Civic Election Day is
Saturday, Nov. 20.
Vancouver Sun Literacy Hypocrisy!
On October 25, 1999, The Vancouver Sun
published its third annual Raise-a-Reader
edition, supposedly in support of improving literacy for all children. Ina lead
article. the Editor-in-Chief, John Cruickshank, wrote, “Our children can only
grow to become... informed and educated citizens... if we.. .provide them with
the tools they need. Literacy is chief among these tools.”
If Mr. Cruickshank is serious
about helping all children become “informed and educated citizens”, he should
look at the forty years of research in the sociology of education that gives us
a framework for understanding why many children do not learn to read and write
* As a rule, the poorest students
drop out of school first and the richest last, not because poor students are
dumb, but because the school system discriminates against them. Low income
students drop out of school at more than twice the rate of other students.
* School failure, for the most
part, is not due to lack of intelligence or motivation on the part of low
income students. It is due to an inability of the child to grasp the school’s
dominant middle class culture (language, for example), and the inability of the
school to meet the needs of children who are different from this middle class
norm. Intelligence is social; it takes two to fail.
* “Illiteracy is not an isolated
phenomenon,” wrote Carman St. John Hunter, one of the most respected adult
educators in North America. “it can neither be understood nor responded to
apart from the complex set of social, political and economic issues of which it is but one indicator.. .it is by
addressing.. .poverty itself that a nation creates a climate for literacy..
.Poverty is the underlying cause of illiteracy.. .Equality and justice are the
real issues — not
just literacy.” (1)
For years The Vancouver Sun
has refused to allow an open discussion in
its pages on the socio-economic background to illiteracy. Because of the
powerful effects of poverty in the process of socialization, such a refusal is
irresponsible. Mr. Cruickshank talks of helping all children learn, yet he
refuses to discuss a major cause of student failure: poverty.
How is a parent supposed to buy books to read to children when she/he doesn’t
have enough money for food and rent? How are families going to visit libraries
if they don’t have transportation money? How are low income parents going to
pay the fines for late or lost books? These difficult questions don’t arise in
the elite world of Vancouver Sun
The manner in which The
has turned the subject of literacy into a self-promotion
event for itself, the Grizzlies Foundation and the Vancouver Public Library
Foundation, trivializes this critical issue. This is a good example of how the
corporate media actually makes it difficult for us to think seriously about
important social concerns by blocking the solid, well-researched information we
need to make intelligent decisions. (2)
If The Vancouver Sun
serious about a high standard of literacy for all citizens, it will fight to
end poverty and strive to build a just and equitable
society that includes everyone.
By Sandy Cameron
) “Myths and Realities Of Literacy/Illiteracy”, by
Carman St. John Hunter, in Convergence
, an Inter-national Journal of
Adult Education, vol.XX, #1, 1987.
For example, see .The Politics of the Canadian
School, by George Martell; Education and Inequality
, by Caroline
Wersell; The Land
Of -A Participatory Study of Community Based Literacy
by Elaine Gaber-Katz & G.
Watson; Literacy and Poverty - A
View From Inside
, by the National Anti-Poverty Organization (NAPO), Ottawa,
Who are these Visigothic barbarians that would banish music from our streets…
seize instruments …clamp down on joyful noise… vandalize the spirit of the young?
What strange and shriveled world do they inhabit? Where do they come from?
In San Francisco
they said “We won’t move.”
The City had been convinced
(bought&sold) by a developer’s wet dream to bulldoze the low income area
known by the locals as South of Market – named Skid Row by everybody else.
Local residents were categorized as “bums and winos standing in the way of progress.”
They fought back, forming a residents’ association and a corporation of their
own – the Tenants and Owners Development Corporation (TODCO). They struggled to
keep the housing stock, to build housing, to force owners of slum housing to
follow bylaws and standards of maintenance.
Replace South of
Market with the Downtown Eastside. TODCO began in the early 70’s and went
toe-to-toe with the market forces striving to gentrify the entire
neighbourhood. Think of DERA and, more recently, the Portland Hotel Society,
Main&Hastings Community Development Society, First United Church Housing
and St. James Housing. Parallels between TODCO and the work of DERA and the
Downtown Eastside community are many, but they achieved some-thing in San
Francisco in 1979 that is still to be a reality in Vancouver.
The city government
there passed an anti-conversion bylaw, regulating the ability of property and
hotel owners to change the use of their buildings from housing low income,
long-term tenants to the more lucrative business of tourist and back-packer
rooms. Displacing and making homeless the poor is a consequence that such
owners and developers refuse to be held accountable for, but an obscene example
woke people up in San Francisco .
This is not just a
history lesson. While people were agitating for conversion controls a slum
landlord tried to evict a few hundred seniors from an area that was to be part
of a ‘redevelopment” scheme. They got to the final day and over a hundred
seniors were carried out and deposited on the sidewalk with their belongings
strewn around them. Scores of arrests were made BUT there were over 15,000
people there. It was one of the biggest demonstrations of solidarity since the
anti-war movement. There was a binding referendum on the next election ballot
and this bylaw was in.
Community Action Project got established to do research on housing issues, to
counter the gentrification and market pressures of local and offshore property
owners and to work with housing and tenant groups to establish decent housing
and harm reduction measures in the Downtown Eastside. It was through CCAP that
John Elberling, the current executive director of TODCO, came to Vancouver in
the first week of November. He met with staff of the BC government’s Community
Development Unit and other non-government housing bodies. To assist in the
lobbying and organizing work, he came to Carnegie for a public meeting billed
as “Stop The Evictions”
(CCAP) gave a brief history of SRO (Single Room Occupancy) housing. Tom really
pisses the local NPA politicians off because he uses their facts and figures,
their reports and the laws and bylaws already on the books to make our ‘case’.
In 1980 there were over 13,000 units of SRO housing; the Collier Report (commissioned by the City of Vancouver)
released last month shows less than 8,000 now and an average of 800 being lost
every year - some through demolition & fire, but most due to conversion to
backpacker & tourist use. The latter is accomplished by evicting
long term, low income tenants. This bleak outcome has been thrown down in front
of several Councillors and especially the current Mayor, Philip Owen, with
sadly predictable results.
Owen chooses what facts to believe.. or so he’d have us believe. The inherent
stupidity of saying that the number of new units being built more than makes
up for those lost is just that – stupid. In the Downtown Eastside and Downtown
South hotel after hotel evicts everybody and starts charging by the day or week.
If new housing is for seniors or families or non-poor singles, those who were
evicted from these SROs have no chance of getting apartments or rooms. Owen
would have us believe that he doesn’t understand this, or that he knows that
enacting an anti-conversion bylaw would somehow increase homelessness and we
refuse to see it. The seedier reality is that Owens’s bosses – the corporate
landlords and key owners – have simply said no to such controls or regulation
and Phil (if nothing else) obeys.
John Elberling gave
decent and worthwhile views of what he and the many other community activists
in San Francisco have been up against for the last 20 years. “Landlords lie.
They don’t report or just make it up. If you rent by the month you get certain
rights, so they only rent for 28 days at a time. Slumlords will do anything and
everything to get around or disobey basic laws. Three are illegal conversions
and blatant disregard for bylaws, but the anti-conversion regulations have
helped us keep about half of the 30,000 units that were there for low income
tenants in the 70’s.”
He spoke of
learning to be effective against landlords who would insist they would shut
down whole buildings rather than do essential repairs. SROs are the housing of
last resort – “short of the sidewalk” – yet even the successes they’ve had
came in the midst of such things as a
convention centre and the ensuing loss of a few thousand rooms. Elberling made
no bones about not having a magic wand or some secret for getting housing, and
that in itself was refreshing. Grim humour is the only way to put a light side
to California’s biggest SRO boom in decades – “they’re building prisons.”
all-candidates meeting Vanessa Geary of the Tenants’ Rights Action Coalition
again pressed Owen with the city’s facts & figures and Owen again just
lied. When Vanessa caught him he said “I’ll never back an anti-conversion
bylaw! You’re just wrong.”
Maybe the statement
made by Larry Beasley, then the Assistant Director of Central Planning for
Vancouver, that “The voters of Vancouver could easily live with 25,000 homeless
people and not even notice,” is the idea that Owen and the money running the
Non Partisan Alliance monopoly at City Hall repeat to each other. Look as well
at the efforts to criminalise the activities of poor people – music on the
street, panhandling – and to disperse the denizens of the Downtown Eastside and
have them (and their reps) say thank you. Elberling spoke of the need to
diversify and to engage in economic development. This, to me, makes a lot of
sense. If the obligatory anti-NDP rhetoric in the daily media manages to
convince the majority of voters and residents that anyone else is better, the
government money now coming into the DE will dry up within days of a Liberal victory. Much of the
housing now going in is with provincial money, like it was in Ontario, but Gord
Campbell and his Fraser Institute cohorts will make the hatchet job of Harris
in that province look like a Sunday picnic compared to what they’ll do in the
name of “correcting the NDP’s mistakes.’ here.
We need to have a
say and a hand in promoting and developing enterprises and endeavours that will
benefit local residents and keep this community as livable and dynamic a
neighbourhood as its history deserves. This direction cannot rely solely on
going before authority figures – like politicians and developers’ public hearings
– and asking/lobbying/pleading for them to “be nice
By PAULR TAYLOR
Happy New Year
New Year’s Eve is
just eight weeks away. Will 20th
Century Fox still be called that
after the year 2000? Actually the purists will celebrate the start of the
millennium in 2001 because that’s when it really starts…
Pot has been
illegal only in this, the 20th
century. It wasn’t illegal in the 19th
century. In the 21st
century of George and Elroy Jetson it would be
a tawdry anachronism if pot is still illegal. Legalize pot in the 21st
I plan to stay home
on New Year’s Eve but in reality who knows what will happen. I’ll probably be
grafted onto some party.
This millennium has
seen the invention of the printing press, the advent of a Protestant Christianity
distinct from its Roman Catholic roots, and Buddhism celebrated its 2500th
birthday in the 1950’s. I really hope that Remembrance Day will be celebrated in the next millennium. I hope
that people won’t see it as an acknowledgement of 20th
conflicts and therefore irrelevant. The holocaust must not happen again for,
thanks to the 20th
century, society has installed safeguards to
prevent the rise of another Hitler. [?]
Have a happy and safe New Year and please take good care of yourselves and
WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION (WTO)
On November 30th
U.S. negotiators will meet in Seattle with trade ministers and heads of state
from across the globe to make the decisions that will govern world trade and
investments for decades to come. These negotiations are run by and for the
largest transnational corporations on the planet.
has/was/does&is for the principles of profit uber alles. Anything that is seen as a barrier to
maximum profit is disputed before a closed-door tribunal of a trade ‘court’…
and their ‘ruling’ seeks to make illegal (by threatening sanctions or
retaliation by these same corporations) human rights legislation, environmental
standards, social programs and anti-poverty measures, national sovereignty
assertions, minimum wage laws, preferences for domestic businesses and hiring,
health and safety laws, and consumer legislation.
There was a thing
called the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) that the same moneyed
elite worked on in secret in Paris for over 2 years. They thought to get it
passed by attending governments with no public hearings or even discussion. The
Council of Canadians, in conjunction with activists in the U.S. and Europe,
exposed this MAI for what it is – a corporate Bill of Rights – and forced the
Canadian federal government to listen. The BC provincial government held extensive
hearings and came out soundly condemning the MAI. This added to the worldwide
derogation of the nature of what big business seeks – an economy that is free
of any conscience. The MAI stalled and sank.
Lo and behold, the
entire ‘agreement’ is on the table in Seattle for November 30th
albeit under a different name… Other things aimed for:
prevent the labeling of organic food or “genetically
promote a “free logging” agreement (making illegal any
restrictions on clear-cutting or banning the export or raw logs)
privatize education and health services
limit government procurement (by abolishing the rights of
government to favour ethical, local or national businesses)
enshrine “Rights” for genetic engineering of life forms,
including patenting and ownership of different forms of plant and animal life,
including human genes
It is hazardous to
your health and life to ignore the implications of such global tinkering and
thousands of people agree. To demonstrate belief in an alternative –like Fair
trade and strengthening environmental, trade practice and human protections – a
large-scale demonstration is being organized. It will happen in Seattle on
, a Tuesday. Over fifteen buses are going down from Vancouver,
sponsored by union locals, labour councils, environmental and community organizations.
They will leave about 7;30 a.m. and return about 6:30pm. The BC Federation of
Labour is organizing a WTO rally at the Hyatt Hotel in Vancouver for the
evening of Nov.30th
A bus is departing
from the Downtown Eastside. We need at least 40 people. A sign-up sheet will be
at Carnegie’s front desk. In order to cross the US border with no delay, your
name, birth date and citizenship have to be submitted to the American
Immigration Service prior to going. Sign up by the 21st
If it gets filled then call Randy Parraz, the WTO Mobilization Coordinator, at
Call 5683 hurry, someone is on the crossroads of destruction. It seems that
quite a few people are upset. WHY? Cause this community has come together
-working on removing a lethal drug from this community, worse than heroin and
As you’ve read from other articles in
the Carnegie Newsletter, TV, radio and other papers Rice Wine has and still is
killing many people. Some are in
hospitals while others have made it to a form of detox or treatment centre’s -
they could be suffering from many health issues – from heart failure, liver
damage, kidney devastation and problems with the brain.
Personal history has shown me that
sometimes intervention can be very helpful for some not all. Today I believe
that what this community has done is good.
By getting this lethal drug out of the 24 hour and corner stores, as
well as having the Attorney General’s Office make this law applicable as of
December 1 1999. Anyone caught selling Rice Wine after or on this date can be
I am happy for this Law to come into
effect immediately - this community did it for those who were and still are
suffering. This victory goes to ALL who became involved with the fight towards
removing Rice Wine from all stores in Vancouver.
For this I have been getting threats from people on the street, yelling at me
for doing the right thing. Quite a few have threatened to kill me and or
harm me when I am alone.
My message to them is I am not afraid
of you - I am not weak. I walk these streets of the downtown eastside with my
head held high. My only protect-ion is not the police force - therefore, if you
feel the need to complete this action - it’s your move.
Last newsletter Jeff and I did a thank you note to many people. I left out a
few people. That is Ted Matthew who worked between Victoria and Vancouver. His
hard work paid off, with the help of Susan Parsons. Once again Thanks to
everyone for being a part of this Victory - look for signs
about a celebration party.
Ann Livingston is running for City
Council in the Vancouver election that takes place on November 20th. She is
running as part of the COPE/GREEN alliance.
Ann lives in the Downtown
Eastside, where she is raising her children. She is active in her comm.-unity,
volunteering with various organizations and agencies. Currently, she is the
project coordinator for the Vancouver Area Network Of Drug Users (VANDU). She
believes that Vancouver’s citizens will come together to solve the city’s crime
problems in practical, cost-effective ways.
Ann is sympathetic to the voices
of poor people, unemployed people, displaced persons, ill people, people with
disabilities, people with addictions, people who are still dying of overdoses,
parents who are worried about their children and drugs.
Her platform includes decreasing
Vancouver’s crime rate by creating effective, well-researched interventions for
people addicted to drugs. Using land owned by the City of Vancouver for
afford-able housing, and developing an accessible and affordable transit system
for all citizens, especially children.
Ann will speak up for the
community. She will not let those with great wealth and power take over. She
will speak the truth about what’s really happening in the downtown eastside.
So, please remember to vote on
November 20, for Ann Livingston.
A new friend.
the Dugout, Vancouver
While the Gastown Historic Area
Planning Committee, Gastown Homeowners Association and whatever other committee
the handful of spokespeople for that useless and insulting trinket filled tourist
rip-off continues its obsessive and inane vendetta against the food line at the
Dugout, where the presence of benches at said Dugout seems to have sent them
into a frothy fury of animosity against people without money and with dirty
clothes, (for god’s sake keep them indoors
and out of site, or in the
damn alleys where they belong, or maybe just get rid of the single room hotels
altogether and they can sleep and sit under the viaduct and not anywhere near
our investments, I mean residences, for then they would have no reason to be
here at all, since all the goods in our stores and our restaurants are notoriously
over-priced, and the food sucks, except for maybe one East Indian restaurant)
and while Vancouver, the only major city in North America without a municipal
ward system, descends yet again into an undemocratic civic so-called election
where the stupidest and most criminal element, represented by the NPA, at the
so-called head of which slinks a man whose greatest fear is that, if he stopped
for one minute holding himself in and looking past people, if he let himself
relax and look at people, if he listened to anyone but the people with more
money and confidence and personality than him with whom he identifies but who
he can never dream of emulating, the criminal ineptitude that courses through
his being might break out from his constricted self and flow in endless
torrents of unappealing and forgettable mediocrity, a groundless fear since
everyone knows he’s inept and ridiculous anyway, I want to write something about anything else but this so-called
election and the trinket rip-off Gastown or anything to do with this backwards
and unlivable city, which seems to infect everyone in it with bad humour,
self-so-called-centredness, boundless impatience etc. There are other things to
write about, to think about, but they seem to disappear under the blanket of
ignorance that has taken the place of living in Vancouver. Vancouver is not a
city but a blanket of ignorance and trivialities, an empty film canister, and
camera running on empty, a surveillance of its own arrogant vacancy.
Reading Room News Flash!!
Carnegie is pleased and very honoured to welcome Roch Carrier.
Mr. Carrier, who is the National Librarian, will be touring the Carnegie
Library and Centre on Thursday, November 18th at 4:15 p.m.
Roch Carrier is a well-known Quebecois author. He has received many prizes
and honours for his work, which includes books for both children and adults.
His book Prayers for Very Young Children won the Stephen Leacock prize
for humour in 1991
Bienvenue À Carnegie!
World AIDS Day
From 9AM to 10PM
video “TB, HIV, The Connection
C BC, talk
Bob Hogg, “HIV Vaccine Trials” w/ Greg Elzonga, A/V Board
Workshop, “AIDS ABC’S”
Peabody, “HIV and Nutrition”
Weiser, “Psychotherapy, HIV”
Montaner, “Update, HIV Antiviral Treatment”
Candlelight Ceremony, Candlelight Memorial and Vigil Committee
Productions, movie “IV Positive”
There will be booths, dignitaries and street nurses inside
and outside the Centre all day, panels from the AIDS quilt will be on display,
and food will be served.
December 6, 1999
Women’s March in
Memory of the Montreal Massacre
starts at Pigeon
Park 12 noon
Poster-making gatherings for the march at Downtown
Eastside Women’s Centre
Nov. 26 2 - 4 PM
Dec. 3 2-4 PM
video: “Maker of Change”
509 E. Hastings (Senior’s Centre)
Dec. 2 3 - 5 PM