Will 2010 be the year of the open media movement?


Some of us have made New Year’s resolutions to exercise more, eat healthier and spend more time with friends and family, etc. While these are important personal goals, it may be the right time to also have a loftier collective resolution: to radically open up our media system in 2010.

I’ve written before about how the combination of big corporate media’s self-mutilation and the increasing proliferation of the open Internet has created an historic opportunity to transform both Canada’s media system, and even our concept of citizenship, government and institutions in general. What I have been somewhat remiss in discussing is the third and most important factor leading to transformative change in media – what I’m calling the open media movement.

Open media emerges

The burgeoning open media movement is really a constellation of interconnected yet distinct communities, which are advancing open communication and defending our communication rights and values. These communities include those that have come together around open source software, open data, open Internet, open web, open content, open education, open government and many more. What brings all these thriving communities together is, of course, the value of “openness.”

At first glance, open media is simply about the issues listed above with values such as accessibility, choice, collaboration, diversity, openness and transparency. While these values intersect to create an essential nucleus for media innovation, they are only starting points. For example, access and choice, in addition to putting value in real choice for online content and Internet service providers, also touch on the need for media literacy, knowledge and media production programs. Closing the digital divide is about more than just providing access to the Internet. Having access to the Internet without the time and knowledge needed to fully utilize it is a half measure at best.

Likewise, diversity and innovation are not simply abstract concepts. A media system that supports diversity and ground-up innovation includes enabling mechanisms for different ownership models, including independent, non-profit, campus, community and public media. The best way to support cultural creators, media workers, citizen producers and consumers is by developing an underpinning of diversity that we can tap into.

2010: The coming out party

It looks promising that 2010 will be the year when the open media movement coalesces. This year, the Mozilla Foundation will launch an initiative specifically focused on supporting and advancing the open web. Considering that more than 300 million people – one in every four web users – use Mozilla’s Firefox browser, it’s exciting to hear that it plans to take a more active role in advancing the open web.

The open data community is also poised to reach new heights this year. Last year saw open data-focused Change Camp events in several cities across the country. Vancouver enacted an “Open Motion” and local governments are now pursuing similar policies

And let’s not forget about the open Internet movement. In 2009, town hall events occurred in four cities; more than 12,000 comments were sent to the CRTC and there was Liberal and NDP support in parliament, along with a competitive broadband campaign that saw nearly 100,000 letters sent to parliament. This year, we can expect the open Internet community to broaden its focus and push for a broadband plan for Canada.

Those who understand the importance of having open media should step up their efforts this year. Right now, we have a window of opportunity to re-imagine media in Canada, but that window can and will close if we don’t quickly put the pillars of an open media system in place. Together, we can ensure that, at the end of 2010, media will be more open than at the start of the year.

Steve Anderson is the national coordinator for the Campaign for Democratic Media. He contributed to Censored 2008 and Battleground: The Media, and has written for The Tyee, Toronto Star, Epoch Times and Adbusters. Reach him at:

Sharing mealtimes

NUTRISPEAK by Vesanto Melina

Advice about healthy eating may be fine, but often our challenge is a matter of lifestyle and social support rather than a lack of knowledge about vitamins or protein. It’s not much fun creating nourishing meals when one sits alone at the table day after day. While ads might feature couples enjoying candlelit dinners together, when our partner is gone and family members live far away, many of us are left with no mealtime companion other than the television. Since numerous people face this identical situation, it’s worthwhile doing some exploring. The result: isolation problems can become a distant memory.

Reach out: You have no idea how happy you will make someone if you do the unexpected and invite an acquaintance over to share a meal and perhaps prepare it together. Your guest might even help pick a recipe or join you in shopping for ingredients. You can do this even when you don’t know how to cook very well – perhaps your guest has chef skills or you can bumble through the preparation together. If your recipe fails, have a good laugh and go out for dinner!

Join a diner’s group or a vegetarian association: More and more communities have a lively vegetarian association and membership spans the spectrum from newborns to ninety-year-olds and those arriving via wheelchair. If you can’t find such an association, ask around for people with whom you might start a monthly potluck. Existing groups often began with two or three members. An example is EarthSave, which offers dineouts and potlucks. (www.earthsave.ca/events) Also see www.islandveg.com. For raw food events on Vancouver Island and throughout the mainland, see www.rawbc.org

Explore cohousing or similar group living solutions: I have the extreme good fortune of living in the wonderful and thriving WindSong Cohousing Community in Langley. Cohousing is a modern form of village that originated in Denmark several decades ago. BC has 12 such communities, either established – including three in the Lower Mainland – or in the formative stage. They offer the joint advantage of home ownership plus connection with a vibrant and diverse community of people. Cohousing appeals to people of different generations and from diverse walks of life. The Canadian Cohousing Network website (www.cohousing.ca) provides information about locations, tours and other details.

An event that will appeal to those interested in cohousing takes place Friday, January 15 at 7 PM at the Abbotsford Recreation Centre, Rooms 2/3, 34690 Old Yale Rd. in Abbotsford. Call 1-604-823-7398 for more information. Architect Charles Durrett, who participated in the design of WindSong, will talk about cohousing and his most recent book, The Senior Cohousing Handbook.

A related solution to the challenge of isolation for seniors can be found at Abbeyfield Houses where 10 to 15 residents live like a large “family,” sharing meals and developing friendships. (www.abbeyfield.ca)

Visit your local community centre: You’ll be surprised at the innovative food-related programs that have sprung up throughout BC. See sidebar for examples.

Vesanto Melina is a dietitian and co-author of nutrition classics Becoming Vegetarian, Becoming Vegan, Raising Vegetarian Children, the Food Allergy Survival Guide and The Raw Revolution Diet. For personal consultations, call 604-882-6782 or visit www.nutrispeak.com

Cooking up community at 
your local community centre

Fresh Choice Kitchens can help you find a community kitchen in your area, discover how to start such a project in your neighbourhood or gain food-related skills and resources. For information, visit www.communitykitchens.ca or phone Diane Collis at 604-876-0659, ext. 118.

Trout Lake Cedar Cottage Food Security Network: learn about buying clubs, community gardens, community supported agriculture, drop-in programs that serve food and weekly recipe demonstrations with sampling and nutrition information. Visit www.tlccfoodsecurity.blogspot.com and www.cnh.bc.ca/foodsecurity/. In other areas, call your local health unit and ask to speak to the community nutritionist.

Little Mountain Neighbourhood House offers cooking programs and potluck lunches for seniors. Visit www.lmnhs.bc.ca or call 604-879-7104.

The Vancouver Food Providers’ Coalition lists numerous resources at www.cln.vcn.bc.ca/comembers

South Vancouver Neighbourhood House offers a cooking club and lunches; see www.southvan.org/seniors.html or phone Carmen at 604-324-6212.

Through your local community centre or online investigation, you will find abundant opportunities to share meals with pleasant neighbours and potential friends.


Food network a vital initiative

ON THE GARDEN PATH by Carolyn Herriot

On December 4, 80 people representing all kinds of links along our local food chain gathered mid-Island at Vancouver Island University to discuss the possibility of creating a Vancouver Island food systems network. By the end of the day, there was so much enthusiasm for this concept that the VIFSN was launched then and there. To my mind, this is an initiative vital to bringing people together to work for greater food security, an issue uppermost in many people’s minds these days. We now have a valuable tool for putting the “culture” back into “agriculture” where it belongs!

Please consider the following facts that came out of our day together. You may perhaps have something to contribute to the VIFSN or the BCFSN as these networks gather momentum in the new year.

Farming on Vancouver Island

  • Population: 726, 367.
  • The largest crop on Vancouver Island today is hay.
  • We grow four percent of the food we consume (and export some too).
  • We have three days of emergency food supply before supermarket shelves are bare.
  • We have lost the infrastructure for local food distribution and processing.
  • Island farmers are, on average, 55-years-old.
  • New farmers have trouble finding affordable land.
  • The price of food in Canada is the lowest in the world.
  • There is a chronic farm income crisis, according to the National Farmers Union.
  • If food prices rise, it means food poverty for people on income assistance.

Statistics for Vancouver Island show we are:

  • 35% sufficient in dairy
  • 18% sufficient in chicken
  • 68% sufficient in eggs
  • 8% sufficient in fruit
  • 7% sufficient in veggies

On Vancouver Island, farming viewed as gross sales looks like this:

  • Farmers earning $100,000 or more: 261
  • Farmers earning less than $100,000: 2,594
  • 1,834 (64%) of these farms have sales less than $10,000
  • 9% of farmers generate 80% of gross farm receipts
  • 91% of farmers generate 20% of gross farm receipts

According to indigenous coastal elders, in the past, our food and medicine were found all around us. “When the tide is out, the table is set” and “The forests are our pharmacies” were mantras of the day. Today, this traditional knowledge is rapidly disappearing and there is a sense of urgency in preserving it for future generations. Revitalization of traditional practices is being viewed as a survival issue among indigenous people.

Modern food systems have been highly altered by processed foods, high in fat and sugar. The incidence of diabetes and obesity in youth is now of major concern to health authorities, who consider the economic impact on our future healthcare system.

How do we create a Vancouver Island Diet?

  • By pooling resources and working together.
  • By re-investing in farming.
  • By providing education for farmers and ongoing support for them.
  • By creating a Food System Network.
  • By returning profits to farmers so they can succeed financially.
  • By farming with value-added.
  • By connecting people from diverse cultures.
  • By revitalizing food systems: community gardens, school gardens, etc.
  • By investing in youth leadership.

A network shares common attributes, makes diverse connections for maximum innovation, identifies leadership, facilitates connections and collaborations, shares available resources and creates re-engagement between elders and youth.

The Vancouver Island Food Systems Network was launched during the first week of December. It will begin the work of making the changes we urgently need to create a more secure agricultural future. The population of Vancouver Island is set to increase 30 percent by 2050 so we need a plan for how we are going to feed all these people. The time to plan is now.

Eat happily over the holidays.

Carolyn Herriot is author of A Year on the Garden Path: A 52-Week Organic Gardening Guide. She grows Seeds of Victoria at the Garden Path Centre where she teaches The Zero Mile Diet – Twelve Steps to Sustainable Homegrown Food Production and Growing an Edible Plant Business.www.earthfuture.com/gardenpath

Anxiety – ego’s shadow

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young

In my practice, I treat many people for anxiety. Probably everyone has experienced anxiety at one time or another. Anxiety is normal in certain situations: when someone close to us experiences sudden, serious illness or if we have momentarily lost sight of our young child or if there is a terrorist threat.

However, many people experience anxiety over the ordinary events of life. I became curious about how we could understand anxiety from the perspective of ego and soul. It seems clear to me that anxiety is an ego reaction and it is based on fear. While in scientific terms, the opposite of an anxious state would be a relaxed state, in ego and soul terms, the opposite of anxiety is trust. I say this because when we experience anxiety, it is generally because we do not feel in control of a situation. We fear things will not turn out the way we hope and that we will experience loss, failure or embarrassment.

Ego, as we well know, has a mind of its own. It experiences the world in terms of good/bad, right/wrong win/lose and other polar opposites. It is as though for ego life is full of coin tosses and ego wants to win the flip every time. Statistically, this is impossible so ego must get to work in a variety of ways to get the outcome it desires. If the outcome is not guaranteed, ego begins to fret.

Not only does it worry about the outcome, but ego also conjures up all manner of consequences that would follow from an undesirable result. Hence, this kind of thinking ensues: “If he doesn’t ask me out, I’ll probably be alone for the rest of my life and I’ll undoubtedly struggle financially and end up a bag-lady,” or “If my child disobeys me when he is five, what will he be like at 15? He’ll probably have a bad attitude and get in with the wrong crowd. Then he’ll get into drugs and end up on the street.” This ego catastrophizing is a perfect formula for generating anxiety.

If we come from the perspective of soul, our world looks and feels different. Soul recognizes that our lives unfold and the circumstances therein form the curriculum of study for this lifetime. Things will not always go according to our plan. That would be too easy. Rather, life will surprise, disappoint, confound, dismay and puzzle us. Just when you think you have it all figured out, it changes.

We learn that we can either play it safe, sticking with the familiar, or we can take risks, try new things and stretch ourselves. The choice is not always ours. Unplanned occurrences can reshape us in ways we never dreamed possible. Sometimes the worst thing that could happen to us turns out to be the best thing that ever happened.

It is easy to see why this is a difficult, challenging and frustrating game for ego to play. There really are no rules one can count on. Ego only frustrates, worries and agitates itself trying to beat the system.

Soul, on the other hand, trusts the big picture. Soul accepts that life will be an interesting adventure and that we will win some and lose some. That does not matter so much as long as we are growing, learning, gaining wisdom and perhaps even enlightenment.

Soul patiently waits to see how long ego will struggle before figuring it out. Soul knows that ego only needs to surrender, in order to cease the struggle. When ego does surrender, life becomes calmer, smoother and more relaxed. Life is still what it was; life was never the problem. The difference is that ego has given up resisting the irresistible.

As for anxiety, the minute we surrender, release our attachments and trust in the flow of life, it disappears, for it was never real; it was only ego’s shadow.

Gwen Randall-Young is a psychotherapist in private practice and author ofGrowing Into Soul: The Next Step in Human Evolution. For more articles, permission to reprint and information about her books and “Deep Powerful Change” personal growth/hypnosis CDs, visit www.gwen.ca

What lies beneath


An impressive black and white film with fastidious attention to period detail, The White Ribbon won the Palme D’Or, top prize at Cannes.

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke’s brand of filmmaking has been aptly described as “Hitchcock without the melodrama.” He also avoids neat conclusions, preferring ambiguity and the provocation of uncertainty so that his films clatter endlessly around your brain afterward. You may remember the eerie Hidden (Caché) where he depicted the increasingly taut relationship between a Parisian couple secretly being videoed at home by someone unknown, who then sends them copies of the tapes.

Haneke’s latest, The White Ribbon (Das weisse Band: Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte), out in Vancouver on January 15, is again deep in tense mystery, this time in a small village in North Germany just before the start of World War One.

On the surface, the staunchly religious village seems peaceful and orderly, but a series of ugly and inexplicable crimes shake the community: a doctor falls off his horse, apparently tripped by a rigged wire. The son of the local baron is found beaten. A barn is burned down. With no indication as to who is behind these disturbing incidents, a cloud of suspicion begins to permeate the village.

The film is narrated by a mild-mannered village schoolteacher who, as an old man, remembers the events as the war approached. His narration provides a welcome warmth of tone, capturing the day-to-day tempo of rural life as well as his young romance with a nanny at the baron’s estate. But Haneke’s major thematic pre-occupation here is with subtly rooting out unsettling aspects of human nature. As the film delves deeper into the nature of the community, there is the suggestion that this is how seeds of fascism are sown.

The White Ribbon won the Palme D’Or, top prize at Cannes, this past summer and has since picked up many more awards and nominations. It’s an impressive looking film, with its fastidious attention to period detail and its crisp black and white cinematography; it was actually shot in colour and then converted to black and white in post-production to create its super-sharp look. The film is in German with English subtitles.

Director Jon Amiel’s Creation, opening in Vancouver on January 22, is another film with an untypical take on a major historical landmark – the publication of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species in 1859. Darwin is played by British actor Paul Bettany (the botanically-minded ship’s doctor inMaster and Commander: The Far Side of the World), who, racked with grief and guilt after losing his nine-year-old daughter to illness, is struggling to complete his seminal work. He is also intimately aware of the consequences of unleashing a theory that will “kill God.” The clash of evolutionist and creationist worldviews are framed within Darwin’s relationship with his God-fearing and increasingly estranged wife, played by Jennifer Connelly (Bettany’s real-life wife).

Perhaps unsurprisingly, considering the subject, Creation has received mixed reviews thus far: praise for the performances and the tone of the drama; criticism for the lack of hard philosophical and scientific ideas and for suggesting that the death of his daughter had held him back.

The Sundance Film Festival kicks off on January 21. Among this year’s shorts line-up are three National Film Board of Canada animations:RunawayVive la Rose and Rains. So far, only trailers are on the NFB site (nfb.ca), but the archive has two entertaining earlier works by one of the filmmakers, Cordell Barker. The Cat Came Back (1988, 7 min.) and Strange Invaders (2001, 8 min.) were both Oscar-nominated and may have you laughing in recognition at what it’s like when a cat or baby turns your life upside-down.

Robert Alstead made the Vancouver documentary You Never Bike Alone.www.youneverbikealone.com. He writes at www.2020Vancouver.com and is blogging VIFF at www.iofilm.com

Evolve! It’s our only choice

EARTHFUTURE by Guy Dauncey

Some say we’re like a cancer, 

devouring the Earth; 
some say we’re like a rose-bud, 
awaiting glorious birth;
some say we’re all so stupid, 
we don’t deserve to live;
some say we’re holding heaven’s hopes, and all we need is love.

As I write this column, the Copenhagen climate talks are a week from completion. When you read this, they will be yesterday’s news.

Whatever the outcome, the larger story will remain that we are a species eating itself out of house and home with very little concern for the pollution, destruction and pain we are creating. And if this were not troubling enough, there are lots of babies in the pipeline, each as adorable as the next, waiting to grow our population by another two billion within 40 years.

Our whole human journey has led to this moment. From our amazing evolution in the depths of time to our first tentative steps on the plains of Africa, to the glories and craziness of a thousand civilizations, all that is past and all that remains is us, now, confronting our destiny.

There is a solid evolutionary argument to be made that every species acts this way – extending its range, pushing the limits of survivability until it receives feedback that persuades it to step back. Birds do it; bees do it; even white Siberian tigers do it.

The feedback was never comfortable or easy, however. It happened by way of mass starvation and death. The species that survived were those forced, by the sheer volume of their dying numbers, to evolve better claws, fins or brains. Those that did not became as extinct as the dodo.

As humans, however, we possess an enormous advantage: we do not need to die to evolve, except in as much as old people die, taking their old ideas and prejudices with them. We can use our intelligence to adapt, change direction and step away from the death-inhabited edge.

Seen in perspective, the task is quite straightforward. We have to switch to renewable energy sources; establish planetary control over the way we manage the oceans; start harvesting our wastes as a useful resource; switch to organic, mostly vegetarian food; establish responsible, ecological governance over Earth’s forests and ecosystems; and practise widespread birth-control.

In summary, it’s just a matter of going green, realigning our activities so that we jive with Nature and dance along with her steps, instead of behaving like klutzy oafs, stepping on everyone’s toes and generally destroying the harmony of Earth’s dances. The good news is that in every one of the new dances, we’ve already made a good start. Now, we need to learn to dance with love.

At the family level, I’m brewing a new approach that would encourage every family to hold an annual “Going Green Family Meeting,” ideally in late December or early January. Working from two detailed lists – one to reduce your carbon footprint and the other your wider ecological footprint – you would create a “Going Green Family Action Plan” for the year ahead. Each item (“Stop buying bottled water,” “Turn down the thermostat on your hot water tank”) would offer a choice of “this week,” “this month,” “this year,” or “a future year.” To get started, you’ll find good tips on the website for my new book, www.bit.ly/67DPzT. There are plenty of carbon calculators to track progress on the first list and I’m sure someone could create an equivalent ecological footprint calculator, measuring the impact of each tiny lifestyle change as we steer away from the death-inhabited cliff-edge.

After families, it’s not too difficult to imagine the same being done by every business, school and community group. Along the way, we’ll have to deal with those who think we’re entitled to take what we want from the Earth and dump our wastes wherever we like. Every generation has to find its way to create a better world.

Guy Dauncey is author of The Climate Challenge: 101 Solutions to Global Warming (www.theclimatechallenge.ca) and president of the BC Sustainable Energy Association (www.bcsea.org)

Canada must face climate crisis

SCIENCE MATTERS by David Suzuki with Faisal Moola

People who deny the reality of human-caused global warming are wetting their pants over the illegal theft and release of emails from scientists at the East Anglia Climate Research Unit. In their desperation, the deniers claim the emails point to a global conspiracy by the world’s scientists and government leaders to… well, it’s hard to say what they believe the conspiracy is about. A letter to a Vancouver newspaper some time ago indicates the way many of them think. The writer claimed that people working to address global warming are “ideological zealots pursuing a quasi-religious socialist agenda to command and control western economies.”

It would be funny if it didn’t echo the thinking of so many people – even some in influential positions in government and industry – and if the situation weren’t so critical.

Sadly, the emails don’t show that global warming is a grand hoax or conspiracy. They do nothing to diminish the decades of overwhelming scientific evidence that the Earth is not only warming largely because of emissions from burning fossil fuels, but that it’s worse than we thought. Recently, 26 scientists from Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, Canada, the US and Australia released a report showing that the impacts of global warming are occurring faster and are more widespread than other reports from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had projected.

The report, titled “The Copenhagen Diagnosis,” summarized the most recent research from around the world, which shows that Arctic sea ice is melting faster than we thought, that both Greenland and Antarctica are losing more ice than predicted and that sea levels are rising more quickly than anticipated. The scientists conclude that the Earth could reach several “tipping points” if we keep pumping emissions into the atmosphere at the same rate.

The report also quashes the myth of “global cooling” that has been “promoted by lobby groups and picked up in some media.” The report’s authors conclude that “even the highly ‘cherry-picked’ 11-year period starting with the warm 1998 and ending with the cold 2008 still shows a warming trend of 0.11 °C per decade.”

It’s astounding that those who deny that climate change exists or that it is human-caused, either out of self-interest or ignorance, are willing to see some grand conspiracy in a handful of stolen emails, but are unwilling to see the undeniably clear evidence of the impacts of climate change already occurring around the world.

As University of Victoria climate scientist Andrew Weaver notes, in abandoning the idea of reaching a binding agreement in Copenhagen, world leaders are essentially saying that they don’t believe they owe anything to our children and grandchildren.

Unfortunately, Canada has a poor record on climate change and international negotiations to address the problem. Our government argues that the economy takes precedence over the environment. It’s incredibly shortsighted to think that a healthy economy can be maintained when the health of the planet is failing. And it’s absurd to pin our economic hopes on extracting limited supplies of dirty fossil fuels in a world that is increasingly switching to cleaner forms of energy.

Our Prime Minister wasn’t even planning to attend the Copenhagen summit until US President Barack Obama announced he was going. Canadian citizens can take some credit for the Prime Minster’s about-face. He is said to have reconsidered in part because of a recent Angus Reid poll that indicated most Canadians wanted him to attend.

Beyond the poll, hundreds of thousands of Canadians have told the government that we must work toward an agreement that is fair, ambitious and binding. And 3,000 scientists recently sent an open letter urging the government “to negotiate an outcome that will rapidly and adequately address climate change.”

One of the strongest messages came from a coalition of representatives from the developing world – Commonwealth secretary-general Kamalesh Sharma, former UK international development secretary Clare Short, climate scientist Saleemul Huq and British environment and development groups. They argue that Canada should be suspended from the Commonwealth for ignoring the impact of climate change on the world’s poorest countries.

Learn more at www.davidsuzuki.org

Healing through shamanism

by Sonya Weir

In The Way of the Explorer, former Apollo 14 astronaut Dr. Edgar Mitchell writes about his epiphany in space when he realized the nature of universal connectedness: “The presence of divinity became almost palpable and I knew that life in the universe was not just an accident based on random processes… The knowledge came to me directly.”

Mitchell’s epiphany was so profound that, upon his return to Earth, he was compelled to leave the world of strictly fact-based science behind. While most of us will probably never travel to the Moon in our lifetime, we all have the capacity to develop the awareness that everything in the universe is interconnected and that life is not merely a series of arbitrary occurrences. We can all experience and create magic in our lives and we can do it with our feet firmly planted on the ground.

When we have the intent to explore the interconnection of all of life and embark on a journey to discover our own inner space and the world of alternate realities, expanded consciousness is the inevitable result. That heightened awareness, combined with a desire to help others to become more balanced and powerful in their lives, aptly describes the field of shamanic coaching – a field that is predicated on the belief that people have the capacity to change the circumstances of their lives and heal themselves.

I think back to when I was growing up in a Toronto suburb in the 1950s. For anyone with emotional problems, their only option was to see a psychiatrist who would inevitably prescribe a drug. If you were a Catholic woman with marital difficulties, you called your priest, who inevitably told you to stand by your man, no matter what the problem. And that extended to physical abuse. As a young girl, I saw this scenario played out over and over again in the adults in my world – this yielding to authority, to the so-called experts. And because support groups were still a long way off in the future, for the most part people kept their problems under wraps. It was very much a case of “Don’t air your dirty laundry in public.” There was also the fear that someone in authority could actually have you locked up so it was in people’s best interests to “appear” well adjusted and happy. That was the ethos of the suburbs in the ‘50s, but thankfully times have changed.

Most people are familiar with the term “wounded healer,” coined by the late Henri Nouwen. This spiritual writer used the term to describe how important it was for people working in a healing capacity to heal their own issues first. While this aspect of self-accountability was conspicuously absent in the experts who held sway with the adults in my past, it is one of the primary reasons that shamanic coaching is such a powerful agent of change: it is predicated on people being willing to accept responsibility for the circumstances of their lives and to then transform those circumstances, and that is empowering.

A shamanic coach commits to the exploration of their own inner darkness – the place of their unhealed projections and patterns. The place of unhealed pain. The place where they may still be casting blame on someone else for their life circumstances. The places where they are still a victim. In exploring our inner darkness, we discover that it is rich with information about how we can change and grow. It is a fascinating journey and the more we can transcend our own limiting patterns, the greater capacity we have to help empower others to make the leaps in their lives that will bring them more happiness. One essentially becomes the “wounded healer.”

Throughout the years I have studied shamanism, I have had many incredible experiences that I can only describe as magical. Over time, these experiences built upon each other and I saw the foundation of my life resting upon a framework that precluded any separation between mind, body and spirit. For me, that is the essence of shamanic coaching.

Sonya Weir is the coordinator of the Institute of Shamanic Medicine, which is now accepting applications for the Shamanic Coaching Certification Program in Vancouver, beginning fall 2010. Email info@shamanicmedicine.ca or call 1-877-329-8668. www.shamanicmedicine.ca

29th Annual Organic Conference

Agriculture’s brightest minds share best farming practices to protect the environment

We all have a shared goal of protecting the common environment. This includes the biodiversity of landscapes, climate, habitats, air and water. To this goal, in late January, hundreds of eco-minded individuals will flock to Guelph to tap the knowledge of agriculture’s best minds.

The 29th Annual Guelph Organic Conference has lined up dozens of speakers over four consecutive days. Topics of discussion

29th Annual Guelph Organic Conference, Expo & Tasting Fair

From its humble beginnings with a handful of attendees as an afternoon seminar in 1982, the most recent 2009 event attracted an estimated 1750+ farmers, distributors, retailers, advocates and students.

Conference general response line:
519-824-4120, ext 6205

cross the spectrum of our food system – farming as a career, the new Canadian Organic Standards, urban agriculture, genetic engineering and food policy. Introductory and advanced levels of eco-agriculture – soils, crops, weed and insect control, livestock management and direct marketing round out the programming.

Anne Freeman, Manager of the Dufferin Grove Organic Farmers’ Market and representative for the Greenbelt Farmers’ Market Network, will facilitate “The Farmers’ Market Forum: Challenges, Opportunities & Connections For Producers & Communities.”

When asked why she believes this to be a timely and important offering at the 2010 conference, Freeman replied, “Farmers’ markets play a key role in connecting urban and rural communities and contributing momentum to support sustainable food choices. Through the forum, we aim to discuss key features needed to make the markets engage a broader public and really work for producers.”

The speakers include successful farmers and educators on the cutting edge of progress in harmony with nature. Together, they represent hundreds of years of experiencing the very challenges you might be facing. Whether you farm 80 acres or grow a small garden in your backyard, you’ll find the Organic Conference to be a great value for your money and well worth your time.

With 30+ informative introductory and advanced workshops, 150+ trade show exhibitors and tasting fair on Saturday & Sunday, locally-sourced organic food, an inspirational keynote speaker and an interactive public forum, the GOC is considered one of the foremost educational and networking events in the organic community.

Native artist makes it real

by Jadeon Rathgeber



At age 16, I started dealing drugs and running with gangs. My very first night I made $1,800 profit and thought, “I’m making more than a doctor and a lawyer.” So much money went through my hands over these years, all squandered and wasted. My mom continuously told me that nothing would come of these ways, and she was right. After being stabbed five times, shot and spending nearly five years in the prison system – with the rest of my adult life on parole – December 11, 2009 marked an end to my life of being under the thumb of the Canadian justice system. Seventeen years!

INDN Arts ‘N Action 
January 7-30

Make it Real
January 19-30

An art show presented by indigenous artists Jadeon Rathgeber, Pat Bruderer and family. This event includes panel discussions, carvings, Birch Bark Biting artwork, indigenous-inspired fashion and more. At Interurban: Gallery & Community Art Space, 1 East Hastings Street, Vancouver.

My name is Jadeon Rathgeber. I was born and raised in a small northern Manitoba town and I am of mixed Cree and German descent. I am now the father of a beautiful little girl named Desiree.

Four years ago, I went to my first Native American Church meeting. I reunited with a carver who knew my mother, Pat Bruderer, Half Moon Woman, who is one of the last practitioners of the ancient First Nations art of Birch Bark Biting. His name is Whey-hey-ukt-chuk. He is hereditary and he asked me to start carving with him, saying it was in my blood. Since then, carving, culture and my family have been my passion. It saved my life.

I also began realizing how much trouble our cultures and the environment are in, and how a high percentage of people don’t realize how bad it really is.

So I began a great new mission in life. I wanted to be an advocate for the original people of North America and the world. I wanted to help the youth – by my own story – to make different choices. I wanted to help my family and to heal and repair the damage I had caused. Everybody had written me off. Even now, I know that my Grandma, sisters and other relatives view me with mistrust. It is a long road out.

The reality and consequence of my choices, however, were still playing out.

At the intake assessment for this last sentence I just finished, I was honest and informed the officer that I had reconnected to my indigenous roots and expressed the positive changes happening to me. I was so inspired and was having beautiful and grand visions of what I could do. I was going to be a great carver. I was going to help my family and put my mom’s artwork on the map, helping her out of poverty. I was going to help youth, create art camps, set up a foundation and tour the Birch Bark Bitings in museums and in the really good galleries, sharing the teachings and the stories. I had just met my daughter for the first time at seven-months-old and I wanted to be a real father and raise her well. I wanted to be able to sit with my Grandma and have her feel good about me.

The officer discussed the situation with another lady at Correction Services Canada and they decided I’m having delusional thoughts and creating goals way too big for reality and determined that I needed a psychiatric assessment. To my utter horror, they added time to my mandatory incarceration. An elder told me later that the CSC criterion designates that if you are First Nations you are a higher risk to re-offend. You are treated differently. More programming is placed upon us. At least, I can be so deeply grateful to the elders and brothers that worked so hard to ensure that my time was immersed in spirituality and in building pride and esteem. I was very fortunate to be able to continue carving in prison. The elders and some lifers were very good and helpful to me. I went to over 50 strong sweats while I was in there, getting deeper into my heart and my truth and learning countless important teachings.

During this lengthened time, however, I was almost killed in prison several times. One time, I thought the guy broke my back with a steel pipe wood clamp. I almost lost my life half a dozen times during this sentence and I realized, just as with the lifestyle that got me there, it could happen just like that.

But I’ve also come to realize that, for First Nations people, it is most often like that every day anyway. Part of what got me into the criminal lifestyle was that in the remote reality of most indigenous people’s lives, there is not much left, not much else. This is something that upsets me so much with how Canada portrays how great things are, the wonderful partnership, and even so many people who think they are helping, but do it from this place of looking down their nose and not coming to grips with how this all got so messed up.

The fish are gone, the Caribou, the trap line – now the ice is melting and the polar bears are dying and eating their young. Bees are disappearing. Well, so are we, but it hasn’t quite reached us in the food chain yet. But it has on the reserve.

Where my sisters were raised on the Moose Lake reservation in Northern Manitoba, babies are now born addicted, drinking by age five, sniffing gas or glue to stem the hunger pains by eight or nine and now crack is everywhere before you are even a teen. So then enter the predators, abusers and pushers. Many of my sister’s friends are dead or addicted or abused and have as many as five kids by the time they’re 19-years-old. My sister Sheena is working on a documentary about it seen through her 19 year-old eyes.

And so, what has come of my dreams that needed a psychiatric assessment?

I finally got out on parole and got straight to my new life and my vision. It has been crazy. I have met so many people. I walked, hitchhiked and bussed carrying all this art and stuff. I wore out shoes while dripping sweat in the summer heat, meeting, talking about my mom and the art. And, of course, carving.

Everything is coming along. Some museums are interested in sponsoring a tour. My mom’s art is now at the Bill Reid Gallery (639 Hornby Street,Vancouver).

My mom and my relatives and I are having an art show in January, which we are calling Make it Real. It is part of INDN Arts ‘N Action at the Interurban Art Gallery in the Vancouver Downtown Eastside at 1 East Hastings Street, which is the transition point from wealth and power to one of the poorest neighbourhoods in North America. It’s great for the art show because the true reality is right outside the door and there are people from all over the globe trying to survive on that street.

My mom will be showcasing her ancient and threatened artwork and doing demonstrations. My carvings will be there, as well as some collaborative pieces with other artists and ones my mom and I have done together with the Birch Bark Biting put into carving designs. Also, my mom and aunties’ high-end, indigenous inspired fashions designs will be there, and lots more from my family.

In the evenings, we will have several presentations and conversations on many issues focusing on the difference between the fake and the real covering art, literature and history, governments and culture and survival. It is happening right before the Olympics and even this is an example of misrepresentation for indigenous peoples. I found out that everyone putting on a show there has to sign a contract saying they will not say anything negative about the government, the committee or the corporate sponsors so the aboriginals putting on a show there are being used to make it look like Canada and First Nations people are doing really great with each other, and it just is not true.

Also, my family lineage happens to be part of the stories of Farley Mowat. It was my family that took him in, guided him and then had our stories told and twisted to create Farley’s fame. It caused a lot of hurt and damage to us and many people and it has never been resolved. In the north, he is often called Hardly Knows-it. We will be discussing how the portrayal of indigenous people is so often distorted in literature and history. The real people of the deer will be there and we can all talk about it together. Maybe Farley Mowat will come and it can be a really good and healing opportunity.

An elder told me you can’t go to university to learn your life experiences and you didn’t survive being stabbed five times and shot for nothing; your purpose in life is now to help other people with the wisdom you have from living through that.

Come and see if I am delusional. Meet my family and see our art. Join in the discussions; many traditional and hereditary people will be there from here and from where my family comes from. Let us see if things can really change. If we can change ourselves, we can change everything. We can Make it Real! Who knows, my grandmother might even be there.