July 24, 2016

Finding your TRU self in Kamloops

Recently we spent time in Kamloops; Jeem attended a political conference and Sherry visited some wineries and coffee shops.

The landscape around Kamloops is stunningly attractive and the vistas from TRU were impressive, especially at sunrise. Apparently New Democrats start their business early.

TRU Residence Building

The conference was held on the campus of Thompson Rivers University and it's an impressive site. Residences, conference centre and a number of buildings housing various faculties and programs.

TRU began in 1970 as Cariboo College, wending its way through the changing politics of BC to discover itself a degree granting university in the 2000s.

TRU has over 25,000 students with almost 15,000 attending on-site. According to statistics Jeem found on the internet, the female to male ratio of students is 56/43, which doesn't quite add up, but that's a minor quibble to be sure. Aboriginal students make up over 10 percent of the student body, with another 10 percent defined as international, mainly from China, but also India and Saudi Arabia, among others.

TRU's grassy knoll. 

The campus makes for an interesting walkabout; there are interesting pathways between buildings and places to relax and reflect, and in the summertime heat of Kamloops, the university was quiet.

Except for the antics of 500 New Democrats.

Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2016 by Jim Murray.

July 03, 2016

Giving Blood on Canada Day ~ Jeem's annual tradition since 2016

It's Canada Day and we're off to give blood. It's a good thing to do, especially when we're thinking all the reasons we love being Canadian. And not English. Or American where they pay for blood.

Giving blood is easy, as Jeem discovered a few months ago when he gave blood for the very first time. Doors open automatically at the centre on Oak Street and the reception is warm and friendly

A quick prick of the finger to see if one is human is about the most pain you can expect to endure.

There are forms to fill out, yet again. After all, Jeem might have come in contact with the bodily fluids of monkeys or taken up IV drug use since his last donation three months ago. One never knows apparently.

A brief wait and Jeem was called into a private room for screening. This is a bit more serious level of interrogation and one shouldn't answer any of the questions with a "maybe." As in, "In the past twelve months have you spent anytime in prison?" Or, "Are you now, or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?" After some minor clarification Jeem was sent to the next waiting room.

Another brief interlude and then the insertion of tubes by a trained professional, and proud member of a union. It was easy and Jeem didn't feel a thing.

His donation of a half litre of B+ was complete in less than twenty minutes. Time for some salty snacks, cookies and a juice. That, plus a good feeling, and a sticker for his tee, was the only payment Jeem received this Canada Day. And that's another reason to be a proud Canadian, though Christy Clark and her band of nitwits is trying to change that too. That would be a bad thing.

It's in us to give, and we should do so freely. Blood-for-profit has no place in this province, nor anywhere else in Canada.

Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2016 by Jim Murray.

June 23, 2016

Battle of Ballantyne Pier ~ remembering June 18, 1935

It's one of those stories all of us should know. It's the kind of history that should be taught in our schools in this province and across the nation. It's the Battle of Ballantyne Pier. and on a dull and rainy Saturday this year, we joined over 100 others at New Brighton Park to remember
what happened 81 years ago in Vancouver.

Most braving the steady rain were union members, mainly men and mainly older. Flags were unfurled, speeches offered, hands shaken and smiles exchanged.

Just after noon on June 18, 1935, about 1500 striking longshoremen and various supporters, mainly men, left the union hall on East Hastings to peacefully march to Ballantyne Pier with the intention of talking down the replacement workers that were working on the ships in the dock. In the past the Union had been somewhat successful in convincing the scabs of the error of their ways. The strikers had been locked out since June 4th, and the employers had taken on scabs that they had been busy recruiting for several months.

The employers' group, otherwise known as the Shipping Federation, had prepared for this day and had organised politicians to support a plan to deal with the waterfront situation. That plan included the hiring of scabs, police specials, and the coordination of three levels of police.

Vancouver Labour Heritage photo

The photos of the day tell a powerful story. Men, dressed in their Sunday-best, including many veterans from the First World War with medals pinned to their chests, walked, peacefully by all accounts, towards the Pier.

When the longshoremen and their supporters arrived at Ballantyne Pier they were greeted by hundreds of city police, with Provincial police hiding behind boxcars with Thompson machine guns. RCMP officers carrying long batons, and mounted on horses, rounded out the heavies.

Vancouver Sun archives photo

Tear gas was fired and the mounted police rode into the crowd of marchers, swinging long clubs. The police pursued the fleeing marchers through the surrounding streets, even riding up the steps of houses where women and children were gathered.

1:20 p.m. Tear gas bombs were fired by Royal Canadian Mounted Police over the heads of the crowd, mounted city and Provincial police charged them at full gallop and foot police swung into action with batons this afternoon when thousands of longshore strikers and sympathizers tried to break through the guard and march onto Ballantyne Pier.
     The Vancouver Sun from March 18, 1935
At day's end, over 100 marchers were treated in hospitals. Many others were injured but afraid to go to hospitals or doctors. At least two were shot. No one was killed.

In the end, the strike was broken. The employers' group broke the union in 1935 as they had done four other times since 1909. Ultimately, in the 1940s, union members prevailed and the ILWU was formed.

Shane Simpson MLA

A monument was erected at New Brighton Park in 2010 to remember the Battle of Ballantyne Pier. It's a tribute to the workers who faced down guns, batons and tear gas to achieve something of lasting value for all Canadians.

As speaker after speaker mentioned in the day's service, including Simpson Shane MLA, Vancouver-Hastings, the rich and powerful are constantly looking for ways to take more and more from working people in Canada, be it through their "free trade" agreements, the dismantling of public school system, or the privatisation of health care.

To remember the Battle of Ballantyne Pier is not just about remembering; it's about standing on guard and being willing to take a stand, no matter the consequence.

Photos, except where noted, by Jeem. 
Copyright 2016 by Jim Murray.