Tag Archives: story telling

New Year rising

by Stan Hirst

Misty sun breaks through rising seafog. Chilly breeze stirs from the Salish Sea, whispering messages from distant island forests. Gulls rise; eagles search; scaups bob and scuttle, crows lay low and caw.

Take the Seawalk. Sun behind us. No oil slicks. They’ll come one day. Plod plod plod plod plod. Early morning spandexed nymphs and lyraced gods surge past and on to glory. Used to do that once, I think.

Ships at anchor in English Bay. Seventeen in total. Just keep coming and going. Yokohama, Shanghai, Kaohsiung, Port Klang, Tianjin, Qingdao, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Nanjing and Frisco Bay. Timber, wood pulp, canola, wheat and phosphate goes; nine-month jeans and plastic dreck comes. Can it endure? Marathassa was a warning. No dilbit yet. Sae let the Lord (and the gate watchers) be thankit.

Snow on Seymour, shining bright, Lions gleaming way up yonder. Look back at Koma Kulshan radiant under the rising sun. What would the lieutenant think today?

Bridge rises high out of the morning swirl. Pearl necklaces of cars twinkle behind the girders, fifty per minute. Corollas, Mercs and Beemers rule, F100’s too. Priuses, Leafs and Teslas lurk. Seaplanes clatter overhead: Comox, Sechelt and Maple Bay. Used to do that too, I think. The seaplanes, not the Teslas.

Coffee time. Time-honoured West Coast tradition rules. Hunch up and elbow through. Stay close behind me Dear: damn’d yuppies got no respect for their Elders. Laptops rule. Tickety tick. Spreadsheets abound. Yak yak yak. Expensive smiles. Condo deals. Colombian dark. Hah!

Back to Seawalk. Sunshine now. Plod plod plod plod plod. See the seal diving just inshore? Searching for a coho. Get past these old people, they’re so damn’d slow. What’s that lingo they’re speaking?

The seawalk’s wet here? It didn’t rain. Waves overtopped the wall. Will happen more and more methinks. Sea levels rising. Climate change? Indeed. How come it rains more in rainy places, snows more in snowy places, but just drought and death in Darfur? No fairness there.

Reached the pier, time for a breather. Three shiny otters lounge on the pontoon deck. There’s no plastic on the water, no plastic on the beach, coffee dregs in my personal mug.

Happy New Year!

Embracing cultural diversity in Canada

By Cynthia Lam

This year is the 50th anniversary of the Order of Canada, established in 1967 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as the cornerstone of the Canadian Honours System to recognize outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation. The Order of Canada’s motto is Desiderantes meliorem patriam (They desire a better country). Some 6000 Canadians have been recipients of the award over the years; all have enriched the lives of others and made a difference to this country.

This year has also been my 50th anniversary of being here in Canada. I came to work at EXPO 67 in Montreal, 50 years ago, and then returned later to pursue my studies in social work. I spent my first 37 years of my Canadian life in Montreal.

[Blogmaster’s note – Cynthia Lam was honoured as a recipient of the Order of Canada in Montreal, Quebec, in 2002 for being one of the first women in Quebec and Canada to give voice and visibility to Asian communities. In 2004 she moved to Vancouver with her husband.]

The first wave of Chinese laborers who immigrated to Canada experienced state-imposed discriminatory laws and racial prejudices, specifically targeting the Chinese and the Aboriginal people, and bringing generations of untold suffering to the two communities. A deep bond between the two communities as well as intermarriage between them has grown out of their shared history of living with oppressive racism.

The city of Vancouver was incorporated in 1886, and until 1947, a period of some 60 years, Chinese were barred from many civil rights, including burials in cemeteries, ownership of property, right to join a profession, and the right to access regular medical care.

Waves of Chinese immigration followed the repeal of racist immigration laws in the 1960s, the handover of Hong Kong back to China in the 1990s, and the onset of the current economic boom in China. Each of these migrations came to Canada with different motivations, and they have had vastly different and diverse experiences here.

Canada has been a country of immigrants ever since the 16th century, beginning with the influxes of French and English immigrants. Having many important qualities as a nation, we continue to attract more and more immigrants whose skills, talents, and investments are vital to making Canada competitive and strong in the world. The multi-cultural diversity they bring along with them enriches our society.

The government of Canada has recently announced the raising of the immigration level to 1 million over the next three years, the most ambitious level in recent history. Four in every 5 of these immigrants will be from visible minority. It has been projected that within two decades, 7 in 10 of Metro Vancouver residents will be non-white.

Partly because of the proximity of being neighbours across the Pacific, and partly because of their increasing wealth, immigrants from China have become a major minority group. There are now 1.2 million people of Chinese origin in Canada, about 4% of the total population and 21% of all visible minorities. In Metro Vancouver 1 out of 5 new arrivals since 2006 is Chinese-speaking, comprising about 25% of the total population, and with more than 50% settling in Richmond. Percentage-wise there are now more Chinese professionals and managerial personnel than other immigrant groups within the Canadian population in general.

As we see in the daily news, immigration and diversity can bring about problems that need to be addressed. A case in point is the explosive growth of real estate values in Vancouver. However, such problems are not unique to Vancouver, nor to Canada, nor to the Chinese community either. It’s indeed a global issue. London, England, for example, is struggling to curb real estate speculation by buyers from Russia and Malaysia. Substantial purchase of American properties by the Japanese in the 1980’s was another example. The Arab language has now become the third most-spoken language in Montreal, after French and English, and that has engendered some anti-immigrant sentiment and some controversial legislation.

Yes, immigration brings opportunities as well as problems, but in this shrinking world with its global economy increasing population movements are inevitable. This complex problem must be addressed. If we can start by moving from a position of being afraid and of rejecting differences to one of tolerating differences and then eventually to appreciating the benefits of such differences, the door will be opened for embracing cultural differences and the celebration of diversity.

In my opinion there is a parallel between addressing the human diversity issue, and adapting to climate change. They both are global in nature, and both are confronting us at an unprecedented speed. Therefore, they must both be addressed with the importance and urgency they each deserve.

As we know, Vancouver is aiming to become the greenest city by 2020 . We should strive to take up the challenge to successfully embrace diversity and to set an example for other multicultural cities around the world to look up to and to learn from! And, to make Vancouver truly the most livable city in the world.

Calling Mom

by Stan Hirst

Oh, hello Mom.  How are you? Is dad still doing fine?

Yes, we’re OK, no colds or ‘flu, that’s always a good sign.

Jody wears the dung’rees you sent, just about worn them through,

Billy’s now playing junior league, he joined the Boy Scouts too.

Oh, Tom’s O.K., working hard, keeping the herd close by.

The crops are in, what there is, prices aren’t too high.

Actually, Mom, that’s why I called. We won’t come by this fall.

Tom’s got a job. Yes, at the mill. Same work he did before.

Rains never came as usual here, things haven’t been that great,

We lost the soy crop on the bench, just couldn’t irrigate.

Extension guy says its all true – our rainfall’s changed for good.

Longer drought spells, lots more dry wells, ain’t doing what they should.

Oh yes Mom, I remember what Dad said back way when,

“In ’32 the rains failed too, the storms showed up and then?”

The extension guy was by last week and had a word with Tom,

Said folks like us had it good, but now we got to change, Mom.

Rains might come, so might droughts, we’ll never know for certain.

Making out that it’ll all pan out is just setting it up for hurtin’.

How is who?  Oh, Maxine Roux. She moved back to the city.

Sold her land to Pete’s Gravel & Sand, I think that’s such a pity.

So that’s my news. Life goes on. Que sera sera.

You told me once that resilience will take a person far

Prairie life’s not easy life, we’ll just keep standing tall.

Got to go now. I’ll call again. Love to Dad and all.

 

 

 

What’s your story?

by Jill Schroder

What if Einstein was wrong? “The world is made up of stories, not atoms.” Poet Muriel Rukeyser once said just this!

So, what’s your story?  Here are a few points to ponder, enjoy, laugh about, and share as we consider stories, their importance, the role they play in our lives, and bring awareness to our personal answer to the question.

In the beginning was Story. The caveman rushed back to his tribe and excitedly acted out his encounter with some Paleolithic beast. This was his story, and forever after he would be remembered by this story. Every story has a sacred dimension, not because of gods, but because a man’s or woman’s sense of self and their world is created through them. These stories orient the life of a people through time and establish the reality of their world. Thus are meaning and purpose given to people’s lives. “Without story we do not exist. “ This is how Catherine Ann Jones introduce her Writing Course The Way of Story.

We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart” writes Pema Chodron

What’s your story about troubles in the world? What about relationships – the difficult ones?   John Hume wrote “Difference is the essence of Humanity.  Difference is an accident of birth and it should therefore never be the source of hatred or conflict.  The answer to difference is to respect it.  Therein likes a most fundamental principle of peace: respect for diversity.”

Eleanor Roosevelt adds “We have to face the fact that either all of us are going to die together or we are going to learn to live together, and if we are to live together we have to talk.”

The more we take the welfare of others to heart and work for their benefit, the more benefit we derive for ourselves.  This is a fact that we can see.” Does this story of H.H. XIV Dalai Lama resonate with you?

What about love in our stories?  “No form of love is wrong, so long as it is love, and you yourself honour what you are doing. Love has an extraordinary variety of forms! And that is all that there is in life, it seems to me”  (D.H. Lawrence).

Moving to another dimension, I invite you to consider not only “What’s Your Story”, but also “What world do you want to see?”  Enjoy these images and let them take you on a journey of appreciation and wonder at the miraculous world we are lucky to inhabit.

Of course, there is a realm, a dimension of reality, where all words, let alone stories, drop away and become a limitation on and of the Oneness.  Still, there is much value in considering, enjoying, assessing, and choosing the stories that frame and reframe our lives here on the incredible planet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In closing, relish these exhortations from (might you have guessed?) – Mother Teresa!

Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.

Life is beauty, admire it.

Life is a dream, realize it.

Life is a challenge, meet it.

Life is a duty, complete it.

Life is a game, play it.

Life is a promise, fulfill it.

Life is sorrow, overcome it.

Life is a song, sing it.

Life is a struggle, accept it.

Life is a tragedy, confront it.

Life is an adventure, dare it.

Life is luck, make it.

Life is too precious, do not destroy it.

Life is life, fight for it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rain, restoring rain….

by Lillian Ireland

 

Sunlight, reflecting off the washed wet leaves,
leaves laden with dew and much needed moisture
from yesterday’s rain…

The cloudy, grey smoke covering and coating each cedar branch,
each maple leaf, each blade of grass, each blackberry leaf,
now, clean and green, strangely alive again,
washed afresh by the healing, restoring rain.

The glistening, even on the dead, fallen leaves
given up by summer’s scorching heat
lay scattered on the path
waiting to do their work and give back to the earth.

The path, no longer choking with dust, beckons me somehow
to find my way again, along her meandering turns.

The layered grief of summer’s intense heat
and blanketed smoke from the flagrant, vagrant fires
kept me away…    too long.

Today, I am home again as the sunlight reflects off the leaves
leaves laden with dew and much needed moisture
from yesterday’s rain…

 

 

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