Grizzlies – Human behaviour to bear in mind

by Howard Pattinson

There is something magical in observing bears in the wild, but the question is how should we behave in bear country? Ideally, we want to be able to enjoy the wilderness and allow the bears to thrive in their habitat. If you come across a coastal grizzly bear, be aware that its evolution will have an affect on how it reacts to you.

Grizzly bears evolved on the open steppes of the northern plains where hiding was not an option so their defence is usually to go on the offensive. A female grizzly will charge you to chase you away from her cubs or food source. Most of the time, it’s only a bluff charge and she will turn away once she thinks you are no longer a threat. Do not shout or wave your arms the way you would if you had an interaction with a coastal black bear. Coastal black bears evolved in forested areas so they tend to run, climb a tree or hide. Most coastal black bears are black with little white bow ties. Coastal grizzly bears are brown, blond, dark brown or black and they’re bigger, with a large hump of muscle between the shoulders.

A grizzly bear may walk towards you with a grizzly swagger to assert dominance or simply because it is curious. If possible, back up. If you are in a boat, move your vessel away. Be aware that your lunch can be just as enticing to a bear as it is to you. I have opened a sockeye sandwich about a mile from a grizzly bear and with its nose turned into the wind, it immediately started walking towards us, at which point we started the boat motor, put the food back in the cooler and quickly got out of there. You also have to be careful to keep garbage aboard the boat. Bears foraging along the beach at low tide for natural seafood will come across human garbage and learn to like it; they’ll then seek out other sources of human food from logging camps and summer homes. Human food-conditioned bears are put down by the BC Conservation Service. Black bears conditioned to human food are also attracted to bird feeders in people’s yards; you might ask yourself if it is really necessary to feed birds in the summer when there is a lot of wild food available.

On the move

Grizzly bears hibernate high in the mountains above the tree line. As the sun strengthens and the snow begins to melt, a female grizzly bear breaks through the protective layer of snow to greet the spring. She is not alone this year; three small cubs peek out into a bright strange world. Born in the dark den to a sleeping mother, these cubs – the size of a pound of butter – begin to nurse on their mother’s rich milk, gaining weight and growing bigger every day. Emergence from the den signals the beginning of the cub’s lessons in survival. Female grizzly bears have many lessons to teach their young and the mother will keep them close for three winters before they are ready to go off on their own.

Initially, the young family stays close to the winter den until the cubs learn to scramble over logs, along rocky, steep slopes and through the dense underbrush. Slowly, the mother leads her cubs down to the low tide beaches of Knight Inlet. On these rocky beaches, she finds protein that will provide the calories required to replace the almost 40 percent loss of body weight that occurred over the winter. She will teach her young to roll rocks to find tasty blennies, eels, crabs and isopods that have been stranded as the tide recedes. By the middle of summer, the cubs will be rolling their own rocks, which are about half their size, just like mom does.

Spring is not a safe time for young grizzly bears as male grizzlies are roaming the beaches and estuaries in search of food and a mate. Males will kill the cubs to force the females back into heat. This mom and cubs stay away from the highly productive estuaries and remain hidden near an old avalanche chute where she gets by on skunk cabbage and low tide beach seafood. She will only move into the estuary when she is certain the males have finished mating and moved into the high country to gorge on alpine berries. As the salmon berries ripen in mid June, she spends more time in the berry patches. On a lucky day, when a sharp eyed bald eagle snatches an early salmon out of the creek and rips at the wriggling fish, mother’s nose goes up and she trots along the beach. Coming suddenly over a rock bluff, she startles the eagle into flight. This grizzly family enjoys its first salmon meal of the season.

People have lived with bears on the BC coast for thousands of years. They are an important part of our wilderness and a symbol of strength, power and intelligence. When we remember a few simple rules, we may not only enjoy bears in the wild, but we can also help them stay wild.

Howard Pattinson is the owner of Tide Rip Grizzly Tours in Telegraph Cove, BC. As a grizzly tour guide, he is very familiar with bear behaviour in the wild.

You and your words

by Dr. Henry Cloud

Have you ever heard yourself say, “Whatever possessed me to say yes to this in the first place? Why didn’t I just say no?” Or, after negotiating a deal, have you ever thought, “Why didn’t I ask for –––––––? I could kick myself!” If you have, that is pretty normal or at least common. However, if it happens often, it is also a problem. It reveals that sometimes you and your words are not on the same page. You desire one outcome, but your words take you to a different one.

Dr. Henry Cloud
Dr. Henry Cloud (photo by Russell Baer Photography)

So we are going to look at the words that have to do with why you find yourself in certain situations more than you might think. We are going to examine your relationship to some key words, including how you feel about them and how free you are to use them, or not. Before we dive into looking at specific words and phrases, it’s important to understand how certain words become embedded, or internalized, in our lives.

Internalizations and pattern

One would think that when you say yes or no to something, your answer is based on the merits of what you want to choose. When you want to grant a request, buy a product, agree to a price, take an assignment or go to lunch with someone, you say yes. If not, you say no. But, in reality, that is not what always happens. Sometimes, you may be on autopilot and have less choice in your response than you may think. Think about people you know or even yourself. Have you noticed that there are people who routinely find themselves in some situation they do not want to be in? Inevitably, they land in some activity, relationship, scheduling conflict or problem they did not want. The reason is not that they failed to just say no once or twice. They basically never say no. Their choices are rarely about what they want or don’t want in a particular situation, but usually about their relationship with the word “no” itself. They are conflicted about the word at a very deep level. They reach down there in hopes of finding “no,” but it eludes them.

Or think of the person on your team you know you cannot send out to do that negotiation. When you need someone who can go into a meeting, ask for the moon, and expect to get it, this is the last person you’d call on. They just are the kind of people who never ask for what they want. For some reason, they can’t pull the trigger. As a result, they rarely get out of life what they desire, and oftentimes they don’t even get what they need. They get only what comes their way and nothing more. Then you know other people who go into a meeting, ask for the moon, and get it. You exclaim, “How did you get them to agree to that?” And they answer, “I just asked for it, and they said fine.”

The difference is not that one person wants or needs the outcome any more or less than the other. In fact, often the person who needs something the most is the one who finds it most difficult to ask. The real difference is that some people have a longstanding relationship with certain words that renders saying them virtually impossible. The result of not saying those words when we need to, or saying them when we don’t, is that our lives become fragmented and scattered – a far cry from the integrated one life we all want. Then we are truly out of control. I know one CEO of a tech company who says “I will” almost as if it were part of his breathing. When something needs to be done, he is ever ready and just says, “Sure, I’ll do that.” He doesn’t even think about it, until one of two things happens – either he finds himself way overcommitted and doesn’t know how it happened or someone is frustrated at his lack of follow-through.

Take the words “I think,” for example. I was working with a team of VPs, helping them to develop a team dynamic that was safer and more creative and risk taking. One of the VPs, Dennis, was particularly gifted, but he seemed to keep his ideas to himself in meetings, especially when Steve, the president, was in the room. I knew a lot about the deals they were working on and I was aware that there were a lot of times that Dennis knew more about them than the president. Yet he never spoke up to say what he thought.

I brought it up with the two of them together. I asked Dennis why there were times when he didn’t say what he was thinking. I knew it was safe to do that with me in the room, as Steve had brought me in to develop that kind of team. If the president had a problem with others speaking their minds, he would be indicting himself and I wanted that to happen with me there, not some other time when he would not be forced to see that he was the problem.

When I asked Dennis why he never spoke up, he froze and instantly, without realizing it, looked at Steve. “Why are you looking at him?” I asked. “Well, uh, I don’t know. I was just thinking,” he said. “Let me guess,” I said. “The reason you don’t say what you are thinking sometimes is that you are not sure how it is going to go down with Steve if you disagree with him. Is that right?” I asked. “Well, maybe. I mean, he is the president of the company. It’s his place to do what he wants,” he said. I turned to the president and asked, “Steve, is that what you pay him for? To just nod at whatever you think? Or do you want to know things that you might disagree with?” “Of course I want to know,” he said to Dennis. “Why do you think I brought you on? You have great experience in these areas that I know little about, and I need you to speak up. I am not going to shoot you.”

From there, we got into a great discussion and found out some important things. One was that Steve really did want to know when others disagreed, but he sometimes was unaware of how the ways he pushed back were intimidating to others. Steve had to recognize that while as a leader he desired honesty from his people, some of his behaviors made it difficult for them to be honest with him – the classic “say-do” gap.

We learned something else that was huge for Dennis and for the team. He realized that his fear of speaking his mind did not begin with Steve. Dennis had grown up with a military father who did not like dissenting voices in the house and ran the family like a combat platoon, handing out orders that were not to be questioned. Early on, Dennis learned to keep his thoughts to himself around authority figures. He developed a conflicted relationship with the words “I think.” In the face of an authority figure, he kept those words to himself and just nodded. It was automatic response. He talked about this in one team meeting and it was big for him.

This is not to say that there are no situations in which it would be wise to keep one’s mouth shut. In fact, that is yet another reason why this issue is so important. In contrast to Dennis, there are others who were not compliant to an authoritarian parent, and, instead, felt like they had to speak up to them no matter what the consequences. They could not keep quiet, no matter how much trouble it got them into. This is just as much an autopilot behavior as the opposite problem and both represent a loss of freedom.

If you had bad experiences when you spoke your mind, you developed a pattern of keeping silent rather than speaking up. If dissenting opinions resulted in a slap to the face or a loss of affection, you kept silent. And you still do – without thinking. It is now automatic. But, if speaking up were rewarded, then you do it well now, too. It all depends on your past experience, until you have new experiences that change the pattern.

I once worked with a leader who found himself granting more and more policy exceptions than he felt comfortable with to one of his direct reports. This employee always seemed to have special circumstances or a reason he felt he needed to be given more flexibility than company policy allowed. When I challenged the leader to look at it, he realized something. Although what he was doing did not make business sense, he was doing what he had gotten used to doing with a similar kind of person in his family – a brother who always seemed to need some kind of special treatment. Agreeing to requests for special treatment was automatic. So the thought of saying no never even occurred to him. He was just programmed that way.

Another executive I worked with had no difficulty asking for what she wanted for her company in negotiating contracts, making sales and doing their business. For her, the words “I want,” when speaking on behalf of the company, came freely and easily. But trying to utter those same words for herself was an entirely different matter. She was not nearly as free to say “I want” to her boss when negotiating her own contract or to her team when expressing her preferences about which part of the project she wanted to do.

When I brought up the discrepancy to her, it blindsided her.

She had grown up in a family where serving and giving were very high values, which is obviously good. It trained her to stand up for people, to ask on behalf of others and to use her power to get for others what they could not get for themselves. It had a moral high ground. But that same environment also taught her that wanting something for oneself is “selfish, prideful and self-centered.” She learned early that selfishness was one of the greatest of evils. But, as it was defined for her, it included not only the “I want it all for me” kind of selfishness we all deplore, but also the idea that wanting anything for yourself is bad. So her relationship with the words “I want” was one that prompted an internal tongue lashing if she ever got close to uttering them. She felt guilty for wanting such a thing and felt she should be thinking about others and not herself. Understandably, she developed a pattern of not asking for things for herself.

The takeaway here is twofold. First, you may have a pattern with certain words that you have never noticed and that pattern is the reason you find yourself in unwanted situations. Second, that pattern was learned in experiences that have been engraved in you and have made their mark. They are now a part of the way you automatically operate. It is time to become aware of your autopilot behaviors and get your hands back on the wheel of your words and your choices. You would do well to see where you learned not to say what you want or think or will or won’t do. There were probably good reasons you did that, but it is time to realize that those days are over and what might have served you well then is not helping you now.

From the book The One-Life Solution: Reclaim Your Personal Life While Achieving Greater Professional Success by Dr. Henry Cloud. Copyright © 2008 by Dr. Henry Cloud. Reprinted by arrangement with HarperBusiness, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. The One-Life Solution is available through

TV vs. the internet


Whose side are you on?

It’s a little known fact that television services go through the same wires as internet services. This means that the practice of throttling or slowing access to internet services under the auspices of congestion is questionable, to say the least. After all, telecom companies always seem to have enough money to invest in their TV services, ensuring they operate without slow-downs. Yet people rarely question whether Canada’s drop in key broadband metrics, such as speed and cost, compared to other OECD nations might have something to do with a conflict of interest.

Exhibits 1, 2 and 3 below provide evidence that telecom companies are giving their TV services preferential treatment over the internet:

Exhibit 1: Rogers caps the internet

In July, just days after online video service Netflix announced its expansion into Canada, Rogers Communications announced it would increase the usage limits on some of its plans. The move appears to have been a defensive measure, meant to protect the company’s own video services from encroachment by Netflix.

Rogers Communications is Canada’s biggest cable television provider and it operates a video streaming service, similar to Netflix, called On Demand Online. Rogers Video On Demand and Pay Per View offerings, which reach users via their televisions, will not be affected by the aforementioned caps even though Rogers customers receive both internet and television service through the same cables.

Some have argued that the caps are not discriminatory if they apply to Rogers online services as well as Netflix. What these commentators fail to realize is that by adding limits to the internet while keeping TV costs/services constant, Rogers discriminates against both the public internet and those who use it to deliver competing services.

Exhibit 2: Bell’s freak-out

On August 30, the CRTC ruled that major telecom companies must allow their independent internet service competitors to obtain access to the same speeds of broadband as those they offer to their own customers. The incumbent telecom companies are reportedly concerned, not just because of fear of increased competition, but also because this will enable independent ISPs to provide fast enough service to facilitate open access to video services like Netflix.

In short, the big ISPs are now less able to use download caps or price increases to effectively discriminate against competing online video services. Independent ISPs like TekSavvy, now in a better position to compete in the market, seem happy to focus on fast and open internet access, rather than on content distribution. Bell is so threatened that it is calling for cabinet to overturn the landmark CRTC decision.

Exhibit 3: telecoms buying content

On September 10, Bell Canada Enterprises (BCE) Inc., already Canada’s largest communications company, announced its plan to acquire 100 percent of CTV, the nation’s leading broadcaster. Earlier this year, Shaw also announced its intention to purchase Global TV’s assets previously owned by the now defunct CanWest. Rogers and Quebecor (owner of Videotron) already own significant media content assets. If Shaw and Bell’s purchases go through, this will mean telecom companies will own nearly all of Canada’s private broadcasters and that Telus will be the only major ISP that isn’t heavily invested in media content. Allowing internet service providers to own major content assets creates an economic incentive for them to invest in a controlled content distribution infrastructure, whether that is controlled wireless services or a closed anti-competitive version of the wired internet.

The future of communication

If the next generation of access points, found in set-top boxes and wireless devices, restricts the open internet, there will be a comparable restriction in the open collaboration, participation, expression and empowerment that are currently enabled by the open internet. These are the very things that have helped strip away our differences and that allow us to transcend space, time and social strata to more easily connect with each other. These are the things that we should be willing and ready to grow, defend and fight for.

Steve Anderson is the national coordinator for the Campaign for Democratic Media. He has written for The Tyee, Toronto Star, Epoch Times andAdbusters.

Sprout your way to health

NUTRISPEAK by Vesanto Melina

Mung beans and lentils are seeds with the potential and life force to grow into large, strong plants. For this purpose, these little embryos contain a rich store of vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats and carbohydrates, all ready and waiting for the right conditions of heat, moisture and oxygen to be present in order to grow. As soon as seeds germinate, chemical changes occur, including some that provide us with health benefits.

For example, when mung beans and lentils are sprouted the following changes occur:

  • Protein is created; protein quality improves – with increased amounts of essential amino acids – and the digestibility of the protein present increases.
  • Trypsin inhibitors (anti-nutrients which reduce protein digestibility) are destroyed during germination of mung beans and lentils.
  • Starch is converted to the more easily assimilated simple sugars; glucose and fructose increase tenfold when mung beans are sprouted.
  • Sprouting significantly increases the content of enzymes, including those that break down or begin the digestion of protein and starch.
  • The carbohydrates that can produce gas (flatulence) largely disappear when mung beans are sprouted.
  • Sprouting stimulates the production of quantities of antioxidants that protect us against disease.
  • The vitamin C content of the original legume increases 17 times when lentils are sprouted and eight times when mung beans are sprouted.
  • The riboflavin content of mung bean triples and in lentils it increases by 50 percent during germination. The content of other B vitamins also increases.
  • Phytate-mineral complexes are broken down during sprouting, greatly increasing mineral availability.
  • The small amounts of hemagglutinins present in raw lentils and mung beans are destroyed by germination, making these raw sprouts safe. Most legumes contain too much of these illness-producing proteins to be eaten in a raw form although hemagglutinins are completely destroyed by cooking. Thus, although sprouted mung beans and lentils are safe, other legumes should be eaten in the cooked form only.

If we take mung beans, lentils and other sproutable seeds along when we are sailing far from ports or when camping in remote areas, we can have fresh sprout salads despite limited access to markets selling fresh produce. During winter months when one’s garden is not productive, sprouts can provide us with fresh food and an excellent source of vitamin C.

Easy sprouts
1/4 cup (60 ml) dried mung beans or 1/2 cup (125 ml) dried lentils
2 cups (500 ml) water
(Makes 3 to 4 cups sprouts)
Put beans or lentils in a one-litre sprouting jar and add water. Put a mesh screen or sprouting lid on the jar and let stand at room temperature for 12-24 hours. Drain and rinse thoroughly with cool water, then drain again. Place jar, with screen, upside-down at a 450 angle over a saucer or dish rack so water may run off. Cover jar with a towel or place it away from light so sprouts can grow in the dark. Rinse and drain two or three times a day for three to five days, until a short tail is visible. Store the sprouts in a sealed container in the fridge for up to one week.

The equipment needed to grow sprouts is simple and economical. A one-quart (1 L) canning (mason) jar is sufficient for kitchen sprouting. A sprouting lid or mesh screen is needed for the top, to allow rinse water to flow in and out while keeping the sprouts in the jar. Plastic sprouting lids can be purchased at natural food stores for this purpose or you can put a piece of mesh screen or cotton cheesecloth across the mouth of the jar and hold it in place with a rubber band. A dish rack is helpful, although not essential, for holding the jar at an angle to completely drain the water after rinsing.

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

Perfect propagation

ON THE GARDEN PATH by Carolyn Herriot

It is surprisingly easy to get tip cuttings of soft fruits such as blueberries, gooseberries, figs, kiwis and currants to take root. Following the few simple techniques outlined below will result in enough berry bushes to grow your own ‘berry walk’ with enough leftover plants to share with friends and neighbours.

Fill 1/2-gallon (2-L) square pots with propagation mix and moisten well. Using a dibber (chopstick), insert nine cuttings into each pot, spaced as three rows of three. In winter, providing bottom heat to cuttings, using a heat pad or heater cable, achieves 85percent rooting compared to 55 percent without heat. When cuttings grow leaves, you know they have taken root.

plant propagation
Rooted cuttings of blackcurrants,Ribes.

Propagation mix for softwood cuttings

It needs to be sterilized, free draining and moisture retentive.

Mix equal parts by volume: coarse washed sand, perlite and peat.

Optional: add granular rock phosphate to aid rooting.

Cuttings should be positioned out of direct sunlight because until they form roots, they are liable to wilt. Water evaporates from leaves, but there is no uptake from roots to make good the loss. Create a humid atmosphere – a propagation unit with misting is ideal – or cover cuttings with plastic bags.

High levels of filtered light are essential because photosynthesis is necessary for cuttings to grow and produce roots. Try to maintain an even temperature – around 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius). Check cuttings daily; any attempt at flowering should be nipped in the bud by removing the flowers.

Willow water
For rooting hormone, I use willow water, which contains salicylic acid, a natural rooting agent. I simply soak the cuttings overnight in willow water. They can go in the water at the same time the willow is soaking.
1. Choose sections of young willow the diameter of a fat pencil.
2. Strip off leaves, leaving only twigs.
3. Chop into 2-inch lengths (5cm) and soak for 24 hours.
4. Strain off the willow sections; the water will keep for 7 days.
5. Soak cuttings for up to 24 hours before placing in the propagation mix.
6. Optional: water the cuttings in with the willow water.

Once rooted, I pot cuttings into their own pots, using screened compost as a growing medium. Any well drained medium will do as long as it has added nutrients. If not, stimulate growth by feeding with liquid fish fertilizer one week and liquid seaweed the next.

Taking a tip cutting

Use a clean sharp knife to prepare cuttings. Choose vigorous and healthy sections of stem. The length of cuttings varies – generally no more than 6 inches long (15 cm). Cuttings must possess at least two nodes (leaf-joints). Trim just below a node, ensuring that the growing tip is upright. Cuttings should be green/yellow, but not hardened into woody tissue. Anything with flowers or buds is best avoided. Take cuttings on wet days when plants are charged with water. Keep them damp and sealed in a plastic bag until ready to insert. Prepare propagation mix. Insert the cutting into propagation mix so leaves remain above. Water-in well.

Carolyn’s new book The Zero Mile Diet – A Year-round Guide to Growing Great Organic Food is now available (Harbour Publishing)

We can change our thinking

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young

It’s much too easy to slip from “we’re pretty good” to “there’s something wrong with you,” which is the root of racism… 


I had hoped by the time we reached the 21st century, racism and discrimination might have been a thing of the past. With the terrorist attacks of 2001 and subsequent incidents, there appear to be growing pockets of negative opinion against Muslims, as though all Muslims were terrorists. This is ridiculous, of course, but discrimination is not rational.

We can see the ego aspect of mankind operating throughout history. Ego is about fulfilling its own need without any regard for the impact on others. It is about polarity, good-guys/bad-guys, right/wrong, us/them. It is about our way is the right way and yours is wrong. It is about “You should be like us.”

Horrible things have been done to individuals and cultures because a more powerful group chose to impose its ways upon others. Sometimes, it may have been well intentioned, if misguided, but at other times it was simply about domination and control.

If we stop to think about the formation of our planet and how life evolved, it is pretty amazing. Many things seem to be designed to work together, from the moon and the tides to pollination by insects. Humans figured out how to survive in myriad environments, including hot, dry desert areas and the high arctic. Their survival necessitated working together, cooperating and looking out for one another.

Animals evolved at the same time and not having egos they have coexisted fairly peacefully (except when hungry). No animal species has tried to dominate or change another. It seems we humans could have done this too, but we have egos.

Ego thinking has created a lot of negativity in our evolving process. It is what makes us fight, compete, desire to dominate and believe we are somehow superior to others. Are we doomed to keep repeating the old ways because we have egos?

Humans have also been gifted with intelligence. Certainly, a big part of our evolution has been physical and in our relationship to the physical world. We also have the ability to make the choice to evolve our consciousness. This means we can change the way we think and how we relate to each other and our world.

We have the capacity for wisdom. When I use the word wisdom, I refer to the higher self to which we all have access. It is that part of us that can transcend or see beyond the immediate situation and can think in terms of the highest good of all involved. It is free of ego and ego needs and tunes into that place where we all are one.

Thinking this way means we need to detach for the moment from our own beliefs and perspectives, realizing we could just as easily have been born anywhere on this planet. We could have become the starving child or even the terrorist.

We are all part of the human family, and yes, many aspects are dysfunctional. However, if we raise the level of our own consciousness, practise loving kindness in all we say and do, validate and honour others, recognizing everyone’s right to be here, we tip the scales just a little on the side of wisdom and integrity.

This will raise the consciousness of those around us. Soon enough, a few more people will choose conscious evolution, and then a few more, and a few more. Yes, it will take millions and millions of us to make a difference on the world scale. However, the words and actions of only one of us can make a huge difference to those in our world.

Gwen Randall-Young is a psychotherapist in private practise 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 See display ad this issue.

Windfall examines disturbing attitudes


One of the less cut-and-dry eco docs at VIFF this year is Windfall (October 10, 13) a relentless attack on wind energy seen through the prism of a small town in upstate New York where industrial wind energy became a divisive local issue. It raises important issues about just how “green” large wind turbines are and looks at the process of introducing wind farms: the US subsidies system, we are told, is set up in such a way that local communities receive a miniscule percentage of revenue from wind farms. Yet people living near wind turbines say the shadows and noise affect their health. The big issue is one of aesthetics and, ergo, real estate values. People don’t want them in their backyard. To be honest, I found this documentary infuriating at times. I’d have preferred fewer townsfolk talking about how unsightly, noisy and unnatural these 400-foot wind turbine “monstrosities” are and a more balanced look at the ecological cost compared to other forms of electricity to really convince me that the wind energy industry is the malignant force the filmmakers want me to believe it to be.

Russian drama My Joy (Park Cinema, 3, 4) is perhaps the most grimly ironic title in the festival program. A young truck driver takes a tortuous shortcut through a rural backwater and his life takes a turn for the worse. The everyman, lead character, Georgi, is physically and psychological battered down by a series of humiliating and shocking incidents – particularly at the hands of soldiers and policemen. Spanning both a contemporary and post-Second World War time frame, the film meanders here and there, inevitably descending into a colder, darker place. It’s effective – heart-wrenchingly so on occasion – but “joy” is in short supply here.

Reverse (Empire Granville 1, 8) from Poland, largely set in a black-and-white, post-War Warsaw, is similarly dark in tone, although it is spiked with black comedy, particularly some memorable elements of extreme farce. When mousey poetry editor Sabina brings a debonair man back to the small apartment where she lives with family, her mother and bedridden grandmother are overjoyed for the shy, sensitive 30-year-old spinster. But this is Stalinist Poland and when secrets ‘out,’ the results can be calamitous. While the uneven story veers into the absurd – particularly in its depiction of Sabina’s admirers – it retains credibility and force thanks to the strong character portraits provided by the three central female characters.

On a very different tack, local adventurer and independent filmmaker Frank Wolf will be presenting Mammalian, a documentary about his epic canoe trip with buddy and fellow Vancouverite Taku Hokoyama. (Empire Granville 6, 11; Pacific Cinematheque, 13). The idea behind the 2,000-kilometre journey from Yellowknife to Rankin Inlet was to share insights into this expansive northerly wilderness, its indigenous people and wildlife. There’s little time to address issues of climate change while portaging through thick bush and being constantly nibbled by flies, but you get a good sense of the ruggedness of the land. The two guys are a fun team to tag along with and prove that you have to be slightly nuts to make this kind of trip with those kinds of flies. (Note: Mammalian plays with Cry Rock.)

VIFF closes on October 14 with The Illusionist, a sweet and lovely looking animation from the creator of The Triplets of Belleville. It’s currently scheduled for a Christmas Day release so more about it later. In the meantime, if you can get tickets, I strongly recommend it.

Robert Alstead made the Vancouver documentary You Never Bike He writes at

Old fables even more relevant

SCIENCE MATTERS by David Suzuki with Faisal Moola

When wading through the words of pundits and the babble of political posturing, I can’t help but think of some of the simple truths we learned as children. Remember those stories from Aesop, Hans Christian Andersen and the Grimm brothers that enthralled us while imparting powerful messages? Two childhood fables seem particularly important today.

Once upon a time, a couple owned a goose that laid a golden egg every day. They became very rich, but were not content with a single egg a day. In their greed, they killed the goose to get at the eggs inside. Of course, they found the goose had guts like any other goose and they ended up with nothing. I thought of that story while working on a Nature of Things program on the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. In the 1980s, Brazil’s government encouraged people to move to the Amazon to make a living or a fortune. “Land without people for people without land” was how the government promoted it.

So one of the…irreplaceable ecosystems on the planet has been logged, flooded, mined and burned for decades as Brazilians seek their fabled El Dorado, the city of gold. But as in the fairy tale about the goose, El Dorado is the forest, not the resources being exploited by destroying it.

Many see the destructive activities in South America as a response to poverty. If that’s true, what’s our excuse? In North America, we have demolished the bulk of our original forests through the unsustainable practice of clear-cut logging. Across the country, one logging community after another has gone from boom to bust as forests have been cut down.

Over and over, we find ourselves rushing to get more eggs. In doing so, we end up losing the goose. We do it in agriculture as we use up the topsoil created over millennia; we do it in fisheries as our increasing technological power allows us to catch more fish faster; and we do it in northern Alberta as we tear up boreal ecosystems, pollute the water and inject massive amounts of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, all to get more of those eggs. And damn the goose.

I thought of another children’s tale while listening to CBC’s Peter Mansbridge interviewing Prime Minister Stephen Harper earlier this year. The prime minister claimed Canadians were only concerned about the economy and that Canada’s possible involvement with torture in Afghanistan was not a serious concern. Mr. Harper also ignored the massive public demand for leadership on climate change that preceded Copenhagen. The tale that comes to mind is the story of the emperor who wore no clothes.

Long ago, a vain emperor was overly concerned about his appearance. Two crafty weavers promised to make him a fine outfit from material that could not be seen by those who were stupid or unfit for their position. When the weavers pretended to display samples, the emperor couldn’t admit he was unable to see them for that would be an admission of incompetence or stupidity. His courtiers and ministers were likewise unable to admit they saw nothing. Putting on the imaginary clothes, the emperor paraded outside so the public could admire him and his new attire. Everyone in the crowd, enthralled by the status of the king and bowed by their desire to be seen as clever and fashionable, remained silent. Only a child, innocent of the claims of the weavers, pointed out the obvious: “The emperor has no clothes.”

We are living in a time when ecological degradation is occurring everywhere. BC’s northern forests have turned red, victims of mountain pine beetles no longer killed by winters that have become too warm. Farmers know harvest time is later. Birders report birds migrating north two weeks earlier and departing weeks later than normal. Competitive skiers tell us European meets are being cancelled for lack of snow. Glaciers are receding. Arctic ice is melting… the list is long. But where the emperor and his sycophantic subjects were blinded by vanity, we are prevented from seeing by the cloaks of economics and politics.

Let’s throw off the blinders and see the world as any child can.

Learn more at

NEWSBYTES – Join the “Paddle for Wild Salmon” Get industrial fish farms out of BC waters October 20-25


Since salmon farms took the Sechelt area by storm 30 years ago, residents, First Nations, scientists, businesspeople, organizations and even government employees have tried to minimize the impact of this industry, but to no avail. Salmon farms crowd animals and they use vaccines, chemicals and engineered foods to speed growth. They are feedlots. Experience and the science of epidemiology are clear: feedlots must be isolated from the wild because they over-stimulate pathogen propagation and drug resistance. Sign the petition at

Alexandra Morton with Komox paddlers in Courtenay.

“Salmon Are Sacred” has spaces for 160 people in canoes and calls on experienced paddlers, Tribal Journeys canoe teams and kayakers to join Alexandra Morton, Elena Edwards, First Nations leaders and our flotilla in pulling together for wild salmon as we journey down the Fraser River. The paddle will finish in Vancouver with a rally on October 25.

The migration will be officially launched at a “Hope for Wild Salmon” event on October 19 in Hope with other events en route including Chilliwack (20th), Mission (21st) and New Westminster (23rd). First Nations will take a leading role and paddlers include Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Chief Bob Chamberlin and Grand Chief Saul Terry. John Cummins MP, Fin Donnelly MP, Vicki Huntington MLA, Spencer Chandra Herbert MLA, Michelle Mungall MLA and Peter Julian MP will also paddle various stretches.

October 25: Stand Up for Wild Salmon – at the end of the paddle, the “Stand Up for Wild Salmon” walk starts from Vanier Park in Vancouver, with a flotilla gathering in Vancouver Harbour between 10-11AM. The procession then departs Vanier Park at 11AM to walk to the DFO and the Cohen Commission to visit the opening day of the Cohen Commission’s evidential hearings. A rally takes place at the Vancouver Art Gallery at 12:30PM.

If you are interested in joining the paddle, please contact Elena Edwards and Don Staniford at 250-230-1172 or email and


Enbridge keeps spilling


Stephanie Goodwin, director of Greenpeace in BC, having recently returned from a research trip to the Gulf of Mexico, offers the following comment regarding the Enbridge spill near Buffalo, New York: “Enbridge seems to be working to make things easier for the environmental movement than the oil industry these days. With its third oil pipeline spill in less than two months, Enbridge is giving even its most ardent supporters a hard time finding reasons to stand behind its operations. Rather than expanding its oil pipelines into Northern B.C., Enbridge should focus on rapid expansion of its wind power production. That way Pat Daniel could start his day by checking rising winds rather than falling stocks thanks to his network of aging, dangerous pipelines.” The Enbridge spill happened near Buffalo, New York on Line 10, a 144-kilometre line that moves about 70,000 barrels per day from Westover, Ontario to Kiantone, New York through Buffalo, carrying synthetic oil from the tar sands along with condensate and other light crudes.

Liberation BC raises awareness of inhumane treatment of factory farm animals

Every day, millions of animals are caged, beaten, electrocuted, transported thousands of miles without water, force-fed, mutilated without pain killers, slaughtered, skinned, trapped and scalded. The goal of Liberation BC ( is to end the suffering of animals and to be a voice speaking up for them. Make your voice count by joining one of Vancouver’s most active animal rights organizations. On September 25, people in Vancouver participated in the “Walk for Farm Animals,” which took place in 70 cities across Canada and the US. The “Walk” raises funds for Farm Sanctuary, a charity devoted to rescuing abused farmed animals and advocating for farmed animal protection. Vancouver walkers have raised thousands of dollars in donations each year. Stay up-to-date on animal issues with Vancouver Cooperative Radio. Listen live every Friday, Noon-1PM, 102.7FM

Listen to archives:

Ancient Forest Alliance stands with unions to ban raw log exports

On September 16, in a seemingly unlikely event, the Ancient Forest Alliance stood in solidarity with members of the Pulp, Paper and Woodworkers of Canada and the United Steelworkers union in Nanaimo as part of the ongoing fight to ban raw log exports in BC. AFA forest campaigner TJ Watt spoke alongside union officials Nanaimo MLA Leonard Krog and Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley to the hundreds of workers in attendance, denouncing the export of raw logs and calling for the protection of BC’s threatened forestry jobs.

“Under Gordon Campbell’s BC Liberals we have seen over 60 mills shut down across the province since 2003 while raw log exports have nearly doubled,” said Watt. “It’s time to ban raw log exports in BC, to rejuvenate local mills and to once again provide secure jobs for the thousands upon thousands of forestry workers who have been kicked aside by this backwardspolicy…Exported logs equals exported jobs.”

The AFA believes there can be a solution that works for both our ancient forests and our forestry workers. “The BC Liberal government needs to stimulate investment in the retooling of old-growth sawmills so they can handle second-growth trees. With 90 percent of the most productive lands on Vancouver Island having already been logged, the future of this industry is in sustainable second-growth forestry,” says Brendan Harry, communications director of the Ancient Forest Alliance.”

It is inevitable there will be a transition to logging of only second-growth forests in the not so distant future as the remaining old-growth forests become decreasingly accessible to the coastal logging industry in areas like Vancouver Island and the southern mainland. The Ancient Forest Alliance calls on the BC Liberal government to make this transition happen now, in a planned, rational way, allowing for the protection of what little endangered old-growth ecosystems are left and ensuring a smooth shift to sustainable second-growth logging instead.

“If the industry does not adjust in order to process second-growth trees, what happens down the road when that’s basically all that’s available? Where are the forestry jobs going to be?” Watt wonders. “The rest of most of the world is logging second, third, fourth growth and making it work. We need to be moving up the value chain, not down it. In the end, it’s about the long-term sustainability of a resource and an industry and right now we’re moving in completely the wrong direction.”

From Ancient Forest Alliance,

The story of Facebook and coal

The film about the founders of Facebook, The Social Network, premiered in September and Greenpeace has taken the opportunity to create its own short film, The So Coal Network, which tells the story of how Facebook has picked dirty coal power instead of clean energy. View the animation at

Facebook recently chose to operate its first data centre, located in Prineville, Oregon, US, with energy from Pacific Power, a utility that is fuelled primarily by coal. As part of its Cool IT campaign, Greenpeace is calling on Information Technology giants to become climate champions, but Facebook is heading in the opposite direction. More on Cool IT at:

Empowerment in exile – Transforming lives through education for 20 years

by Meredith Lawrence

Imagine being imprisoned and tortured for peacefully demonstrating for your right to religious and cultural freedoms. Imagine having to flee your home to escape persecution because of your spiritual beliefs and never being able to return to your homeland. Then imagine making a new life for yourself in a foreign country and finding the strength and courage to devote your life to the study and practice of your religion. This is the story of hundreds of ordained Tibetan women who now live as refugees in northern India.

Inspiration is often born out of necessity. For Rinchen Khando Choegyal, director of the Tibetan Nuns Project and former head of the Tibetan Women’s Association, that is exactly what happened. In 1987, many years after the Chinese invasion of Tibet, there was already a well-established Tibetan exile community living in and around Dharamsala, India. That year, when a large influx of nuns arrived in Dharamsala, with no possessions and nowhere to go, the idea for the Tibetan Nuns Project (TNP) was born. In the beginning, the only goals were to secure housing, medical care and basic education for the nuns.

The nuns who arrived in Dharamsala were compelled to leave Tibet in search of religious freedom and study. Under the Chinese government, traditional Tibetan Buddhist study is highly controlled, permitting only the right to basic prayer. Practice beyond this is a punishable crime. In search of the freedom to study their religion, the nuns who arrived in Dharamsala made the dangerous, month-long journey out of Tibet, arriving in Dharamsala illiterate and without housing.

As plans to care for the women progressed and as more nuns arrived, the Tibetan Nuns Project, with Rinchen Khando Choegyal at its head, emerged. Twenty years later, TNP is an integral part of the Tibetan exile community, supporting, educating and empowering more than 700 refugee nuns.

Many of the nuns who arrive in Dharamsala have been tortured, imprisoned and starved. One nun recounts, “We were arrested so many times, we suspected that Chinese spies were involved… Finally, we were released and sent back to the Tibetan border. I knew that if I returned to Tibet, we would be killed, so we decided to try to get into Nepal again. We walked for one month in the mountains. We were weak and sick and went for eight days without food.” In most cases, the nuns arrive without money or possessions and without knowing how to read or write, having had little opportunity to learn more than basic prayers.

Today, with the support and guidance of TNP, these courageous women have access to the full breadth of Tibetan Buddhist teachings as well as a modern education, including classes in math, English, history, computer skills and health-care training. In addition, TNP established the first higher education institute devoted exclusively to the nuns, which offers them the equivalent of a Masters degree. While their lives are simple, the nuns of the Tibetan Nuns Project today lead amazingly empowered lives, which they could not do in Tibet as it is currently governed.

Traditionally, nuns have not been able to study to reach as high a degree as the monks. It is extremely important the nuns have the opportunity to study both their religion and affairs of the modern world. With this education, nuns have the tools to ensure that their culture is sustained. A nun who is educated can pass this knowledge on to the members of her community, including the means with which to interact with and understand the society of the world in the 21st century. No matter what the future of Tibet holds, these women are committed to the study and preservation of Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan culture. 
It is important to remember that these women have suffered nearly unimaginable trials, many of them having been tortured for their beliefs, and they are living their lives in exile, far from their homeland. “If I was given the choice, I would have done this in Tibet,” says Rinchen Khando.

inchen Khando Choegyal

Benefit talk for Tibetan Nuns Project

Monday, October 25
7:30pm (reception to follow)
$10 suggested donation.


In this informative talk, Rinchen Khando Choegyal, director of the Tibetan Nuns Project and Dr. Elizabeth Napper talk about the transformative effect advanced education has had on the exiled nuns, the Tibetan exile community and the preservation of the Tibetan culture.

Rinchen Khando Choegyal is a native of Tibet and escaped with her family to India in 1959. She is the second woman in the history of Tibet to be elected as a cabinet minister in the Tibetan Government-in-Exile (1993-2001) and is a founding member of the Tibetan Women’s Association. She is married to Ngari Rinpoche, the youngest brother of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and lives in Dharamsala, India. Dr. Elizabeth Napper has worked full-time with the Tibetan Nuns Project since 1991. As co-director, she has helped develop new curricula that combine traditional Tibetan Buddhist studies with a modern education. She is author of Dependent-Arising and Emptiness, co-author of Fluent Tibetan, editor of Mind in Tibetan Buddhism, and co-editor of Kindness, Clarity and Insight by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.