tradition of creating and producing performances that deepen people’s understanding of disability, albeit this time with a musical twist. Cohen told the Straight by phone that the company’s last major production, Comedy on Wheels, included some live music, which whetted community members’ desire for even more in this show. This time, segments were filmed in 14 performers’ homes and later edited into a tight filmed production with some of the semblances of a variety show. It includes rap, spoken word, and choral pieces. “There’s a really hilarious parody from the musical Chicago, ‘Cell Block Tango’,” Cohen revealed. “It’s a revenge fantasy.” She explained that there are some exceptionally talented musicians with disabilities in Vancouver, including Mark Ash, who was once in a band that opened for Blue Oyster Cult. He oversaw music composition and performance in Wheel Voices: Tune In!. Another is Dave Symington, cofounder of the Vancouver Adapted Music Society, who is among the performers. In addition, Cohen noted that the

show will include intense and moving moments, including a segment called “What You Need to Know About Me”, which came out of an exercise that arose early in the process. “That became a very interesting piece to stage and to share,” she said. The new production will have two virtual performances: 7 p.m. on Wednesday (May 5) and 7 p.m. next Friday (May 14). Last month, the company launched its Realwheels Acting Academy. It’s the first program in Western Canada focused on providing professional acting training to anybody who self-identifies with the disability community or is D/deaf (deaf since birth or before acquiring language). It also welcomes people with hidden disabilities or who are neurodiverse. “It was designed to be 100 percent customizable to training actors with disabilities,” Cohen said. “I think it’s important because it’s a real systems-change project.” She pointed out that 22 percent of Canadians identify as living with a disability, but that’s not adequately reflected on the country’s cultural platforms. Part of it, she added, is because of the lack of opportunities for training for people with disabilities—as well as the lack of outreach conducted specifically to prospective students with disabilities. “We’re starting to see that changing, but we still have a long way to go,” Cohen said. Although she welcomes the broadMAY 6 – 13 / 2021




Poly Styrene doc reveals rocker’s vulnerability


by Steve Newton

efore I watched the new documentary Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliché, I had no idea who Poly Styrene was. I vaguely remember hearing about a late-’70s punk band called X-Ray Spex and their quirky single “Oh Bondage Up Yours!”, but I had no clue about the band’s extraordinarily unique singer. Now I’m a huge fan of Poly Styrene. The film, codirected by Styrene’s 39-yearold daughter, Celeste Bell, and Paul Sng, recalls the trials and tribulations of the woman born Marianne Joan Elliott-Said, as seen through narrator Bell’s eyes. As a mixed-race female frontwoman in Britain, Styrene had to overcome rampant racism and bigotry while struggling with a mental illness that was originally misdiagnosed as schizophrenia before doctors determined that she suffered from acute bipolar disorder. Viewing Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliché, it doesn’t take long to be won over by the rocker’s personality. In early interviews with British music journalists, Styrene, just out of her teens, comes off as childlike and sweet. As Bell explains on the phone from her home in Barcelona, Spain, that vulnerability was something she wanted to portray in the doc. “My mom had a lot of vulnerability,” she says. “She was a very sensitive person, which I think is part and parcel of being a creative person. It enabled her to create wonderful music and write these brilliant songs, but of course it also opened her up to negative experiences.” Although X-Ray Spex only released one album during the punk era, 1978’s Germfree Adolescents, the band made a big first impression with Styrene’s unusual look, which included an unorthodox fashion sense—pointy shoes, granny cardigans, Day-Glo jewellery, military helmets—and

Poly Styrene’s quirky fashion sense included granny cardigans and pointy shoes, while her XRay Spex songs about consumerism and identity politics struck a nerve. Photo by Kino Library.

dental braces. Her provocative songs about consumerism and identity politics also caught people’s attention. “I think it was my mother’s lyrics that really made X-Ray Spex stand out from the other bands,” Bell offers. “I don’t think there were many bands in the punk era that were writing in such an insightful way as my mother was. It was quite unusual.” As well as showing her retracing her mother’s steps by visiting various venues and locations, Bell’s documentary—which she cowrote with Zoë Howe—takes advantage of the abundance of archival footage of her mom that was available. “It was a short-lived band,” Bell notes, “but they definitely seemed to capture interest very early on. There was always a lot of media attention on X-Ray Spex, but in particular on my mom.” At one point in I Am a Cliché, a clip

is shown from a Top of the Pops Top 30 chart countdown, with X-Ray Spex coming in at 23, ahead of bands like Wings, Squeeze, and Suzi Quatro. But although they enjoyed a fair amount of notoriety, especially in their native England, X-Ray Spex never thrived financially. “It was a very bad time for artists in terms of the contracts they were getting,” Bell explains. “They were young kids, basically, with no knowledge of the music industry or how it works, and they signed these contracts that gave them a pittance.” Things were looking up for X-Ray Spex’s chances of making it big when they travelled to New York City to play the famed punk club CBGB, but as the film artfully depicts, the trip spawned negative consequences, most involving Styrene’s mental state. The band’s time in New York did wind up delivering one joyous moment for Sonic

Youth guitarist-vocalist Thurston Moore, though, who recalls in the film how Styrene handed him the microphone at CBGB so he could holler the “up yours” part during “Oh Bondage Up Yours!” “It was like I was being knighted,” raves Moore, who was interviewed for the film along with the likes of singer-songwriter Neneh Cherry, fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, and Kathleen Hanna from Bikini Kill. The story of Poly Styrene’s life—and, by extension, her daughter’s—is downbeat at times. But there are also uplifting moments in the film, particularly during Bell’s beautifully shot journey to India to spread her mother’s ashes. As the doc winds down, Bell explains how her mom—who died from metastatic breast cancer in 2011 at the age of 53—always told her that she shouldn’t cry when people die because death is a beginning, not an end. Earlier in the film, Bell is heard saying that she thought her mom was trying to carve out a name for herself as Poly Styrene. So does she think she accomplished that goal? “Well, maybe not for herself, necessarily. What she did was she carved out a place for a lot of other people later on—especially women in music and women of colour in rock music, specifically. “What my mother did will live on, and she had to go through some tough times for that to happen, but everything that she did was worthwhile—not just for herself but everyone else.” g Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliché streams as part of the DOXA Documentary Film Festival, which runs from May 6 to 16. It’s also at the DOXA Drive-In next Saturday (May 15) at the Pacific National Exibition Amphitheatre.

Indigenous film tackles opioid-epidemic issues DOXA REVIEW

KÍMMAPIIYIPITSSINI: THE MEANING OF EMPATHY A documentary by Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers streaming at the DOXA Documentary Film Festival from May 6 to 16. It will also be shown at the DOXA Drive-In next Friday (May 14) at the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) Amphitheatre. d THE BODY Remembers When the World Broke Open filmmaker Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers’s new documentary is both an intimate and expansive portrait of an Indigenous community grappling with the opioid epidemic. Set primarily on the Kainai First Nation in Alberta, Kímmapiiyipitssini (a Blackfoot word that means “giving kindness to each other”) profiles several people who candidly 12


MAY 6 – 13 / 2021

Kimmapiiyipitssini: The Meaning of Empathy included the Kainai Nation’s emergency medical team and took years to film.

discuss their struggles while frontline doctors (including the director’s mother, Esther Tailfeathers) attempt to effect a paradigm shift in thinking around addiction treatment—

from 12-step abstinence programs to harm reduction. Shot over five years and narrated by the director, the movie is a methodical, vérité portrait of nitty-gritty work. In addition to visiting people’s homes and listening to personal stories, Tailfeathers shows the kind of tireless grassroots work—in clinics and boardrooms, on street corners and at community events—required to convince people this new epidemic needs a new approach. She also captures hostile pushback in scenes showing users of a (now shuttered) safe-injection site in Lethbridge being surveilled and harassed by the local community. Not only are doctors working to change the hearts and minds of wary people grappling with deep traumas but they’re up against structural forces, racism, the weight of historical injustice, and government apathy. What emerges is a compelling look at work that exists in a space between patient resolve and intense urgency.

by Kevin Ritchie


Refugee and long-term care come alive on-screen


by Charlie Smith

ry to imagine what it’s like sponsoring a person you don’t know to immigrate to Canada. That’s the premise of a National Film Board offering at this year’s DOXA Documentary Film Festival, Someone Like Me, which takes viewers inside a Rainbow Refugee Circle of Hope. These are volunteers who sponsor an LGBT person to come to Canada to escape persecution in their home country. Directed by Sean Horlor and Steve J. Adams, this intensely personal documentary tells the story of Drake, a young Ugandan gay man who expresses heartfelt gratitude to the Vancouverites who agreed to backstop him during his first year in Canada. Someone Like Me shows many sides of Vancouver, including the astonishing kindness of strangers in our city. It’s enough to whip up feelings of patriotism in even the most hardened antinationalist. But Drake’s propensity to party after his arrival creates friction within the group, with some expressing dismay as others remain eager to support him on his journey. The heroism of Rainbow Refugee’s Vancouver founder, Chris Morrissey, is on full display at the beginning. It only later becomes apparent that some unforeseen challenges can come to those providing

Someone Like Me is a National Film Board production that explores some of the moral issues faced by a group of Vancouverites who decide to sponsor a gay refugee from Uganda named Drake.

sanctuary to LGBT people in Canada. “Canada is the only country in the world that has legislation for a refugee program that specifically reaches out to LGBT people globally,” Morrissey says at one point. By the stirring end of this film, one can only say “hallelujah”. LOVE: THE LAST CHAPTER

Most Canadians will never enter a seniors residence—in the 2016 census, for example, 93.2 percent of those 65 years and older lived





Love: The Last Chapter and Someone Like Me will be streamed at the DOXA Documentary Film Festival from May 6 to 16.



in private dwellings. So unless someone has directly felt the impact of a COVID-19 death in a seniors facility, it’s hard to truly comprehend the pain of loved ones and employees who have faced this head-on. But Dominique Keller’s poignant NFB documentary, Love: The Last Chapter, can go a long way toward building Canadians’ empathy for those living in a such residences. Shot in the Silvera Aspen facility in Calgary before COVID-19 cast a pall over long-term care homes, it revolves around three elderly

couples who’ve kept the flame of love alive even after their bodies deteriorated with age. Romance is in the air between Jim, who gets around in a wheelchair, and Dianne as they twirl around the dance floor. A blind man named George rues the day when he’ll be separated by death from his precious wife, Doreen, but he knows she’s okay whenever she starts snoring like a truck driver. And Ruby and Victor playfully cuddle up in bed. Keller shows the kitchen workers preparing meals, the residents going on outings, and the hopes and fears that come with living in what Ruby calls “God’s holding pen”. These are authentic, loving, caring people coping with unimaginable challenges—and not the caricatures of seniors so often depicted in Hollywood movies. Under normal circumstances, Love: The Last Chapter would come across as a captivating glimpse into a world that few of us can understand. In the age of COVID, it’s a vivid reminder of how love continues to prevail in the generation that has been mowed down by a horrific virus. g





A.N.A.F. #298 has applied to transition from a private liquor primary club licence to a public liquor primary licence and change of operating hours at 3917 Main Street, Vancouver. Person capacity will be 150 persons inside. Hours of liquor service will change to 9 AM to 1 AM Sunday to Thursday and 9 AM to 2 AM on Fridays and Saturdays. Residents and owners of businesses located within a 0.5 mile (0.8 km) radius of the proposed site may comment on this proposal by: 1) Writing to: THE GENERAL MANAGER C/O Senior Licensing Analyst LIQUOR CONTROL AND LICENSING BRANCH PO BOX 9292 Victoria, BC V8W 9J8 2) Email to: lcrb.sla@gob.bc.ca PETITIONS AND FORM LETTERS WILL NOT BE CONSIDERED To ensure the consideration of your views, your comments, name and address must be received on or before June 2nd. Please note that your comments may be made available to the applicant or local government officials where disclosure is necessary to administer the licensing process.

MAY 6 – 13 / 2021




Husband’s desire for FinDom abuse confuses wife by Dan Savage

b YOU’VE SAID THAT everyone is entitled to a “zone of erotic autonomy”. I was wondering if you thought that “zone” extends to sending thousands of dollars to a “FinDom”. I’m a 33-year-old straight woman and I love my husband and we have a great (or so I thought) sex life. He’s very dominant and controlling in bed and I’m very submissive, and I thought we were well-matched sexually. So it was a shock for more than one reason when I stumbled over evidence that he’s been sending money to a female sex worker who calls herself a FinDom. This has been going on for nearly three years! It seems clear from their messages (I have read them all) that they’ve never met in person (she clearly states that she never meets in person with her subs) but she sends him degrading personalized videos after he sends her money roughly once every other month. The amounts are small, but they add up. We are more than comfortable, so the issue isn’t the money. And while my husband has never complained about what I spend on a personal trainer or my hair or body treatments (admittedly, a lot), this is obviously different because he’s masturbating over these videos. I don’t really want to degrade him, and I obviously couldn’t dominate him financially, as our finances are shared. My husband says he doesn’t want to be degraded by me, but he was nevertheless willing pay a complete stranger to heap insults on him? I don’t understand. I thought we had a great sexual connection. I also thought I knew who he was, erotically. I’m confused and don’t know what to do. - Feeling Insecure Necessarily, Doubts About Marriage Now

First things first : You actually have a great sex

life (from the sound of things); your husband clearly loves you (if this is your only issue);

Dan Savage says those into power exchange often like to switch roles. Photo by Inna Mikitasa.

and his dominance in the sack isn’t an act, FINDAMN. It’s just that having control isn’t the only thing that turns him on. Every once in a while, he wants to give up control. Maybe he should’ve come to you to get


this need met and couldn’t bring himself to ask—for fear of rejection, for fear of spoiling your D/s dynamic—or maybe he sensed you wouldn’t enjoy degrading him and/or being degraded by you wouldn’t work for him. Backing up for a second: you say you’re “more than comfortable”, FINDAMN, which is filthy-rich-person code for “we have tons of money”. So while I’m opposed to one person in a marriage spending significant amounts of money without their spouse’s knowledge, I’m going to climb out on a limb and guess that this isn’t money you missed. No mortgage payments went unpaid; no vacations were cancelled; no kids were yanked out of private schools. Even if your husband sent this woman $9,999 dollars over the last three years—the highest figure that keeps us in the “thousands” range—that works out to $278 dollars a month. I’m guessing the actual amount spent was far less than that, FINDAMN, and in no way impacted your comforts. (But here’s hoping Joe Biden’s tax hikes on the wealthy do!) As for the seeming contradiction—your husband dominates you and submits to this woman—it’s not that hard to explain what’s going on. While you’ve probably never been to a big gay leather/fetish event, FINDAMN, if you should ever go you would meet dozens of men who have both Doms and subs. So the guy you saw being dragged around on a leash on the first night will be dragging someone else around on a leash the second night. Because very few people into power exchange are 100 percent dominant or 100 percent submissive; one guy can bring out a gay guy’s submissive side and another guy can bring out his dominant side. Similarly, you seem to bring out your husband’s dominant side—much to your delight—while this other woman brings out his submissive

Email: mail@savagelove.net. Website: www.savage lovecast.com. Follow Dan on Twitter @FakeDanSavage.

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side. So it would seem your husband is a bit of a switch; in his case, FINDAMN, he’s mostly dominant but also enjoys being submissive too. And being submissive to an online FinDom once in a while doesn’t mean there’s anything inauthentic about your husband when he’s dominating you. If you don’t want to degrade your husband—if you or if he or if you both prefer your roles to be fixed (which is common among kinky switches)—and your husband is willing to keep this connection 1. online only, 2. below an agreed-to amount, and 3. to himself (if you don’t want to hear about it) or shared (if you do), I think you should allow your husband to have the outlet. Again, you can spare the money and your husband hasn’t done anything stupid—he hasn’t given this woman access to your savings accounts or written her into his will. He’s paying this woman for a little dominant time and attention every now and then. And while what your husband did (basically purchased some interactive porn) does feel cheating-adjacent… I gotta ask: have you ever hired a personal trainer just because he was hot? Have you ever chosen a hairdresser because you liked to look at him? Have you ever gone out of your way to get body treatments from a VGL male masseuse? And then thought about one of those guys—or all three of them—while you were masturbating or having sex with your husband? If you can identify any small zones of erotic autonomy that you’ve carved out for yourself, FINDAMN, allowing your husband to continue enjoying the small zone of erotic autonomy he’s carved out for himself might come a little easier. g

Is hiring a Construction Operations Manager Greater Vancouver, BC.Perm, F/T Greater Vancouver, BC.Perm, F/T Salary: $85,000 / year Requirements: College Salary: $85,000 / year Requirements: College diploma, several years of experience. diploma, several years of experience. Main duties: Manage construction site daily Main duties: Manage construction site daily activities;Plan construction schedules; Ensure activities;Plan construction schedules; Ensure the quality of construction work performance; the quality of construction work performance; Provide budget planning; Hire employees and Provide budget planning; Hire employees and subcontractors; Order supplies, tools and subcontractors; Order supplies, tools and equipment; Maintain daily logs, progress equipment; Maintain daily logs, progress reports etc; Resolve any issues that arise; reports etc; Resolve any issues that arise; Maintain and oversee safety standards. Maintain and oversee safety standards. Company’s business address: Company’s business address: 19-4160 Bond Street, Burnaby BC V5H 1G2 19-4160 Bond Street, Burnaby BC V5H 1G2 Please apply by e-mail Please apply by e-mail hrwhitecrow@gmail.com hrwhitecrow@gmail.com

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