FREE | SEPTEMBER 16 – 23 / 2021
Volume 55 | Number 2796
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Therapist’s alarming admission
ROBIN HOOD In this election campaign, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh wants to take from the ultrarich to give money to tenants, pay down student debt, and fund national pharmacare and dental programs HORROR FILMS
Make the Canada Disability Benefit an election priority
By Charlie Smith Cover photo courtesy NDP
10 REAL ESTATE
The number of sales of Vancouver homes worth $10 million or more continued to rise into 2021, according to Sotheby’s. By Carlito Pablo
THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT
Kier-La Janisse has parlayed a lifelong love of horror movies into a career that has led to the Vancouver International Film Festival. By Steve Newton
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B.C. advocates are fighting for a brighter future for the next generation. Photo by Danny Nee.
On June 22, 2021, the federal government responded by introducing legislation to create the new Canada Disability Benefit. The federal government has crunched the numbers, concluding it would have reduced the government’s general poverty-reduction targets by 50 percent. Less than two months later, however, the election was called, which means new legislation to establish a Canada Disability Benefit will need to be introduced by the next elected government. If you believe it is time for a Canada disability benefit, contact candidates in your riding. Candidate information is available through Elections Canada. g Tim Louis is a Vancouver lawyer and former city councillor and park commissioner.
B ook EVENT OF THE WEEK
d IF YOU’RE EXASPERATED by the lack of climate coverage in this federalelection campaign, then you might want to take in a free talk by Seth Klein on Saturday (September 18). At 11 a.m., the
Jagmeet SIngh has tried to differentiate himself from the Liberal and Conservative leaders, but will that be enough for the NDP to hold the balance of power?
by Tim Louis
he time is now for a Canada Disability Benefit. My good friend, community organizer and author Al Etmanski, has been hard at work for many years to reduce and/or eliminate the poverty experienced by 1.4 million Canadians with disabilities. We should never count our chickens before they hatch, but victory may be just around the corner. Most parties in the current federal election have included some form of increased financial commitment to people with disabilities in their platforms. The exceptions are the People’s Party of Canada and the Bloc Québécois, which have made no commitment to the Canada Disability Benefit or any other increase in financial support for people with disabilities. The campaign for a basic-income type of program for disabled people began in 2016 here in B.C. That’s when Inclusion B.C., Disability Alliance B.C., the B.C. Aboriginal Network on Disability, the Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN), Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion, UVic academic Michael Prince, RDSP Action group chair Norah Flaherty, and Etmanski came together, developing the concept with help from former senator Hugh Segal. The movement to institute a Canada Disability Benefit is now being led by Disability Without Poverty. According to Statistics Canada, approximately 6.2 million Canadians over the age of 15 report having at least one disability. More importantly, 41 percent of all Canadians living below the poverty level are disabled, approximately 1.4 million individuals. A recent study by the nonprofit Angus Reid Institute working with PLAN found that 89 percent of Canadians are in favour of a Canada disability benefit.
September 16-23 / 2021
Vancouver public-policy analyst will discuss his book, A Good War: Mobilizing Canada for the Climate Emergency, with host Ross McKeachie as part of the annual Word Vancouver festival. In researching the book, Klein spent a great deal of time examining how the Canadian government mobilized the country to fight the Second World War. And he draws lessons from that experience to explain how we need a similarly massive response from governments to address the climate crisis, which was on display to everyone when a heat dome descended over B.C. in late June, killing almost 600 people. g
SEPTEMBER 16 – 23 / 2021
by Charlie Smith
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COVID-19 in B.C.: Nearly 2,000 new cases; health workers to be vaccinated. Organizer of hospital protests claimed that you can’t catch a virus. Violent sexual assault leaves senior with lifethreatening injuries. Vancouver penthouse with exclusive swimming pool sold for $7.35 million. Unit with monthly rent of $3,722 meets city’s definition of “affordable”. @GeorgiaStraight
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THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT
Jagmeet Singh sets his sights on the billionaires
by Charlie Smith
ver since Douglas Fairbanks played Robin Hood in a 1922 silent film, Hollywood has been enamoured with this swashbuckling outlaw of English folklore. Over the next few decades, dashing leading men such as Errol Flynn, Sean Connery, Kevin Costner, and Russell Crowe all played Robin Hood, a hero who robbed from the rich and gave to the poor. Robin Hood’s antagonist, the detestable Sheriff of Nottingham, protected the oligarch of his day, the king, by enforcing unfair taxation on the common folk. The sheriff was the antithesis of Robin Hood in that he had no empathy for what average people had to endure.
In this year’s Canadian election, the closest thing to Robin Hood is NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who’s the politician most eager to take from the rich. And in his world, there are two Sherrifs of Nottingham protecting the oligarchs—Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole. “One of the key problems that we’re highlighting—whether it’s with the climate crisis, whether it’s with a rigged economy, or whether it’s with housing—we’re saying really clearly, ‘The billionaires are making out like bandits,’ ” Singh told reporters on September 11 during a campaign stop in Vancouver Granville. “Whether that’s in the housing market or the biggest pollut-
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THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT
SEPTEMBER 16 – 23 / 2021
Jagmeet Singh and his wife, Gurkiran Kaur Sidhu, hope that when they cast ballots in this election, they will have more voters on-side with the NDP’s tax-the-rich message. Photo by Jagmeet Singh.
ers or in the economy: those at the very top continue to exploit the system, and Liberals and Conservatives have let them do it.” With Singh’s oft-stated mantras about taxing the ultrarich and the billionaires, he has positioned himself outside the boundaries of traditional Liberal-Conservative thinking. In advancing his arguments, he points to a Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives article written by Alex Hemingway showing that billionaires’ wealth rose by $78 billion in the first year of the pandemic. Singh also cites a Parliamentary Budget Office study showing that as much as $25 billion in government revenue per year is not collected because it has been legally transferred offshore. In addressing these issues, Singh has demonstrated his Robin Hood approach through various policy prescriptions, including a one percent wealth tax on those with assets of $10 million or more. Singh claims that this would generate about $13 billion per year in revenue by the fifth year of an NDP federal government. Also under a federal NDP government, people earning more than $210,000 in annual income would face a top marginal tax rate of 35 percent, up from 33 percent. It’s not a huge hike, but enough to send a signal that this NDP is more inclined to pluck the wealthier geese to a greater degree than either Trudeau or O’Toole. In addition, Singh has proposed boosting capital-gains taxes on investors in the
The billionaires are making out like bandits. – NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh
stock market by lifting the inclusion rate from 50 percent to 75 percent. This means that investors would have to multiply any gain by this amount to determine their taxable capital gain. It’s a move that the NDP says will generate more than $10 billion per year in the final two years of its five-year fiscal plan. Then there’s a proposal to boost corporate tax rates from 15 percent to 18 percent, where they stood in 2010. The NDP says that this will increase revenues by $6.1 billion per year by year five. Overall, Singh’s plan to raise revenues by between 7.81 percent to 8.99 percent in each of the next five years is very similar to U.S. president Joe Biden’s five-year fiscal plan. It contains similar annual percentage increases, largely derived from imposing higher taxes on the ultrarich and corporations. “Our offer to Canadians, what makes us see next page
Jagmeet Singh says an NDP government would provide 1.7 million affordable homes, and he blames Justin Trudeau for doing nothing about high home prices during his six years in office.
really different is, we’re going to take them on directly,” Singh continued. “We’re the only party that’s said we’re going to tax the billionaires. We’re going to take on the superwealthy. And we’re going to make sure companies like Amazon start paying their fair share.” According to Singh, these windfalls, taken from corporations and the wealthiest Canadians, are going to help finance a national pharmacare program, cancel up to $20,000 in student debt to current and former students, fund a national dental care program, and create rent subsidies of up to $5,000. He might as well have borrowed this line from Disney’s 1973 version of Robin Hood: “We never rob. We just sort of borrow a bit from those who can afford it.” These NDP policies are presenting a serious challenge to Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau as he tries to woo voters who want to prevent a Conservative victory. Whenever Trudeau says that the Liberals are the only hope for forming a “progressive government” and that the NDP platform demonstrates “unlimited zeal against the successful and wealthy”, Singh responds that the Liberal leader and O’Toole have a great deal in common with one another. Then Singh repeats his meme that the NDP is the only party willing to go after the ultrarich. This was on display again during the recent visit to Vancouver Granville, where Singh promised to fight for residents “to make sure that they can find a home that’s within their budget”. He made this astonishing pledge in one of the most expensive areas to live in all of Canada. “First-time homebuyers are competing with large corporations with deep pockets that are trying to snap up property to make profits off,” Singh told reporters. “They’re using our housing market like a stock market—and that’s something we’ve got to stop.” He neglected to mention that municipal and provincial governments, including the NDP in B.C., play key roles in housing prices. That’s because municipalities have power over zoning and the province owns the vast majority of Crown land. Moreover, Singh has not promised to extend the cap-
ital gains tax to the sale of principal residence—a policy that would likely alienate homeowners across the country, even if it would contain rising costs. In this campaign, Singh has pinned the blame for high home prices on the Liberals, calling it “Justin Trudeau’s housing crisis”. He keeps repeating that Trudeau had six years to fix the problem, questioning how he can be trusted now. “Our plan is, all together, 1.7 million homes that will be built and renovated and retrofitted—homes that we can find that are in our budget, that are affordable,” Singh promised. “This is purpose-built rental. This is cooperative, not-for-profit housing, and homes that people can buy that they can actually afford…that’s in their budget.” But Singh also pointed to an obstacle in the way of achieving these goals: the “big money” in housing. That, Singh declared, is represented in the candidates representing the Liberals and Conservatives in Vancouver Granville. The Liberal, Taleeb Noormohamed, bought and sold more than 40 properties since 2005; the Conservative candidate, Kailin Che, “defended speculators in court, allegedly”, according to Singh. (In fact, she represented homeowners challenging the speculation tax.) “So we’ve got on both sides people that are making things worse,” Singh charged. “People that are using this housing market as a stock market and the people that are defending those that are speculating. Both are on Mr. O’Toole’s team and Mr. Trudeau’s team.” This again dovetailed well with Singh’s Robin Hood–style marketing message: take from the rich and give to the common people. “We are different,” the NDP leader continued. “Our candidate, Anjali [Appadurai], is someone who’s committed to making sure people can find a home that’s in their budget.” DON’T KID YOURSELF—a great deal of marketing goes into any political campaign. And to be effective, it needs to be authentic. see next page
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THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT
It worked magnificently with Layton at the helm in 2011, with the NDP sweeping much of Quebec and winning 103 seats across Canada. But the NDP faltered badly in 2015 under Mulcair, who was eclipsed on the left by the more charismatic Trudeau. In 2019, the NDP fell to just 24 seats in Singh’s first run as federal leader as Trudeau drove home the point that the only way to stop a Conservative government was by voting Liberal. The NDP’s share of the popular vote shrivelled to just below 16 percent. As of this writing, the party is just over 19 percent in the CBC poll tracker, which suggests it will win more seats.
from previous page
According to a paper published in Political Psychology in 2008, which is cited on the American Marketing Association website, liberals are more open-minded, creative, curious and novelty-seeking than political conservatives. Conservatives, on the other hand, are “more orderly, conventional and better organized”. Corporations like Nike have tried to appeal to liberal-minded consumers by embracing those who upset the conservative status quo, such as former quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who took a knee during NFL games. A study reported in the Harvard Business Review also demonstrated how conservatives and liberals respond differently to marketing messages, according to the article on the American Marketing Association website. Conservatives were far more likely than liberals to choose a mug with the slogan “Just Better”, whereas liberals were more likely to choose a mug with a message stating “Just Different”. Apple capitalizes on this idea with its motto “Think Different”. By zeroing in on his differences with the Liberals and Conservatives—in effect, his uniqueness as a political brand—Singh’s approach in this campaign is the epitome of how to market a product to progressive consumers. His pitch is that the NDP is unique. It’s different. And so is its leader. It’s demonstrated by his turban, his beard, his Sikh identity, his engaging banter with reporters, and even the three-piece
Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood, like Jagmeet Singh, targeted the ultrarich in order to comfort the poor.
black suit and black tie that he wore in the televised English-language leaders’ debate. That choice of attire set him apart from the blue-suited Trudeau, O’Toole, and Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet, reinforcing Singh’s uniqueness once again. In Quebec, the NDP is using the slogan “Oser”, which means “dare”. Singh is daring to be different by proudly wearing a turban, reflecting his heritage and his faith. And he’s doing this where the premier and the leader of the Bloc Québécois oppose people in public life wearing religious symbols. With his ease in making off-the-cuff comments, Singh is also dramatically different in a personal style from his stodgy
yet fiscally prudent predecessor, former NDP leader Tom Mulcair. In 2019, University of Saskatchewan political scientist David McGrane wrote a well-received book about how the NDP came to embrace political marketing under the leadership of Jack Layton. In The New NDP: Moderation, Modernization, and Political Marketing, McGrane explained how the party’s leader was “presidentialized”, ref lecting the important role that he played in forming the party’s brand. That occurred as the NDP backroom staff embraced big data and social media to advance its political prospects.
IN THE FINAL DAYS of the campaign, Trudeau is again telling progressive voters that they must vote Liberal if they want to stop the Conservatives. But this time, Singh is emphasizing his differences with the Liberals and the Conservatives to a much greater degree than he did in 2019. If Singh succeeds in beating back the Liberal challenge and ends up with the balance of power in a minority government, he’ll demonstrate that Robin Hood campaign tactics have a place in Canadian politics. That’s when voters will find out if he’s truly willing to demand higher taxes on the superwealthy and ensuring that people can find a home within their budget. If Singh is serious about this, he’ll make these necessary conditions for the NDP to support whichever federal leader wins the most seats in Parliament. g
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THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT
SEPTEMBER 16 – 23 / 2021
Marketing expert explains Jagmeet Singh’s appeal by Charlie Smith
politics are on the rise. “In Trudeau and the Liberals, you see a performance and a veneer without a lot of execution and follow-through on integrity,” Dhaliwal said. “With the Conservatives, you see a lot of really cynical masks—like they’re trying to kind of keep their white Canadian base engaged while doing this weird diversity and inclusion dance without ever being sincere about that.” He feels that Singh, on the other hand, has a willingness to fight for the underdog and stand up for injustice while embracing the Sikh concept of “oneness”. “His advocacy for First Nations communities through to environmentalism is all wrapped up in that notion of oneness,”
Dhaliwal explained. “It doesn’t begin and end with humanity. It’s a continuum of humanity through to the entire animal kingdom and nature and the environment as one big cohesive piece that all must thrive together.” He described this as a “beautiful philosophy” but added that it’s made all the more relevant by Singh’s willingness to enter the political arena and be bloodied by the battle. According to Dhaliwal, this combination of values underscores Singh’s message on the campaign trail. “There’s a very different approach to his politics as opposed to, I think, the nature of politics,” he said, “which is about trading favours to attain power.” g
Vancouver digital-agency owner Mo Dhaliwal became friends with NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh back in 2012 and was immediately impressed by his ability to connect with those around him.
he founder of Skyrocket, a Vancouver digital agency, knows a great deal about branding. After all, this is what Mo Dhaliwal does for a living. But he’s reluctant to use the word “brand” in connection with his close friend, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh. “Sometimes when we use terms like brand, we’re talking about a veneer or a representative personality rather than the person themselves,” Dhaliwal told the Straight by phone. “And Jagmeet is a rare case where I feel like the word brand is almost the least appropriate.” It’s because he sees Singh as a truly authentic person. “He’s a dynamo,” Dhaliwal said. “The beautiful thing about Jagmeet Singh is that the person that you see on TV, the person that you meet on the street, and the person that you hang out with at home are all quite congruent. It’s the same person.” Dhaliwal declared that Singh has a “superpower” for making connections with other people. That was apparent to Dhaliwal back in 2012 when they first became friends, a year after Singh had been elected to the Ontario legislature. “Part of the reason I fell in love with the guy back then was because he was optimistic, enthusiastic, and incredibly engaged and present with me,” Dhaliwal recalled. “We were meeting in Toronto for the first time. There was no strategic advantage for him to spend the time with me that he did or for being as present with me as he was, but he was interested in forming a relationship with another human.” Several years later, Singh was thrust into the national spotlight after being elected NDP leader. “But the part that has remained consistent throughout that is his incredible ability to connect with people and his interest in them,” Dhaliwal continued. “He’s truly concerned about people
and wants to know their story and wants to connect with them.” Dhaliwal believes that NDP organizers have wisely understood that they have a candidate who speaks authentically. So they’ve let him be free to express concerns that resonate with a large segment of the Canadian population, and especially with those who are marginalized. That was on display earlier this year when Singh teared up as he spoke about the lack of drinking water on First Nations reserves. The NDP leader pointedly refused to speculate on how that might resonate with him personally as an expectant father. Singh emphasized on this occasion that it wasn’t about him; it was about Indigenous people. “We have a guy who is continually in touch with his following via Instagram, TikTok, and what have you on a continual basis,” Dhaliwal said. “And that amount of outreach can’t be scripted. There’s no way of trying to manipulate and mold and shape every moment of every day for everything that he posts and what he does in life.” Had the Trudeau Liberals kept their promise to introduce electoral reform after the 2015 election, Dhaliwal believes that the NDP would probably be attracting more support. “The Liberals are kind of given this wide berth and wide latitude to do whatever they want because that’s our only buffer against a Conservative government,” he said. Plus, Dhaliwal argued that there’s an inherent bias against the NDP at the national level, even though the economy has not ground to a halt in B.C. under NDP rule. But even without electoral reform, he noted that Singh is still tracking far ahead of his party in terms of his personal popularity. In the meantime, Dhaliwal worries that Canada has been “treading water” politically as the climate crisis is intensifying and white supremacy and divisive
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I SAW A: I AM A: WHEN: SEPTEMBER 12, 2021 WHERE: Horseshoe Bay, West Vancouver I was walking out of the long-term parking lot in Horseshoe Bay when you surprised me when you said “Hi” to me. Asked me how I was and wished me a good shift at work. I was very taken aback by this because you seemed so genuine and kind to a total stranger. I think you could see on my face I was stressed. Thank you for making my day. I regret not stopping to talk to you longer. My wish is that you see this & we can go for coffee! Maybe Horseshoe Bay again?
YOU THOUGHT MY NAME WAS MIA AT MAIN STREET JJ BEAN
I SAW A: I AM A: WHEN: SEPTEMBER 6, 2021 WHERE: JJ Bean Main and 14th I was sitting outside the Main and 14th JJ working on my computer. You walked out of the cafe and we looked at each each other. You walked away, but a minute later you came back. You asked if my name was Mia. I said no, and you said I was the wrong person. I thought you were cute and was stoked that you came back to talk to me, even though I wasn’t who you were looking for. If it doesn’t work out with Mia, next time try me!
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I SAW A: I AM A: WHEN: SEPTEMBER 8, 2021 WHERE: West End - Whole Foods Enjoyed your smile as you pulled into the parking lot, as I was walking up Robson. You , a pretty blonde driving a little sports car. Me, the guy with the hat and grocery bag. Coffee ?
I SAW A: I AM A: WHEN: SEPTEMBER 4, 2021 WHERE: Liberty cafe Main St I was standing outside Liberty cafe Early Saturday afternoon as you were walking by and I couldn‚Äôt keep my eyes off your beautiful smile and eyes. You crossed over and headed to front & company. You had a yellow/mustard?? Top on. Cutoffs and blundstones. I had some beat up denim and boots with a vest. Couldn‚Äôt do what I felt compelled to do as I was waiting for a friend but I think we should cross paths again so I can indulge this compulsion ;)
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I SAW A: I AM A: WHEN: SEPTEMBER 5, 2021 WHERE: Holt Renfrew Vancouver You were going down escalator at Holt Renfrew and I was going up. Our eyes lock, we both turned back to look...couldn't come find you and introduce myself was with a friend. Me orange T silver grey hair, you stunning smile. Love to meet.
TALKING WITH BLONDE ENGLISH CYCLIST ON SEAWALL WEST END/YALETOWN
I SAW A: I AM A: WHEN: SEPTEMBER 2, 2021 WHERE: Seawall West End/Yaletown I was cycling behind you on the seawall around Granville Bridge area, you almost got run into twice by people coming into your lane coming in the opposite direction. I commented to you how silly some people are lol and we kept chatting for a few minutes. You have been here in Canada for 4 years and I told you I have been here for 11. You were wearing blue cycling gear and have blonde hair. I would love to cycle with you one day? Should have asked for your number!
HANDSOME MOUNTAIN BIKER FROM PRINCE GEORGE IN COQUITLAM PARK
I SAW A: I AM A: WHEN: AUGUST 28, 2021 WHERE: Pinecone Burke Prov. Park Today, around 4 pm, my girl friend and I were on an Evo car at Pinecone Burke Provincial Park, in Coquitlam. You spotted us as we drove by you while looking for a place to park, then you rode by us, put on the most beautiful and mesmerizing smile and said “Good afternoon” All I could think of doing was reply and ask you if the park entrance was to the left or right, then you answered you didn’t know either cause you were from Prince George. I should have introduced myself and asked for your number, but I just got speechless instead. If you see this, I’d love to see you again, maybe for a walk/hike.
GOOD-LOOKING GUY ON DRAKE + SEYMOUR
I SAW A: I AM A: WHEN: AUGUST 28, 2021 WHERE: Drake + Seymour I was looking awful coming back from the gym and you looked amazing in a navy shirt and grey (I guess?) pants. You and your friend passed by me while crossing Drake + Seymour, close to Shoppers. You aknowleged me and said a discreet “hi” as we passed by each other. You two were heading towards Yaletown. I’d love to get to know you. Your perfume was so good too!
TROUT LAKE CYCLISTS
I SAW A: I AM A: WHEN: AUGUST 23, 2021 WHERE: Trout Lake You were sitting on the bleachers around Trout Lake near the bike path. You were wearing a blue shirt and had an orange bike near by. Around 3:45 today, I biked past, and you smiled and nodded your head. Would be interested in chatting. Cheers.
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THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT
SEPTEMBER 16 – 23 / 2021
Here’s something really odd about Alberta, which happens to be the birthplace of Northern Keep Vodka: everyone dutifully obeys the speed limit, at least around Banff. “Keep right except to pass” seems to be a provincial mantra—the only time you see a car in the left lane on a highway is when a driver has decided the posted speed limit of 90 kmh is too slow. As soon said drivers pull out to pass—usually dutifully doing 92 kmh—they zip back into the right-hand lane. The point of this observation? That would be Albertans, and by proxy, Alberta distillers, seem to understand the importance of attention to detail. The makers of Northern Keep Vodka pride themselves on a close relationship with the province’s farmers, who provide the prairie rye (70 percent) and winter wheat (30 percent) used in the distilling process. Add glacial Rocky Mountains waters to the process, and you’ve got something as (Western) Canadian as Banff National Park, Drumheller, and the ever-fascinating Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump UNESCO World Heritage site. Smooth is the first thing that comes to mind with Northern Keep Vodka, which no doubt has everything to do with the fact that
the spirit is distilled five times. Syrupy will also do as a starting descriptor, especially if you’re drinking it neat and straight from a glacier-cold bottle tucked in the back of the freezer. Lemon-zest hits right off the top, as does a soft wash of blue grama grass, with a snappy finish bringing fresh pepper and bright-eyed grain spice. Sometimes, as anyone who’s ever driven the highways of Alberta knows, attention to detail is a beautiful thing. COCKTAIL TIME
The weather’s beginning to turn, which means it’s time to start thinking warm and comforting thoughts. On ice also works. APPLE HARVEST 1 oz. Northern Keep Vodka 1 oz. honey syrup 3 oz. Apple Cider Ginger beer to top Cinnamon stick To make with hot apple cider, combine ingredients in a mug and give a quick stir, garnishing with a cinnamon stick. For cold apple cider, combine all ingredients in a rocks glass filled with ice, and garnish with a cinnamon stick. g
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New culinary and cultural fests illuminate Chinatown
by Craig Takeuchi
his year, the traditional MidAutumn Festival, which is also known as the Mooncake Festival, will be held on September 21. Those who want to learn more about this annual celebration of the moon, as well as the Cantonese language, can attend a two-part online event from the Vancouver Public Library. The first session, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on September 15, will provide casual Cantonese language lessons for beginners, presented by Justin Cheng, an honorary assistant curator of the history museum at Queen’s College in Hong Kong. Then on September 22, Wongs’ Benevolent Association vice-president Jeffrey Wong will teach participants how to make a traditional pomelo lantern, which is akin to a Jack-o’-lantern. This second session is being presented during the new Fire Dragon Festival. It will celebrate the Fire Dragon from September 24 to 26 during the Mid-Autumn Festival. This festival draws upon a Hakka tradition originating in Hong Kong more than a century ago that involves creating a dragon out of straw and incense and dancing for several days in order to banish misfortunes. In addition to dance workshops, a firedragon demonstration, and art installations, the festival will include mid-autumn
Mooncake demonstrations will be held at the Fire Dragon fest. Photo by Insjoy/Getty Images.
elements, such as lantern-making, mooncake demonstrations, and moon-gazing. There will also be Chinese opera, storytelling, mahjong, and more. Meanwhile, the Noodlelicious Festival will showcase Chinese noodles at participating restaurants throughout Chinatown. It’s all being presented by the City of Vancouver’s Chinatown Legacy Stewardship Group’s culture and heritage working group, along with the Vancouver Chinatown BIA Society, the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, the Chinese Cultural Centre, and the Chinatown Society Heritage Building Association. Further information is available at the festival website at firedragonfestival.com. g
V accine CARDS ON MENU Dr. Bonnie Henry wants restaurant and bar patrons to show B.C. vaccine cards.
d WHEN THE PROVINCE announced a new B.C. Vaccine Card program last month, it led to a sudden surge in vaccinations. But according to one Vancouver restaurateur, it didn’t lead to a similar onslaught of customers on the first day of the program’s rollout. Natalie Rivas, co-owner of Bodega on Main, told the Straight by phone that there was “definitely less business” in her establishment on September 13 than what she normally sees on a Monday. “Sales were down,” Rivas said. However, she added that it’s still too early to tell whether the so-called vaccine passport will lead to more business in the future. But one thing is clear: it’s added to her overall costs.
“We have had to hire someone to do the passport at the front door,” Rivas said. “So, obviously, that’s an expense and something new for us.” She emphasized that keeping clients and staff safe is paramount to her. “I think some people are reluctant [to dine out] not because they’re antipassports or anything like that,” she noted. “They’re reluctant that it’s going to be cumbersome or difficult or timeconsuming.” The B.C. Vaccine Card is required to enter nonessential social and recreational events and businesses. But it’s not necessary to enter grocery stores, pharmacies, or health-care facilities (but not fast-food outlets or coffee shops). Businesses have an option of scanning a QR code by using a smartphone, tablet, or other QR code reader. People must have had at least one vaccination for COVID-19 to be permitted entry into these nonessential social and recreational events and businesses. As of October 24, two doses will be necessary to get through the door. g
by Charlie Smith and Carlito Pablo
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Luxury home sales set ablaze in Lower Mainland
by Carlito Pablo
n July this year, a realty company that specializes in luxury homes released a report about the top-tier segment of the property market. Sotheby’s International Realty Canada indicated that “renewed confidence in Canada’s post-pandemic return and economic recovery bolstered gains across the country’s major metropolitan luxury real estate markets through the first half of 2021”. These include the Greater Vancouver area, where demand has set the market “ablaze” for high-end properties. At the very top of this submarket are “ultra-luxury” homes of $10 million and over. Sotheby’s reported that sales of mega-expensive residences quadrupled to 16 properties from January to June 2021, compared to four during the first half of 2020. A scan of the market tracking by realestate information site Zealty.ca suggests that sales of these high-value homes are continuing into the year. At least 45 homes priced $10 million and more have been sold so far this year. The sales were in the markets served by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board. Based on Zealty tracking, the latest deal was a Whistler property at 2980 Trail End’s Lane, which sold on September 1 for $14,475,000. The “ski-in/ski-out estate” spent 25 days on the market after Engel & Völkers Whistler made the listing on August 7 with an asking price of $15,950,000. The home, called Antara in the listing, features five bedrooms. An additional double-bunk room provides “sleeping space for up to 18 people”.
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The most expensive transaction ($22.7 million) recorded by real-estate site Zealty.ca this year in Greater Vancouver was this luxury residence at 5365 Seaside Place in West Vancouver.
The most expensive deal tracked by Zealty was the sale of a West Vancouver waterfront property that sold on August 3. The residence at 5365 Seaside Place changed owners for $22.7 million. The 8,800-square-foot estate spent 28 days on the market after Angell Hasman & Associates (Malcolm Hasman) Realty Ltd. placed the property on the market on July 6 for an asking price of $24,800,000. “Situated on its own private, fully gated peninsula with unobstructed ocean views”, the property has a “natural shoreline” measuring 500 feet. Features include a “resort style infinity swimming pool and outdoor spa” and a boathouse. The Zealty tracking does not include the private sale in July of the Belmont Estate
in Vancouver for a reported record price of $42 million. Sotheby’s was the listing agent for the 4743 Belmont Avenue mansion owned by philanthropists Joseph and Rosalie Segal. A public-relations pitch for a media release in August identified the new owners of the Belmont Estate as Peter and Stephanie Chung of Surrey. The August 4, 2021, release announced that the Chung couple made a $250,000 donation to the Vancouver General Hospital and the UBC Hospital Foundation to “support the recruitment of epilepsy program fellows” at VGH. The donation honours the memory of their son Joseph, who died at the age of 32 “after undergoing complications following a seizure while swimming”. He suffered
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from “multiple disabilities including autism and epilepsy”. Zealty CEO Adam Major told the Straight that ultraluxury homes of $10 million and over occupy the top one percent of homes sold in the market. Like many things, the definition of what constitutes a luxury home is a relative concept. To explain, Major noted that 32,917 properties consisting of detached homes, townhouses, and condo units have sold in the Greater Vancouver area so far this year. Out of those, only 10 percent have sold for more than $2.13 million. So, by definition, a luxury home in Greater Vancouver is any over that price, Major said. However, he noted that one “can’t get much of a house on the West Side [of Vancouver] for $2.13 million”. “Although most of us would be happy to own a home worth $2.13 million, in Point Grey, with that kind of money, you would be living under an overpass,” Major said. As a side note, Major said that the more a house costs, the more realtors earn in commission. He knows this because he is a realtor and managing broker with Holywell Properties. He added that this is why the real-estate industry supports more government stimulus in the housing market. Amid the ongoing campaign for the September 20 federal election, Major said: “We are caught in a loop where no industry or political party actually supports any incentive to actually reduce house prices.” Major also mentioned that even the NDP’s support for a longer amortization period does not help. “You know who wants longer amortizations? The banks! They would be happy to lend us all money forever,” Major said. g
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City to ponder heritage title for historic building by Carlito Pablo
The Anglo-Canadian Warehouse Company building on Beatty Street in Yaletown was designed by a San Francisco architectural firm in the early 1900s. Photo courtesy City of Vancouver.
n November 23 last year, the City of Vancouver’s development permit board approved an application by Reliance Properties to redevelop a Yaletown heritage property. The plan involved adding four storeys to the Anglo-Canadian Warehouse Company building at 835 - 837 Beatty Street. The plan also includes the rehabilitation of the 1911-era brick building near the Terry Fox Plaza downtown.
One of the considerations for the issuance of a development permit for such buildings is a bylaw designating them as protected heritage properties. Jason Olinek, assistant director of planning with the city, has prepared a report for council regarding such a designation. “This will secure the Heritage Building from demolition and unsympathetic exterior alterations that may affect its heritage value,” Olinek wrote in his report.
The report is included in the public hearing agenda of council for September 21. Olinek explained that the two-storey commercial warehouse is “valued for its connection to the development of the historic Yaletown district in the early twentieth century, and for its longstanding warehouse and commercial uses”. “It is further valued for its association with the San Francisco–based architectural firm of Wright, Rushforth, and Cahill, designers of numerous similar buildings in the vicinity,” the city planner wrote. Its character-defining elements include “brick pilasters and lintels, and banks of wooden-sash, multi-pane windows, among others”.
“Together with 849 and 869 Beatty Street, and 101 Smithe Street, the building forms a part of a unique industrial heritage streetscape; a cluster that is reinforced by the existing heritage buildings on the opposite side of the block, fronting Cambie Street,” Olinek stated. Furthermore, “The Canadian Pacific Railway serviced these warehouses by way of a spur line that extended into the rear lane, and provided for loading and unloading of goods for storage and distribution throughout the region.” Reliance Properties plans to use the ground and lower levels for retail, levels two to five for office use, and the rooftop for amenity space. g
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Flamenco veteran savours a return to the stage
by Charlie Smith
lamenco dancer and choreographer Veronica Maguire is feeling extremely happy these days, notwithstanding a pandemic that has delivered a devastating blow to live entertainment during the past 19 months. That’s because her Victoria-based company, Alma de España Flamenco, is getting ready for its first full-length theatrical production since COVID-19 emerged in Canada. It’s called Familia, which seems appropriate, given that her son, Gareth Owen, plays guitar and his wife, Denise Yeo, will be dancing with her. Other than a very small show in a seniors residence in Victoria, this upcoming performance at the Vancouver International
Flamenco Festival is the first time that Alma de España Flamenco will be on-stage in a theatre. “This will be a real treat for us,” Maguire told the Straight by phone from Victoria. “Preparing for this show has been a godsend for us, really.” Maguire has been operating the Alma de España Flamenco school in Victoria for nearly 30 years. One of its faculty members, Amity Skala, will be dancing in the show, which will also feature legendary Vancouver f lamenco singer Oscar Nieto. “I’ve got a full cast,” Maguire said with satisfaction. “Oscar is doing some wonderful things with the show. He’s going to be
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Veronica Maguire (foreground) has been dancing and teaching flamenco for decades, so it was rough on her when the pandemic put an end to live performances. Photo by Lori Garcia-Meredith.
singing a special piece that I’ve done with him in the past.” She readily acknowledged that the pandemic has been really rough on her, and not only because it has deprived her of opportunities to choreograph and dance in front of audiences. It’s also had an impact on her as a flamenco instructor. This folkloric music and dance, which blossomed in southern Spain in the 19th century, is highly interactive. The “cuadro” form involves hand-clapping (also known as palmas), dancing, guitar work, and singing all coming together in a communal atmosphere. “Flamenco is so people-oriented; it’s totally interactive,” Maguire said. She resorted to teaching flamenco on Zoom, and she’s pleased that a handful of very dedicated students stuck with her. “I didn’t know what I would have done without them,” Maguire said. “It kept me going. But it was hard to actually get the flamenco going on Zoom. “Now we’re in class, it feels so much better,” she continued. “I taught a couple of classes today. Everyone is so happy. So happy.” Maguire never knew that she would become so enamoured with flamenco when she was studying dance at Ryerson University. It was only after she attended York University that she began embracing this art form, in part because she could pick up the choreography very quickly. She joined the Paula Moreno Spanish Dance Company in Toronto and has maintained her love of flamenco ever since. In 1985, Maguire met her husband, guitarist Harry Owen, who was from Vancouver. Their son Gareth was born in Toronto, and
the family moved to Victoria in 1990, where they founded Alma de España Flamenco. Harry Owen was an outstanding flamenco guitarist and devoted instructor who died in 2010. His passion for this music lives on through his son Gareth, who now has several students, including 24-year-old flamenco guitar sensation Iminah Kani. She performed at the Vancouver International Flamenco Festival earlier this month. Maguire said that she’s very proud of her son, who also plays traditional flamenco music, like his dad. “Some of the stuff he’s done is his own interpretation as well,” she stated. “A lot of it is based on traditional melodies and he has also put in his own flair.” Her daughter-in-law, Yeo, is no slouch either. Not only is she on the faculty of the family’s dance company and school, but she has also trained with many international flamenco artists. In 2017, Yeo cofounded Palabra Flamenco, which integrates traditional flamenco with English-language poetry and storytelling. Her show, La Palabra en el Tiempo, appeared at several fringe festivals, including Vancouver’s. At the school, she teaches choreography and palmas. According to Maguire, flamenco is an art form that attracts a wide variety of people—and they’re no longer just the Roma people and Spaniards living in Andalusia, where it became so popular more than a century ago. “We are the foreigners of flamenco,” Maguire quipped. “And we are the ones who keep flamenco alive!” g Alma de España Flamenco will perform Familia at 8 p.m. on September 24 at the Waterfront Theatre.
Shakespeare polarizes characters in Done/Undone by Charlie Smith
males played by Gallant. In one scene, he plays a fictional academic, Martin Gibeaux, who is actually highly critical of Shakespeare. Here, he debates a pro-Shakespeare academic character, Anaad Prewal, portrayed by Sandhu, who delivers an articulate defence of The Taming of the Shrew and Shakespeare’s female characters. In addition, Sandhu plays the bard himself, explaining in a rather egotistical way why his plays are so important and why he put the audience at the centre of everything he wrote. When the Straight asked Besworth what the two actors brought to their multiple roles, she paused for a moment. “Charlie is my partner,” she replied. “It’s hard to have perspective on that, to
be quite honest, but I would say he brings deep humanity to every role he plays. And an incredible work ethic. He’s so rigorous with his process and with his text.” As for Sandhu, Besworth described her as “magical on-screen and on-stage”. Besworth was already planning to write a play for both of them when the idea came up of two academics debating Shakespeare’s relevance. “They were right on the ground level of it, for sure,” she said, “and then carving characters knowing them was such a wonderful process as a writer.” g Done/Undone is available on-demand BardontheBeach.org until September 30.
Charlie Gallant (left) and Harveen Sandhu play a multitude of characters in Kate Besworth’s Done/Undone (directed by Arthi Chandra), a documentary about Shakespeare’s tricky legacy.
he 38 plays and 150 poems by William Shakespeare are at the heart of the western canon. According to Kate Besworth, who wrote a film called Done/Undone about Shakespeare’s legacy for Bard on the Beach, there are 21 Shakespeare-oriented theatre companies in Canada. “I would say we are taught from an early age in Canada in this country to venerate Shakespeare as kind of a symbol of western literature,” Besworth told the Straight in a recent phone interview. But does his work merit such high regard, given how women and racial and religious minorities are portrayed in his plays? That question lies at the heart of Done/Undone, which was directed by Arthi Chandra and features actors Charlie Gallant and Harveen Sandhu, playing a variety of characters. “The objective was to get people excited about thinking critically,” Besworth said. “I really didn’t want to prescribe a solution or even prescribe an opinion to the audience. I wanted them to come away with a balanced argument on both sides in terms of pro-Shakepeare and anti-Shakespeare. But I wanted them to have their own conversations about it and to, hopefully, take this kind of critical lens and apply it to all of the things that we enjoy and elevate and idealize in our society.” At one point in Done/Undone, Sandhu’s character named Isabella, who is speaking to the audience after her performance in Measure for Measure, bluntly declares that Othello was not a “real Black man”. “He’s a white man’s idea of Blackness,” she says. “He’s an idea, not a person.” It’s a riveting moment. In fact, Besworth relied on accounts of academic works of female artists and scholars of colour in writing this and other provocative ideas expressed by Isabella in this scene in the film. “One of the really exciting parts for me
He’s a white man’s idea of Blackness. He’s an idea, not a person. – Done/Undone’s Isabella on Othello
in crafting this was doing all of this academic research and understanding that academics—and female academics of colour, especially—have been looking at this over the last 20 years,” Besworth said. Her goal was to bring their theories and ideas forward in an accessible and entertaining way. In a similar vein, there is one scene entitled “Übersetzung”, which is the German word for “translation”, presented in a style of theatre known as German Expressionism. Standing on a box on a spare stage, Sandhu delivers highly misogynistic lines from several of the Bard’s plays with an English accent over a haunting background score. Each time she does this, Gallant follows up by explaining in a German accent what Shakespeare was actually writing in contemporary language. The words are full of hate and contempt for women. Some of these lines were taken from The Taming of the Shrew, which is one of Shakespeare’s more controversial plays. Originally written as a comedy, nowadays it’s often presented in a more critical way, according to Besworth. “My question is: do we need to keep using this material or can we make something new of it?” Besworth asked. Yet the film also contains stirring praise for Shakespeare—and not only by white SEPTEMBER 16 – 23 / 2021
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Fall books season arrives with plenty of choices
by Susan Cole
OUR COUNTRY FRIENDS
his is more than a bit of a buzzkill, but COVID may have us hunkering down again soon. Even if we don’t have to for public health reasons, the weather will probably drive us into our homes this winter, where books can spark our imaginations and fulfi ll our craving for ideas. Here are some suggestions.
By Gary Shteyngart (Random House) Novels with characters in lockdown were bound to deluge us, and—even if you’re the type to dread that scenario—a book by Shteyngart, one of America’s most entertaining writers, is hard to resist. A Russianborn novelist, his psychiatrist wife, their precocious child too deeply into K-pop, a struggling Indian American writer, a successful Korean American app developer, a world traveller with three passports, and a provocative Southern essayist all appear to be surviving until a movie star threatens to burst their bubble. Out November 2.
By Randy Boyagoda (Biblioasis) Boyagoda’s second novel of a planned trilogy brings back his character Prin, who, while still yearning to reconnect with his distant wife, moves to Indiana to take a job at new theme park Dante’s Inferno. Many of his coworkers are opioid-dependent, and the death of a young Black teen at the hands of police intensifies the community’s woes. The convergence of unscrupulous politicians, creationists, and outraged protesters on the small town doesn’t help. Another sharp satire from one of Canada’s best writers. Out now. MISFITS: A PERSONAL MANIFESTO
By Michaela Coel (Henry Holt/Raincoast) Fans of Coel’s incendiary TV series I May Destroy You will get everything they crave—though something quite different—from this courageous creator in her memoir-cum-manifesto that traces her development from London public-housing resident to celebrated storyteller. It’s inspirational, yes, but also clear-eyed about what it’s like to live on the margins and why we need to embrace radical honesty, empathy, and our differences. Out now. RED X
by David Demchuk (Strange Light) On its face, Red X looks like a novel set against the backdrop of the serial killings in Toronto’s gay village that began in 2014. It is that, with T.O.’s history of homophobia, problematic police attitudes— from violence to indifference—and the AIDS crisis also in the background, but the story is not about the killings themselves. Rather, Demchuk pursues his fascination with the horror genre to create a unique narrative covering more than 30 years, his personal story, a new take on the relationship between queerness and horror, and the conjuring of a new kind of monster. Out now. OUT OF THE SUN: ON RACE AND STORYTELLING
By Esi Edugyan (Anansi) The brilliant two-time Giller winner from Victoria (Half-Blood Blues, Washington Black) delivers her fi rst book of nonfiction, an exhilarating inquiry into the 14
THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT
Book publishers often issue their most appealing titles, including the ones above, in autumn to coincide with writers festivals such as those scheduled next month in Vancouver and Whistler.
importance of stories, specifically Black stories, that hover at the margins. Determined to give these narratives—some from her own life—centrality, Edugyan looks at Black histories in literature and fi lm in ways that subvert our assumptions of who we are as individuals and as a nation. The beauty in this comes from Edugyan’s willingness to challenge herself as much as she challenges her readers. Out September 28. HUNTING BY STARS
By Cherie Dimaline (Penguin) Young-adult fiction seldom lands on a list like this one. But as we confront the truth about Canada’s relationships with our First Nations—through history and right now— let’s take heart from the fact that, thanks in part to author Dimaline, young people are reading about residential schools. This follow-up to 2018’s megaseller The Marrow Thieves, about governments’ attempts to kidnap Indigenous people to harvest their bone marrow (the seat of their dreams), follows teenaged French, who is forcibly locked up and must figure out a way to survive without betraying his community. Out October 19. AUGUST INTO WINTER
by Guy Vanderhaeghe (McClelland & Stewart) Looking for some literary heft? Triple Governor General’s Award–winning Vanderhaeghe is back with a new novel, almost 10 years in the making. The complex narrative spotlights highly problematic character Ernie, who leaves town with the 12-year-old girl he idealizes and is pursued by three other men with issues
SEPTEMBER 16 – 23 / 2021
of their own. There is chaos and cruelty in this story—Vanderhaeghe is fascinated by those elements—but there is also love and unremitting suspense. Out now. THE STRANGERS
By Katherena Vermette (Hamish Hamilton) We’ve waited four years for this follow-up to Vermette’s excellent debut, The Break, and the award-winning author comes through with a novel that expands her literary palette. Struggling with addiction, Elsie tries to reconnect with her two daughters: Cedar, who now lives with her father after surviving foster care, and Phoenix, still in foster care, pregnant, with little chance to raise the child. It does sound grim, but Vermette has a way of seeing light through the crack in the wall of a dark room. Out September 28. THE MOMENT: STANDING UP TO BILL COSBY, SPEAKING UP FOR WOMEN
By Andrea Constand (Viking) High on my list of heroes is the courageous Canadian Constand, the first woman to get in serial rapist Bill Cosby’s face, legally speaking, and who, 10 years after he sexually assaulted her, decided to bring him to justice, inspiring more than 60 other women to come forward with their stories. The title refers to three life-changing moments: the trauma of her rape, the decision to go to police, and the cultural moment when the #MeToo movement shifted public awareness about the sexual-assault epidemic. Read this and you’ll only be more outraged that Cosby was released from jail last June because of a Trumpite prosecutor’s incompetence. Out now.
By Theo Ellsworth from a short story by Jeff VanderMeer (Drawn & Quarterly) Drawn & Quarterly has a Leonard Cohen illustrated biography scheduled for release, which is guaranteed to attract a large readership, but the graphic take on an eerie short story about life inside an office building promises to be much more provocative. In this mind-bending narrative, all kinds of weird things are happening: mice can speak English, while lower-caste workers on the second floor develop their own language. The simple act of lending a pen drives one worker around the bend; everywhere, competition for dominance is rampant, and nature, too, has gone wonky as vines are growing inside the walls. It’s an allegory about work life like no other. Out September 28. LETTERS TO AMELIA
By Lindsay Zier-Vogel (Book*hug) After being dumped by her partner of seven years, library tech Grace is grieving deeply but finds distraction when she’s tasked to read the newly discovered passionate letters that famed early aviator/ writer Amelia Earhart wrote to her lover, Gene Vidal. Grace’s fascination with the aviation hero intensifies when she discovers she’s pregnant, and soon she’s writing her own letters to Earhart as she tries to get on with her life. From the creator of the Love Lettering Project, this could be the surprise debut novel of the year. It’s set in Toronto and references Earhart’s connection to the city where she was a volunteer nurse in 1917. Who knew? Out now. WONDER DRUG: LSD IN THE LAND OF LIVING SKIES
By Hugh D. A. Goldring, illustrated by nicole marie burton (Between the Lines) The story may be familiar, but the format— a graphic novel—has never before been used to tell it. In the ’50s, the tiny town of Weyburn, Saskatchewan, of all places, became the seat of groundbreaking research see next page
Vancouver Writers Fest reveals this year’s lineup
by Charlie Smith
Canada’s former justice minister and ex–Vancouver Granville MP Jody Wilson-Raybould created a stir in the federal election campaign when an excerpt of her new book was published.
on psychedelics. The scientists discovered that LSD could turn into a valued cure for depression and alcoholism. But when the war on drugs took hold, the researchers’ higher-ups and timid politicians made sure to bury the new discoveries. Books like these bring this tidbit of history back into the public eye. Out November 8.
daughter of a hereditary chief is fascinating, send- ing her on a path to leadership she knew she had to follow. And Trudeau’s handling of the SNCLavalin scandal isn’t the only thing Wilson-Raybould sees as problematic on Parliament Hill. She’s looking for fundamental change in the practise of Canadian politics. Out now.
THE SNOW LINE
By Jo Piazza and Christine Pride (Simon & Schuster) Cowritten novels are an unusual thing, but when the subject is the lifelong bond between two women—Riley, who’s Black, and Jen, who’s white—that’s a good strategy for creating authenticity. Here, Jen’s police officer husband is implicated in a police shooting, and aspiring TV journalist Riley is covering the story. It’s a page turner like last year’s The Other Black Girl, part of a surge of new fiction about anti-Black racism in America. Out October 5.
By Tessa McWatt (Random House) Four people meet at a wedding in Punjab: a yoga teacher, a classical singer, an amateur photographer, and a man who’s there with the secondary purpose of scattering his late wife’s ashes. The quartet see a chance for adventure and embark on a journey to the Himalayas to help the widower complete his task. We featured McWatt on our cover when her first book, Out of My Skin—probing identity, displacement, and human connection—was released in 1998. Since then, she has pursued many of the same themes while finely honing a unique ability to find intimacy in a narrative of epic proportions. Out now. “INDIAN” IN THE CABINET: SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER
By Jody Wilson-Raybould (HarperCollins) Political junkies can get their fix with this memoir from the Vancouver woman at the centre of one of Canada’s biggest news stories of 2019. But don’t just skip to the juicy part about Wilson-Raybould’s role as minister of justice in the SNC-Lavalin affair. Her childhood as the granddaughter of a woman determined to keep traditions alive and the
WE ARE NOT LIKE THEM
ALSO ON THE HORIZON
Matrix (Riverhead), Lauren Groff’s follow-up to her superb Fates and Furies, this time out about a 12th-century nun trying to save the nunnery; Unreconciled (Viking), Indigenous cultural activist and creator Jesse Wente’s memoir; State Of Terror (Simon & Schuster), a thriller set in the White House, by Louise Penny and Hillary Rodham Clinton; A Runner’s Journey (University of Toronto Press), a memoir from Canadian sports icon Bruce Kidd; Lean Fall Stand (HarperCollins), a moving novel from Jon McGregor about a man who has seen the worst but can’t talk about it. g
or Vancouver book lovers, October just might be their favourite time of the year. Not only is that when many fall titles become available, it’s also when the Vancouver Writers Fest takes place. Today, the festival announced its lineup of in-person, hybrid, and online events from October 18 to 24. And it includes many celebrated authors. Among them are Miriam Toews, Jesse Wente, Esi Edugyan, Katherena Vermette, André Alexis, Omar El Akkad, Ann Goldstein, Lauren Groff, Zoe Whittall, Tomson Highway, Anthony Doerr, Susan Orlean, and Jeff VanderMeer. Highway, also a playwright and pianist, will discuss his new memoir, Permanent Astonishment. His first language is Cree, and in 2001 Maclean’s included him on its list of the 100 most important people in Canadian history. Edugyan, a two-time winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize, will speak about her 2021 Massey Lectures, entitled Out of the Sun, which took a deep dive into art and race. Toews, a two-time winner of the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, is out with a new book, Fight Night. It’s an intergenerational tale told through a character named Swiv, a nine-year-old in Toronto with a pregnant mother and a wise and loving grandmother. “In a year when our worlds became so small, and doorways closed, it was through art, music, and books that many of us found new pathways,” Vancouver Writers Fest artistic director Leslie Hurtig said in a news release announcing this year’s lineup. “Now, we invite you to join us on Granville Island, and from your homes, as we present the works of over 115 extraordinary authors.” Guest curator Lawrence Hill, author of The Book of Negroes and The Illegal, will showcase Black and Indigenous authors. He’s moderating a discussion with Cherie Jones and Myriam Chancy about Caribbean literature. In addition, Hill will interview Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize– winning poet Chantal Gibson, who has a new collection, with/holding. Hill has also programmed events with Lisa Bird-Wilson and Katherena Vermette, among others. Theatre-event tickets are $25, apart from the pay-what-you-can discussions at the Nest. The Literary Cabaret and Afternoon Tea events are $45, whereas digital events are being offered on a pay-what-you-can basis. The Vancouver Writers Fest has a Digital Festival Pass for $100, offering access to every digital-only event. This year’s Literary Cafe features Mona Awad, Gary Barwin, Christa Couture, Marcello Di Cintio, Omar El Akkad, and Darrel McLeod.
Author Esi Edugyan will be at the Vancouver Writers Fest. Photo by Daniel Harasymchuk.
…through art, music and books…many of us found new pathways. – artistic director Leslie Hurtig
The Afternoon Tea event includes Myriam Chancey, Linden MacIntyre, Casey Plett, Jael Richardson, Ian Williams, and Zoe Whittall. Both will take place in-person at Performance Works on Granville Island. Under Hurtig’s direction in recent years, the Vancouver Writers Fest has ramped up its youth-education programming. This year is no exception, as there are 15 events for students from kindergarten to Grade 12 in the Writers in the Classroom program. Participating authors include George Elliott Clarke, Wab Kinew, Adam Sol, and Uzma Jalaluddin. In addition to being a bestselling author, Kinew is leader of the Manitoba New Democratic Party. g For more information on authors at the Vancouver Writers Fest, visit the website.
SEPTEMBER 16 – 23 / 2021
THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT
Pickles and cash pack Ida Nilsen’s fridge
by Mike Usinger
hat’s In Your Fridge is where the Straight asks interesting Vancouverites about their life-changing concerts, favourite albums, and, most importantly, what’s sitting beside the Heinz ketchup in their custom-made Big Chill Retropolitan 20.6-cubic-foot refrigerators.
Booze and a stuffed bear help Gifford get through tough times by Mike Usinger
WHO ARE YOU
Ida Nilsen, former snotty booker and takeno-prisoners door person at the (sugar refinery), former bartender at the Railway Club, former musician-about-town, current student, restaurant administrator, and singer-songwriter behind Great Aunt Ida, whose new album Unsayable was released on September 7. Details at www.greatauntida.com; listen/buy the album at greatauntida.bandcamp.com, zunior.com, Red Cat Records, or stream the f out of it at the usual places. FIRST CONCERT
The Nylons at the Royal Theatre circa 1989 in Victoria, B.C., I think; I may have just memorized the program from the family photo album. But I remember “Silhouettes on the Shade” and a long bathroom lineup. LIFE-CHANGING CONCERT
Dixie’s Death Pool and Mexican Power Authority at the UVic SUB ballroom in Victoria, February ’95. This was the early days of going to gigs for me and I was in awe of the DIY mandate. I think I spent a lot of time during this period pretending or trying to like hardcore, but MPA was something else—it blew my mind. And this was the first time I saw Dixie’s Death Pool play; I’d never heard anything that felt so familiar and strange at the same time. TOP THREE RECORDS
Joni Mitchell Blue Coming up with my top three albums is torture, but coming up with number one is easy: this one. I admit to skipping “Little Green” sometimes, but otherwise this album is flawless, cohesive, and somehow makes me feel like me. Cyndi Lauper She’s So Unusual This record just keeps getting better—the production has aged remarkably. I don’t usually like things that make me so happy but when the drums kick in at the chorus of “All Through the Night”, I can hardly contain myself. For years I was embarrassed about how much I loved this record. Luckily, it became cool again so I can admit it now. Vic Chesnutt The Salesman and Bernadette I miss Vic Chesnutt a lot and always loved his songwriting, but I didn’t love all of his records. Having Lambchop as a backing band was a brilliant idea, and Em16
THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT
Based on her video for “Nice Things”, there’s no such thing as too much for Madisyn Gifford.
Dixie’s Death Pool, Bruce Springsteen, Cyndi Lauper, Joni Mitchell’s Blue, and pickles in a truly dazzling bunch of styles are just a few of Vancouver scene vet Ida Nilsen’s favourite things.
mylou Harris on backup vocals didn’t hurt either. Gorgeous. ALL-TIME FAVOURITE VIDEO
Bruce Springsteen “Dancing in the Dark” Okay, there are way more exciting and interesting videos out there, but this fake-performance vid is so killer. Springsteen is a god here and all I wanna do is look at him. It’s spellbinding. WHAT’S IN YOUR FRIDGE
Seven different kinds of pickles. These are all active and have different functions: cornichons, sliced, babies, full size, extra
garlic, onions etcetera… I love pickles a lot. They are the reason I have no enamel left on my teeth. An old pickle jar half full of bacon grease from two years ago. I can’t throw it out—I might need it for something. $600. I moved it here from the freezer after I heard on TV that the freezer is yesterday’s hiding spot for the savings account. I got with the times! g Listen to Ida Nilsen’s Unsayable at https:// greatauntida.bandcamp.com/album/unsayable.
D ua Lipa READY TO TOUR
collective (masked and vaxxed) blowout. The English pop star just released an overdue 28-stop North American Future Nostalgia tour, and it will come to Vancouver’s Rogers Arena on April 1. “When I was writing Future Nostalgia, I imagined the songs being played in clubs on nights out with your mates,” Dua Lipa said in a news release. “I’m so excited that this fantasy is finally coming true. I can’t wait to experience these songs with you together live!”
d DUA LIPA released a modern disco classic right as the sweeping pandemic made partying together nearly impossible. Soon, everybody who has been hustling and levitating to songs from her Future Nostalgia album alone in their bedrooms during the socialdistancing era can get together for a
SEPTEMBER 16 – 23 / 2021
Unfortunately, megastar rapper Megan Thee Stallion is not on board for the Canadian dates—which also include shows in Montreal and Toronto—but the openers, Caroline Polachek and Lolo Zouaï, are solid enough to keep you dancing in your seat. g
By Richard Trapunski
fter 16 months or so spending every waking hour at home alone, the solitary life has started to seem like the greatest thing ever. Who needs real people to interact with when you’ve got Siri, Alexa, Rachel Maddow, Bobby Flay, and your beloved English budgies Ms. Meryl Cheep and the Godfeather? Based on what we see in the video for “Nice Things”, Madisyn Gifford seems to be on the same wavelength. There’s no point inviting real people over for wine, hamburger dinners, afternoon tea, or impromptu games of strip poker when you’ve got a gorgeous white teddy bear to hang out with. The great thing about having no one but a stuffed animal for companionship is that said inanimate object isn’t going to judge you. It doesn’t matter that you’ve always got a glass of wine at hand whether sitting down at the table for dinner or applying the Maybelline at your vintage vanity. Hell, you can even pour NoName vodka on your cornflakes and Sir Snowball McSnuggabug won’t bat an eye. Even though drinking seems to by nine out of Gifford’s 10 favourite things, she couldn’t sound more focused or together on “Nice Things”. Pop with a sugar-dipped, indie-soul heart, the track’s great trick is sounding timeless. Stick it on a late-’90s-themed mixed tape between Morcheeba and Sneaker Pimps as it fits right in. Flash forward a decade and it won’t sound out of place between Beyoncé and your favourite Christine Aguilera/Linda Perry collabo. And while Gifford hasn’t yet secured her seat at the top-tier lunch table with the likes off Carly Rae Jepsen and Billie Eilish, “Nice Things” definitely suggests she’s got big plans for the future. Back to the visual side of things, it’s hard not to love a video that winningly seems to take its visual cues from, in no particular order, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Edward Scissorhands, the post-Divine films of John Waters, and Camera Obscura’s unbeatable “Lloyd, I’m Ready to Be Heartbroken”. It all adds up to a great argument that some folks figure out what they want to do at a younger age than others, and then proceed to go for it. Now pass the prosecco-based French 75. And don’t skimp on the gin. g
Janisse dives deep into folk horror with epic doc
by Steve Newton
ack in 2005, the Georgia Straight interviewed Kier-La Janisse at Black Dog Video, the local specialty-video shop she’d worked at for several years. At the time, Janisse was curating her seventh and final installment of the CineMuerte Film Festival, which took place at the Pacific Cinémathèque (now just called the Cinematheque). CineMuerte was known for showcasing cutting-edge, violent, disturbing, and often controversial genre films, but Janisse was never fazed by any outrage her selections may have caused. “Sometimes I know that there are movies that are gonna upset people,” she explained at the time, “but I don’t get scared off from programming them.” That fearless approach to film has served Janisse well over the years, with a career that has seen her work as a programmer for the famed Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, Texas; become an acclaimed author for her 2012 critical memoir House of Psychotic Women: An Autobiographical Topography of Female Neurosis in Horror and Exploitation Films; and now—with the release of the three-hour documentary Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror—an award-winning director as well. The new film, which screens as part of this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival, took the audience award for best documentary at the Fantasia Film Festival. On the line from her current home on Pender Island—“I’ve been here since COVID started, hiding out”—Janisse points to her work on CineMuerte as crucial to getting her where she is today. “CineMuerte is kind of how everything started for me,” she says. “It’s how I got my first writing gig, for Fangoria, and it’s how I eventually got a job in Austin, being a programmer there. If I hadn’t done CineMuerte, nobody in my field would have known that I existed, so that’s something I really look back on as an important period of my life. I also worked at Black Dog Video for years, and Black Dog was really instrumental in supporting the festival also. So it was a good time.” The step to becoming a full-fledged film director came via Janisse’s work for Severin Films, which has been her “day job” since 2017. The company does restorations of classic genre film titles in lavish collectors’ editions, and one of her duties is overseeing bonus features for its Blu-rays. When the company was preparing to reissue a “folk horror” movie called The Blood on Satan’s Claw, she proposed doing a folk-horror featurette so people could understand the context of where the movie was coming from and where it fit in with similar films. It was supposed to be
Lifelong horror fan Kier-La Janisse has been a Black Dog Video clerk, CineMuerte Film Festival curator, Fangoria writer, Alamo Drafthouse programmer, and now a documentary filmmaker.
One of the first things I ever remember in my life is watching horror movies. – Kier-La Janisse
a 30-minute piece that would take maybe three months to make. “I got three or four months into it,” Janisse recalls, “when I was supposed to be handing it in, and my boss [Severin Films cofounder David Gregory] looked at the footage that I had and we just realized that we had a much, much bigger project on our hands. So we scrapped the idea of it being a bonus feature and decided to proceed with it being a feature.” By the time Janisse was done with Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched, it was a 192-minute epic featuring dozens of commentators—directors, screenwrit-
ers, film critics, authors, magazine editors, even occult-bookstore owners—sharing their viewpoints on what folk horror actually is. “Folk horror is generally described,” she says, “as films that are often set in a rural environment that deal with folk customs, practices, or beliefs in some way. So sometimes this can be where it is dealing directly with folklore—like monsters of some sort, or folkloric evil or something. Sometimes it can be about a community’s fear of paganism or witchcraft. And sometimes it can be about the outsider that comes into that community that is afraid of the cus-
toms and beliefs of that community.” As laid out in the documentary, three British-made films—1968’s Witchfinder General, the aforementioned The Blood on Satan’s Claw from ’71, and 1973’s The Wicker Man—are seen as genre-defining folk-horror works. “Probably the first folk-horror movie I saw would have been something like The Dark Secret of Harvest Home on television,” Janisse says. “Or Children of the Corn. I didn’t see The Wicker Man till I was a teenager, and that was the first one where I started questioning whether there were other movies like this that I could look for that were dealing with pagan cultures and things like that. I don’t think at that age I would have connected it to something like Children of the Corn the way that I’m doing now with the film. “But Wicker Man was a big one for me because I went to a bunch of the film locations and did the whole film-nerd pilgrimage thing, and I was completely fascinated with that film—as many people are. So that was kind of the foundational folk-horror film for me, even though it probably wasn’t the first one I ever saw.” Although Janisse believes that The Wicker Man might be her favourite folkhorror film of all time, she also admits that “it’s possibly been usurped” in that regard by British director Ben Wheatley’s A Field in England, a 2013 black-and-white psychological horror film set during the mid– 17th century English Civil War. “Ben Wheatley would probably die if he heard me say I like it more than The Wicker Man,” Janisse notes, “and it may be just because I’ve seen The Wicker Man so many times now that it’s not as fresh to me. But A Field in England, I think, is just a completely magical film. I love it.” Janisse has been finding magic in horror films—and showing it to others—for decades now. So what is it about horror in general that has made her want to devote such a huge chunk of her life to it? “One of the first things I ever remember in my life is watching horror movies,” she explains. “And my parents liked horror movies. I mean, they didn’t like them as much as I like them, and they didn’t pursue them in any active way the way I have done, but they liked them enough that I would watch horror films with them. “I had kind of a turbulent upbringing,” she adds, “but horror films were, strangely, this quality-time thing that I had with my parents, and so I always had very positive emotions associated with them.” g The Vancouver International Film Festival presents a screening of Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror on October 8 at the Rio Theatre.
SEPTEMBER 16 – 23 / 2021
THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT
Don’t report massage therapist who fell for a client by Dan Savage
b I’M A 35-YEAR-OLD straight woman living in the Midwest. I was seeing a massage therapist for three years and we became very close friends. I referred my friends to him and helped him grow his business. He eventually disclosed to me that he had developed feelings for me. I went into instant shock and said that I had no idea and I thought we were only growing in our friendship. He told me that he had to tell me and wanted to leave it up to me if I felt comfortable continuing to see him. I was really numb from my shock and thought I was okay at first, only later realizing how upset and violated I felt. I never went back to him. I found out that he closed his practice during COVID. My question is, should I report him to his ethics board? - Really Upset By Bewildering Erotic Disclosure No.
This guy was initially your massage therapist, RUBBED, but you eventually became very close friends. I’m going to assume this was one those consensual friendships— meaning, your former massage therapist didn’t force his friendship on you—and that you welcomed his friendship. So, while you may have gotten to know him in a unique professional setting, you wound up in a kind of two-track relationship with him: he was your massage therapist and also your friend. It’s not uncommon for friends to catch feelings for each other, and it would seem to be in that capacity—in his capacity as your friend—that your massage therapist caught feelings for you. Given that he developed feelings for you, I don’t see how he could avoid making this disclosure. Indeed, keeping these feelings to himself while continuing to see you as a client—or dropping you as a client without explanation (an explanation that you, as a friend, would have felt entitled to)—would have constituted an ethical violation. “What he did was borderline but not unethical,” said a physical-medicine practitioner that I shared your question with. “That he brought up the fact that she could/ should consider no longer seeing him keeps it just in bounds. The most correct thing would’ve been to maintain boundaries and not become friends in the first place.” A massage therapist I shared your email with told me that your former massage therapist handled this the way he was trained to handle similar situations in the professional-ethics courses he was required to take to get his licence: disclose and discontinue the professional relationship. Another massage therapist I spoke to did think your former massage therapist was guilty of an ethical lapse. He referred me to the professional code of conduct published by his professional association—the College of Massage Therapists
THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT
Dan advises a reader whose longtime massage therapist confessed that he had “developed feelings” for her not to report him to his professional association. Photo by Lacheev/Getty.
of British Columbia—which bars entering into a “close personal relationship” with a client. He felt the friendship was the ethical violation; if your massage therapist had done the right thing and kept your relationship strictly professional, he wouldn’t have caught feelings for you the way he did. And if he hadn’t caught feelings for you the way he did, RUBBED, he wouldn’t have put himself in the position of having to disclose those feelings to you. Or put you in the position of having to listen to him make that discomforting disclosure. I understand not wanting to see this massage therapist again, RUBBED, and I understand feeling squicky about this. If I were in your shoes, I would probably wonder how much time, if any, passed between my friend/massage therapist becoming consciously aware of his romantic feelings for me and the moment he disclosed those feelings—and I might find myself thinking back on our previous sessions and feeling a little goobed out. But while it’s uncomfortable to contemplate a massage therapist taking his own pleasure in your sessions, RUBBED, that’s always a risk. (Kind of like friends catching feelings for friends is always a risk.) We rely on massage therapists to be professionals and to quash feelings of sexual attraction during a session, regardless of how long we’ve been seeing them—and regardless of what kind of relationship we might have with them outside the treatment room. Some of the massage therapists I spoke with felt you should report him, but the majority did not—and I’m going to stick with my advice not to report him. But you get to make your own call. b I’M A HEALTHY and active 72-year-old man who found love the second time around. In fact, I have discovered not only
SEPTEMBER 16 – 23 / 2021
a depth of love I never knew existed [but] with my new mate I have the most active and satisfying sex life I’ve ever known. My question is this: during nearly a year of solitary processing after my marriage ended, I chanced upon writings about tantric lovemaking practices and was fascinated by them. I began to practise withholding ejaculation, which is a tantric practice that has tremendous benefits. One of those benefits is existing in a state of perpetual desire for my partner and this lovely hum of continual sexual energy between us. But after two years of practising withholding semen, I now find it almost impossible to come at the time of my choosing. It is almost as if my inner tantric shaman has taken hold of the controls. The wonderful woman in my life consistently has multiple orgasms, but I come about once every seventh or eighth time, and only when we have a long, involved, and deeply connected sex session. While the release, when it comes, is always spectacular, I would like to have more control over my orgasms. Do you have any suggestions? - Wanting A Direction
Men who practise orgasm denial—whether they’re withholding their own orgasms or being denied orgasms by their dominant partners—often report existing in a pleasantly buzzy state of perpetual horniness. Doms who lock their lover’s cocks up in chastity devices (instead of relying on them to refrain climaxing or jacking off) often report that their perpetually horny partners are more attentive. And while those are attractive perks, I’ve never been tempted to go the orgasm-denial route myself. First and foremost, I enjoy coming too much to give it up. And coming in a close
second, multiple studies have shown a link between frequent ejaculation and a lower incidence of prostate cancer. Maybe at 72 you’re not worried about prostate cancer— seeing you haven’t gotten it by now—but guys who don’t want to risk prostate cancer should err on the side of busting those nuts (which is not to be confused with busting those balls). As for your problem, WAD, if withholding orgasms is making it difficult for you to have ’em when you want ’em, then you might wanna stop withholding ’em. But considering how much pleasure you get out of withholding them—that buzz, those spectacular orgasms when you do come—maybe unpredictable orgasms are a price you’re willing to pay. It’s also possible that age caught up with you and your orgasms became a little less reliable at the same time you took up tantric sex practices. (For the record: tantra is a nearly two-millennia-old tradition/body of wisdom that originated in India and is typically practised by Hindus and Buddhists. While sex is a part of tantra, sex isn’t the only thing tantra is about.) b I AM NEW to your wonderful column. I have two questions: 1. Do you personally respond to each email you receive? Or do you only respond to inquiries in your column? (I sent an email this morning and haven’t heard back yet.) 2. Is it possible to get email updates from you on a daily basis, since I would like to read the column every day? - Response Sought Very Persistently
1. I can’t respond to every email I receive; there are too many of them and just one of me. And while I’m the kind of progressive who feels bad about anything and everything, I don’t feel too bad about this. Because after hearing from so many people who’ve said that just the act of writing to me was helpful—that putting their problem in an email helped them—and hearing from just as many people who’ve said that my advice is terrible, RSVP, I long ago concluded that the people I don’t respond to are the ones I’m helping most. 2. I have a brand-new website—courtesy of the tech-savvy, at-risk youth— where you can sign up for my new weekly email newsletter, which includes links to new columns and old ones, my weekly podcast, upcoming book events, and more. And while new columns only come out once a week, RSVP, there are enough old columns in the archives for you to read a brand-new-to-you column every day for the rest of your life. g Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Dan on Twitter @FakeDanSavage. Check out my new website at Savage.Love!
Careers Airlux Heating and Air Conditioning Ltd is seeking Heating and Cooling Mechanics Greater Vancouver, BC. F/T, Perm, Wage: $32.00 per hour. Main duties: Read specifications for installation of air conditioners (a/c) and Mini-Split ductless systems; Measure and layout ductwork, piping, and wiring; Assemble and mount a/c equipment, join pipes; Recharge and start up a/c system; Test joints and connections for leaks; Perform maintenance; Inspect ventilation and a/c systems, repair and replace parts. Requirements: High school Completion of apprenticeship program or 2-3 years of work exp. Good English Company’s business address: 790 Baycrest Dr, North Vancouver, BC V7G 1N8 Please apply by e-mail: email@example.com
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NOW SELLING AN EXCEPTIONAL COLLEC TION OF 1, 2 & 3 BEDRO OM RESIDENCES LO CATED AT ROBSON & CAMBIE NOW AVAIL ABLE FOR SALE WITH LIMITED TIME GRAND OPENING INCENTIVES *
PRESENTATION CENTRE & DISPL AY HOMES AT 1035 SEYMOUR STREET, VANCOUVER
CALL 236.471.4834 TO BOOK YOUR GRAND OPENING APPOINTMENT BLOCKRESIDENCES.COM *See sales staff for details. The developer reserves the right to make changes, modifications or substitutes to the building design, specifications and floorplans should they be necessary. Renderings, views, and layouts are for illustration purposes only. This is not an offering for sale and such an offering can only be made after filing a disclosure statement. E.&O.E.
THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT
SEPTEMBER 16 – 23 / 2021