Heather Conn Blogs

spoutin’ about by the sea

Good-bye, Tundra

Sadly, the beautiful, mellow dog Tundra, who appears on my blog main page and on my business cards, has died. I will miss this sweet-souled creature, part Siberian Husky, and his soft yet glacial ice eyes. (I remembered him as having one blue eye and one green, but Duane corrected me.) Tundra was 15.

In Tundra’s honour, his owner, Duane Burnett, has launched a fundraising campaign to install water fountains along the oceanfront walkways on B.C.’s Sunshine Coast. These would include a fountain low to the ground, reachable for dogs, and a wheelchair-accessible one higher up on the same vertical column. Anyone on the Sunshine Coast can make a donation at the Sunshine Coast Credit Union.

If you want to help or know more, check out the FaceBook Fan Page that Duane set up for the Drinking Fountain Fundraising Campaign.

February 9, 2010 at 6:09 pm Comment (1)

Vancouver’s got its own Checkpoint Charlie

A German friend of mine who lives near Main Street and East 5th Avenue in Vancouver, BC said that it looks like Checkpoint Charlie around 2nd Avenue and Quebec Street. She’s got helicopters flying over her condo about every 20 minutes.

I encourage you to read the article “Class-War Games: The financial and social cost of ‘securing’ the 2010 Olympics”, which appeared in the May/June 2009 issue of Briarpatch Magazine, based in Regina, Sask. The article’s authors, Chris A. Shaw and Alissa Westergard-Thorpe, state: “Olympic boosterism has worked to exclude critical voices and suppress important public policy questions.”

They add: “Growing numbers of people oppose the host of issues that accompany the modern Olympic Games: the commercialization of sport, lack of transparency in government [some  public companies that hold Olympics-related meetings are not taking minutes to leave no record of the discussion], backroom deals for real estate and development interests, exploitative labour standards for migrant workers, promotion of corporate sponsors with appalling human rights and ecological records (including Nike, Shell, Royal Bank, Petro-Canada, Dow Chemical, Teck Cominco, General Electric, General Motors and Coca-Cola), and appropriation of public space.”

Activist Harsha Walia, in a Feb. 8 Vancouver Sun opinion piece, says: “[T]axpayers are the real sponsors of the $6 billion-$7 billion Winter Games.” A January 2010 EKOS poll revealed that 70 per cent of respondents think that too much money is being spent on this months’ Winter Games in Vancouver.

Meanwhile, U.S. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is going to carry the torch through Stanley Park. Apparently, he’s a good friend of B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell. Did Gordo and Arnie make a deal regarding California’s “runaway (film) productions” relocating to Vancouver? Did Gordo promise a sweet I.P.P. deal for California, or a guarantee to prevent the state’s next blackout? Who knows what resources have changed hands between those two?!

February 9, 2010 at 4:00 pm Comments (0)

What a catalyst to honour Canada, the Creek, and community

                                                                                                                     — Heather Conn photos

Last week, on Feb. 4, I temporarily set aside my criticisms of the Olympics and celebrated Roberts Creek spirit and community with several hundred others. As local children waved Canadian flags or tissue-paper torches they had made in school, we greeted torch relay runner Caroline Depatie and her youthful co-torch runner, whose name I don’t know. (I had no idea that Caroline was going to be the torch runner; she just lives a few doors down from us in Roberts Creek and is my work contact at Capilano University in Sechelt.)

                  Roberts Creek resident Caroline Depatie


I saw how touched the young torch runner was, almost in tears, and saw her mother hug her and say: “I’m so proud of you.” How could anyone fault that heartfelt interaction? Seeing the excitement and glee of the children made me realize the positive impact that such a  global event can have on kids when the torch comes  to people’s communities. But they sure don’t need the message of competition, competition, competition and that winning is everything. Besides, where’s the funding for school sports groups that the B.C. government took away?




A poignant encounter wasn’t enough to make me forget about our — taxpayers’ —  impending debt from the Olympics, its exclusive corporate marketing deals and use of sports as a merchandising commodity, surveillance cameras, massive cost overruns, and, in the words of British historian George Monbiot, its “legacy of a transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich . . .they have become a licence for land grabs.”


I wanted to wretch at the abrasive canned music of the Coca-Cola “float” that followed the torch runners, especially with its bouncy young dancers and corporate slogan “Open happiness.” I was pleased to see that few people lined on either side of Roberts Creek Road took any of the small freebie bottles of Coke handed out by young, smile-stuck shills. (Coca-Cola, by the way, hopes to sell nine million units of bottled water during the Olympics in Vancouver. Meanwhile, we’re supposed to believe that a Big Mac and Coke are the hearty, healthy breakfast of an Olympic champion — “do you believe?”)


Thankfully, we had some Roberts Creek, gumboot-clad musical talent to offset the corporate melodies of Royal Bank and Coke. Lead singer Mark Lebbell, who chairs the Creek’s Official Community Plan Committee, sang these lyrics, which he wrote himself:

Nero was getting nervous, as he sat there on the throne
People needing bread, filled the streets of Rome
He knew the crash was coming, he knew he had to act
He said: “We need a Circus, 5 Rings that will distract”


Let’s straighten out the highways, build some Coliseums
Folks will fly from miles around just to come and see ’em
Pave the Callahan Valley, clear the rabble from the streets
Invite the Northern Hemisphere, and party for two weeks


He knew from 1936 it was good for the nation
And any other country, that could afford refrigeration
As people lined up for a piece of the apple pie
He stood on stolen land, explained how televisions had rights

He said you’re gonna love it, but we’ll need 12,000 cops
Only going to cost us 4, 5, 6 billion, tops
3 Pokemon for mascots, the eagle’s the one in the middle
And climbed upon an innukshuk, and took out his fiddle



But the people realized, there isn’t any correlation
Between a giant corporate orgy, and participation or paction
We’re all for healthy living, we’re all for chasing dreams
but debt and spandex superheroes aren’t what our kids need

There was a yellow ring for Royal Bank,
One red ring for Coke
One ring for the green wash
That’s all a bit of a joke
Two for wasted time and money,
Black and blue for all
But there’s no . . .gold . . .rings for the kid with a ball


I liked the yellow gumboots that Caroline Depatie was wearing — a nice touch. Donna Shugar, chair of the Sunshine Coast Regional District (who was left off the invitation list for the Olympic festivities in Sechelt) encouraged Roberts Creek torch relay attendees to wear our community’s trademark gumboots. She, of course, wore hers.


I had expected to see some protest signs at the Creek event and had thought of making one of my own, but my husband Frank encouraged me to keep the community focus on the pleasure of the kids. I took his advice. Donna Shugar had shared the message “Loving kindness to all, loving kindness to all.”

That same afternoon, when my husband and I went to the Langdale ferry terminal to drop off my friend Annie, we had no idea that we could encounter another torch relay. (I confess: we didn’t read the recent media.) When we tried to pull out of the parking lot, a BC Ferries employee stopped us and told us a torch procession would be coming down soon. I was delighted to see the torch relay participant roll past us in a wheelchair.






Gee, even some of the most hardened cynics can stay patriotic to Canada. And people think that we Canadians aren’t nationalists . . .

February 9, 2010 at 8:53 am Comment (1)