September 05, 2017

Signs from the Counter-Protest of August 19th

Over 4000 people.

Flags, signs, costumes and more.

Some seriousness. Some silliness.

A famous flag, back by popular demand.

"Hands up. Who wants to go to Dairy Queen?"

Photos by Jeem. 
Copyright 2017 by Jim Murray.

September 04, 2017

Labour Day, my union, and taking to the streets

Labour Day, or FĂȘte du Travail, has been celebrated in Canada on the first Monday in September since the 1880s. It originated with a long and bitter strike in Toronto in 1872, and specifically with a march that started with 2000 union members heading towards City Hall. By the time they arrived they were 10,000 strong, catching the attention of their employers, the public and politicians alike.

Those workers did not obtain their immediate goals of a shorter work week (one of their demands was a 9 hour day). In fact, many still lost their jobs. They did however discover how to regain the power they lost in a rapidly industrializing economy. The parade held in support of those strikers carried over into an annual celebration of workers' rights and was adopted in cities and towns across Canada. In 1894, Labour Day was declared a national holiday.

Paul Finch, Treasurer

On August 19th, my union, the BCGEU, took a leadership role in rallying members and citizens against fascism and racism in Vancouver. Hundreds of union members showed up on a beautiful Saturday to take a stand, to take to the streets.

Our group was addressed by Paul Finch, BCGEU Treasurer, and by Stephanie Smith, our President. After some milling about, we marched, led by Stephanie, to join a larger group of unionists and citizens united against fascism.

Stephanie Smith, President

VPD watching and reporting on the BCGEU

Oddly, it seemed to me, our group was watched by members of the Vancouver Police Department. I'm not sure what they expected from a mainly middle-aged group of union members, but perhaps old habits.... Or was it for our own protection? "Hey, we're the good guys here," Jeem said to one. The officer frowned and took Jeem's picture.

Unions gave us the weekend, various holidays, higher wages, and standards for employment. They also have a long history of fighting for those marginalized within our society and against the forces of darkness, be they corporate or political.

BCGEU and BCTF flags and members intermingling
With over 4000 anti-racist/anti-fascist demonstrators gathering on August 19th, we showed that together we are stronger and better organised than the fascists can ever hope to be, and that ours is a movement for tolerance and inclusion.

Union members must be vigilant, and always willing to take to the streets.

Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2017 by Jim Murray.

September 03, 2017

The Purple Man and his sign

As crowds gathered for a large anti-racism/anti-fascism rally at Vancouver City Hall on August 19th, a young man walked around the block. Over and over again. He was the purple guy with a sign, and he continued to walk around the block until the crowd of 4000 made it almost impossible to continue his solitary march on the sidewalk.

He talked with no one that I could see. He walked quickly and seldom made eye contact. That in spite of the third eye on his forehead.

What was with the team shorts, and one sock black, the other white?

And what to make of the sign?

The answer, to the statement on the sign, is simply "no."

When it comes to fascism, there isn't any discussion. There is no need for polite debate. A civil society need not agree to anything of the kind. Fascists must not march in our streets. They must not be allowed to spew their hate and lies in public spaces.

The purple man was not inciting anyone, nor was his lonely march offensive. He was entirely peaceful.

But no, if it comes to it, fascists must be met with the full force of the state and all that it provides. Failing that, fascism must be confronted by the people themselves.

Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2017 by Jim Murray. 

September 02, 2017

Broken Spoke Coffee in Courtenay

The Broken Spoke in Courtenay is actually a bike shop. They sell, rent and repair bicycles. All kinds of bikes.

The place smells of rubber and grease and .... coffee, and The Broken Spoke is one of the best coffee shops we've encountered in quite some time.

After walking around  the store, one senses an obvious attention to detail, a mindfulness about choices and the relationships founded here. It shows in the products they carry and the slow, meticulous way bikes are serviced. The coffee shop portion of the operation is no different.

The Broken Spoke Coffee House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

The coffee comes from an excellent roaster-coffee shop in Victoria called Discovery Coffee. The beans are sourced from select farms around the world and roasted in small batches to create something quite wonderful.

We had coffee here on two different days and on both occasions it was superb. When in Courtenay... don't miss this coffee shop. Our friend and public relations consultant, G. G. Blynn, even had her wheel chair serviced, in a manner of speaking, while having a coffee. Great people!

Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2017 by Jim Murray.

August 22, 2017

Eclipse-shape shadows appear on ground....

The recent partial solar eclipse provided an obvious darkening of the skies in MetroVancouver. Temperatures actually cooled ever so slightly during the moments of near totality.

It also created a rare, perhaps once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon, along the pathway at Langara Golf Course, but reportedly repeated throughout the region.

Looking at the shadows on the ground, at about twenty-five percent eclipse, one can see clearly: the crescent shapes of the moon and sun!

Eerie. Strange. And only lasting the brief minutes of the actual eclipse. Most people miss the celestial event on the ground, because they are all looking up!

This scientific phenomenon won't be seen again in this area, until the next solar eclipse to come our way in 2033.

Photos by Jeem. 
Copyright 2017 by Jim Murray.