BC Book Awards

bc book prizes

Celebrating the year’s brightest & best

Publishing is obsessed with “winners,” but I’ve always thought literary prizes are earned while winners are for lotteries. Still, awards recognize writers, endangered in our post-truth, anti-intellectual world. And they help sell books at a time when too many people don’t read and the average human attention span has shrunk to less than the seven seconds of a goldfish’s memory.

Since 1985, the non-profit West Coast Book Prize Society has drawn attention to the achievements of writers, publishers and illustrators in our part of the world. Since you are now reading, Common Ground hopes the 33rd annual BC Book Prizes’ list, and a bit about each, will encourage you to continue reading and support local writing.

Douglas Coupland, recipient of this year’s Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence. Photo courtesy of Random House,
www.randomhousebooks.com

Douglas Coupland has earned the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence. His first novel, the 1991 international bestseller Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture, popularized such terms as “McJob “and “Gen X.” He’s published 13 novels, two short story collections, seven non-fiction books, drama, film and TV screenplays. Coupland’s latest works include the novel, Worst. Person. Ever., an updated City of Glass, and a biography of Marshall McLuhan. His art includes “everywhere is anywhere is anything is everything,” exhibited at the Vancouver Art Gallery and Royal Ontario Museum.

The Lieutenant Governor’s Award, established in 2003 by Hon. Iona Campagnolo, is $5,000. The awards – fiction, non-fiction, poetry, children’s literature, children’s illustrated literature, books about BC and the BC Bookseller’s Choice – are $2,000 each.

Jennifer Manuel receives the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize for The Heaviness of Things That Float (Douglas and McIntyre). The story: the lonely world of Bernadette, a community nurse, who’s served for 40 years on a remote west coast First Nations reserve. A compelling debut novel, it explores the delicate dynamic with non-native outsiders and evokes desolate, beautiful and untamed Vancouver Island.

The Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize recognizes contributions to enjoyment and understanding of BC. This year’s winner is Mapping My Way Home: A Gitxsan History (Creekstone Press) by Neil J. Sterritt. His book traces European explorers and adventurers in the economic hub of 150 years ago, at the junction of the Skeena and Bulkley rivers. A Gitxsan leader, Sterritt also shares stories of his people, both ancient and recent.

The 2017 Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize was presented to Deborah Campbell for A Disappearance in Damascus: A Story of Friendship and Survival in the Shadow of War (Knopf Canada). In 2007, on assignment for Harper’s magazine, she witnessed millions of displaced Iraqi refugees flooding into Syria during the increasingly violent aftermath of the 2003 US-led invasion. By personalizing the ongoing tragedy, she provides deeper understanding of the Syrian civil war and refugee crisis and deep ramifications that war has had on the Middle East.

Adèle Barclay earned the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize for If I Were in a Cage I’d Reach Out for You (Nightwood Editions). She is quoted as saying, poetry is “a counter-spell to the Neoliberal, patriarchal, white supremacist, mess… Poetry resists, something that is at home with messiness and paradoxes. I think radical kinship or radical kindness and being public about emotional vulnerability… saying those things out loud, is political. Or at least I hope so.”

The Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize for best illustrated book was awarded to My Heart Fills with Happiness (Orca), written by Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Julie Flett. The charming board book not only celebrates indigenous culture and community, but also everyone’s ability to find joy in the small details of everyday life.

The best non-illustrated book written for children – Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize – is awarded to Iain Lawrence for The Skeleton Tree (Tundra Books). A nail-biting, page-turning survival story, it’s packed with psychological suspense and action, focused on an evolving relationship between two boys stranded in the Alaskan wilderness. Like all 15 books by this acclaimed author, including Gemini Summer, which earned the Governor-General’s Literary Award for Children’s Literature, this is a wonderful read for all ages.

Finally, the 2017 Bill Duthie Booksellers’ Choice Award is bitter-sweet. It’s awarded to Richard Wagamese, who died in March, at age 61. Embers: One Ojibway’s Meditations (Douglas and McIntyre) is among 13 books by one of Canada’s foremost First Nations authors and storytellers. Honest, evocative and articulate, this is a collection of hard-won wisdom by the late, self-described “spiritual bad-ass.” More than ever, First Nations stories are being shared.

Finalist authors tour BC schools and libraries. And the Society also coordinates the adopt-a-Library program.

Bruce Mason is a Vancouver and Gabriola Island-based banjo player, gardener, writer and author of Our Clinic.

Realism and compassion

photo of Vesanto Melina

NUTRISPEAK
by Vesanto Melina

For many, doing what comes naturally is an appealing concept. (For a good laugh, look up “Doin’ what comes natur’lly” on Youtube, from Annie Get Your Gun.) Often, the appeal comes from a realistic concern regarding food mass produced in systems never envisioned a century ago, using toxic pesticides and genetically modified organisms.

The result can be a rather confused mix of practices. People will eat a cow that was permitted to live in a fenced field for much of its life, ate fodder trucked from thousands of miles away and was later sent down the same slaughterhouse line as factory-farmed animals. They will consume a chicken that was sufficiently free range to live in the equivalent of a giant indoor litter box, with a small door to the outdoors that it never reached while alive. Such birds can have increased risk of infection from E coli and other bacteria and of violent pecking and cannibalization from their caged neighbours, compared with chickens protected by confinement in tiny cages with wire walls and bottoms.

“There’s a downside to taking birds out of their cages in that they’re free, but they’re also free to get hurt and free to get in trouble,” says Tina Widowski, Egg Farmers of Canada research chair in poultry welfare at the University of Guelph.

Groups such as Mercy for Animals record undercover images depicting horrendous living conditions and abuse. For some, these stories and images stimulate a quest for natural fare that is also linked with compassion for animals. Yet someone might spend $1,000 at the vet for their pet and then eat part of an equally intelligent animal for dinner. So what can guide our evolving dietary practices?

Jack hirose 3 day mindfulness intensive in Banff

“Natural,” when it comes to human practices, turns out not to be a helpful word. Our actions over many centuries include war, rape and cruel treatment of other humans and animals. Perhaps a more valuable word to guide our behaviour is compassion.

We now have options unavailable to us a century ago, even a generation ago. We can enjoy fresh produce year-round, including legumes, soy foods, grains, vegetables, nuts, seeds and fruits that are organic and GMO free. Scientific evidence provides indisputable evidence that an optimal diet for humans need not include any animal products. Vitamin B-12 comes not from animals or plants, but from bacteria. In animal products, B-12’s origins are bacterial contamination. In a clean, plant-based diet, we can choose fortified foods or a supplement. As it turns out, our paleo ancestors consumed fibre, a valuable and protective dietary component found only in plant foods, at levels of about 100g a day. This is higher than most people on entirely plant-based diets today, apart from elite athletes who are sufficiently active to consume a lot of calories.

EVENTS

MAY 26: 7:15 – 9pm, co-author Brenda Davis speaks on the Paleo diet at Vancouver Cohousing, www.meetup.com/MeatlessMeetup/events/236732131/

MAY 28: Brenda speaks at VegExpo in Vancouver, vegexpo.ca

References

1. Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly ­– Betty Hutton www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1R1-oRO6RY

2. “The cage-free egg trend: Is it just a shell game?” Globe and Mail, March 20, 2017, Ann Hui www.theglobeandmail.com

3. “Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Vegetarian Diets”

www.andjrnl.org/article/S2212-2672(16)31192-3/fulltext

and www.andjrnl.org/article/S2212-2672(16)31192-3/pdf

Vesanto Melina is a Vancouver dietitian and co-author of the award winning Becoming Vegan: Comprehensive Edition and other books. www.nutrispeak.com

 

StarWise March 2017

photo of Mac MacLaughlin

STARWISE
by Mac McLaughlin

Let’s fantasize for a few minutes and see where we get to. How about this? Three hundred thousand years have gone by and now we’re in the Golden Age. Everybody is getting along. There’s peace on Earth and love prevails throughout the land. There are no borders, no wars, no pollution, no violence, pestilence or disease. We are all one people on one planet in which race, creed and colour mean nothing. Men and women are equally respected and accepted. The children flourish and everyone lives in harmony. Utopia, ecstasy and freedom prevail and all is well on dear, old planet Earth. Can we find anything wrong with this picture? Is something not right? The true problem is that even with attaining every particular thing, we are still confined within the limitations of our physical bodies. We are still subject to birth and death and to the cycles of Awagawan, in which we journey throughout the ages, very much still stuck in the cycle of 84.

Awagawan is a term indicating the soul’s journey through the cycle of 8,400,000 species of life forms, from mineral, to plant, to insect, reptile, bird, animal and human form, ad infinitum. In other words, if we had the whole thing together and had all we could possibly desire, we would still feel at a loss and discontented with our lot. The problem is that we’re not from the Earth; our true home lies far above the stars, in a land that has eternal life and eternal love and bliss and it is not subject to change.

My beloved Guru, Param Sant Kirpal Singh ji Maharaj, gave the analogy of men being in prison. Upon seeing the condition of the prisoners, a benefactor made a donation so the men could have better food. Another benefactor decided to give better clothes. And a third benefactor set the men free. Which benefactor do you think the prisoners appreciated the most? Okay, let’s plummet back into 2017, smack in the middle of the Iron Age with all of its accoutrements of loneliness, despair, war, pain, disease, addiction, prejudices and hatreds. What to do? It seems like we’ve gone a bit mad and we’re certainly not treating each other very well. However, all is not lost and there is much to gain. The true Sant Gurus have stepped onto the Earth and are busy emancipating the souls and directing them homeward. Our daily work is to begin to create the Golden Age again, by truly striving to love one another, with no excuses or exclusions, only peace and love. See you on the high side.

Mac McLaughlin has been a practising, professional astrologer for more than four decades. His popular Straight Stars column ran in Vancouver’s largest weekly newspaper for 11 years. Email mac@macsstars.com or call 604-731-1109.

Aries ZodiacARIES Mar 21 – Apr 19
The Sun enters Aries on March 20, placing you in your solar high of the year. Mercury, Venus and Uranus are visiting as well, while Jupiter and Saturn cast good energy your way. The indicators are good, very good. It’s up to you to either do something with it or just languish through the fine spring days.

Taurus ZodiacTAURUS Apr 20 – May 21
Fiery Mars visits until April 23, bringing energy, strength and activity into your life. You’ll be busy, which you may not mind. Keep in mind that Mars also rules fires and accidents so go slow. Measure twice, cut once. It may be wise to measure your responses as a war of words could develop easily.

Gemini ZodiacGEMINI May 22 – Jun 20
Your solar career sector is a bit cloudy and a tad murky until mid-March. Then the clouds part and you can see your way through; you will know what to do. Stay above board and don’t stoop to any form of low activity. Speak the truth, as it will set you free.

CancerCANCER Jun 21 – Jul 22
Travel and solar career sectors are hot and it is likely you will be on the move. You may be inclined to take a spiritual vacation or a time out, in which you consider your options. Work and feed the spirit first, pocketbook next. In this way, you have your priorities right with no confusion.

Leo ZodiacLEO Jul 23 – Aug 22
Leo is one of the true metaphysical signs of the zodiac. You are on a quest for truth, light and love. Now, as the stars light up your solar eighth house, you may be inclined to dig in deep and leave no stone unturned. Life’s mysteries, death and the afterlife are topics that come up now.

Virgo ZodiacVIRGO Aug 23 – Sep 22
You work so hard and so diligently and generally you have all your ducks in a row. Bravo! But is it enough? I don’t think so, especially if you leave yourself vulnerable on the level of spirituality. Put up your treasures where rust cannot corrupt. In other words, feed your spirit first.

Libra ZodiacLIBRA Sep 23 – Oct 22
You can play now and pay later or pay now and play later. Jupiter is on board bringing you all kinds of gracious gifts. Please do not squander them on trivial endeavours. Head for the high ground and strive with all of your heart and soul towards enlightenment. Ask and it shall be granted.

Scorpio ZodiacSCORPIO Oct 23 – Nov 21
Relationships seem to be the hot topic for Scorpio these days. You are not alone – you’re never alone – although you may feel that way. You are here to finish off your give-and-take karma with the souls you have past life indebtedness with. Take it as a special, gracious duty to do so.

Sagittaurus ZodiacSAGITTARIUS Nov 22 – Dec 21
Big lessons come in waves. Get one done and another pops its head up. It’s going to be that way for a while so you might as well get into it and embrace it. It’s just a cleansing of the karmic slate and you may feel quite unburdened once you get through it all.

Capricorn ZodiacCAPRICORN Dec 22 – Jan 19
You were thrown into the cosmic blender years ago and soon you will be able to reassemble yourself in a brand new way. To put it mildly, you are in the midst of a rebirthing and renewal of all things. This time around, don’t forget your spiritual values. It’s the only reason you’re here.

Aquarius ZodiacAQUARIUS Jan 20 – Feb 19
Take me to your leader. Oh yes, you are plenty capable, competent and courageous. It’s just that you have been slumbering in the stones for many lifetimes and now the time has come for you to awaken and move towards the light. You have it in you and the power just needs to be awakened.

Pisces ZodiacPISCES Feb 20 – Mar 20
It’s your time to shine and I don’t think anyone can burn such a bright flame as dear Pisces when they’re at the top of their game. You are the mystic in our midst. Yes, I know you don’t know, but you do know, don’t you? Purify, forgive, pray, love and give of yourself.

Internet surveillance

Is your data ending up in NSA’s hands?

photo of David Christopher

INDEPENDENT MEDIA
by David Christopher

How many websites have you visited today? How many emails have you sent? How many times have you logged onto Facebook? How often have you used services like Slack or Skype?

If you’re anything like me, you probably won’t be able to answer these questions. Even as I write this piece, I have 16 tabs open in my browser, I’m logged into Facebook and my office’s instant messaging service is chirping away.

The Internet has become such an interwoven part of my daily routine that it’s impossible to keep track of how many websites I visit or emails I send. One of the best things about the Internet is that ‘it just works.’ Few of us give any thought to what’s actually happening to our data when we hit ‘send,’ click on a link or tap ‘reply’ to an instant message.

Unfortunately, what’s actually happening to our data on its journey around the Internet has deeply concerning privacy implications. Over the years, spy agencies such as the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) have built incredibly powerful surveillance systems capable of collecting vast quantities of our private communications data, including emails, video and voice chats, photos, videos, stored data and social networking details, and analyzing it for anything supposedly ‘suspicious.’

Although we like to think of the Internet as a ‘cloud,’ most of it relies on Internet Exchanges – buildings that connect the most important Internet cables together. Although these Internet Exchanges ensure our data reliably makes it from point A to point B, their physical nature makes us far more vulnerable to surveillance.

The NSA has taken advantage of this by installing listening posts, or ‘splitter rooms,’ in key US cities where Internet Exchanges are located. When your data travels through one of these Internet Exchanges, it is almost certainly subject to being intercepted by the NSA and stored at the main NSA Data Center in Utah. Once outside Canada, your data is treated by the NSA as foreign and loses Canadian legal and constitutional protections, representing a major loss of privacy.

Even more worrying is this surveillance is not restricted to when you visit a US website or send an email to someone south of the border. A team of experts at the University of Toronto and York University, led by Professor Andrew Clement, have been researching this extensively as part of the IXmaps project. They’ve concluded that at least 25 percent of domestic Canada-to-Canada data travels via the US where it is subject to NSA surveillance.

This phenomenon is known as “boomerang routing.” For example, an email sent from Vancouver to Toronto may ‘boomerang’ via Chicago. Even an email sent from one part of Vancouver to another may travel via the US, largely as a result of years of monopolistic practices by major Canadian telecoms, poor regulatory oversight and underinvestment in Canada’s Internet infrastructure.

At OpenMedia, we’ve worked with IXmaps researchers on a new educational platform to raise awareness of these issues in a project made possible by the financial support of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (www.priv.gc.ca/en/)

Our platform includes an informational video, a series of infographics, a detailed FAQ and some pointers to tools to better safeguard your privacy online. See openmedia.org/en/IXmaps

David Christopher is communications manager for OpenMedia, which works to keep the Internet open, affordable and surveillance-free. openmedia.org

Eating our way to better mental health

Science shows we can

DRUG BUST
by Alan Cassels

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. – Hippocrates

There are very few golden bullets in medicine, very few. But some pharmaceuticals are extremely useful, especially if you’ve got type 1 diabetes, heart disease, severe pain or asthma. Then your drugs may be saving your life.

But, as I’ve said before, the problem with an overly drug-centric approach to healthcare is that it relentlessly eclipses other options. Much of our medical care is underpinned by research dominated by drug makers with the resources to conduct large, randomized, controlled trials. We need those studies, but we find the treatments that do not fit the profit paradigm are starved for respect and research funds, meaning the bias deepens and we end up with the kind of health care that society has decided to pay for.

Particularly problematic in our pharma-centric world are psychiatric treatments, often studied in questionable trials for short periods of time on people with indeterminate diagnoses. They are then used incredibly liberally even when evidence emerges, as it has with antidepressants and antipsychotics, that many people are being hurt by them.

Increasingly, even though society is swallowing growing amounts of drugs for such conditions as anxiety, depression, ADHD, mood and anxiety disorders, the prevalence of those disorders continues to climb. Where is the kid asking why the Emperor is naked? If we’re spending so much more every year on drugs for psychiatric illness, why aren’t the rates of mental illness dropping? Something is wrong here.

I think about this in the context of some friends of mine. They are having a terrible time with their daughter, who is so anxious she can’t go to school. I’m not sure what’s going on, but it appears she’s in a real rough space. She’s been taken to the hospital on numerous occasions and there have been several attempts to get her to see a child psychiatrist. She hasn’t been prescribed any drugs yet, but I’m pretty sure that when she finally gets in to see the psychiatrist, she’ll begin her entrée into the world of psychiatric drugs.

This is the standard road travelled by many people who are depressed, anxious, sleepless or hyperactive, yet there may be other options worth exploring. Certainly, cognitive behavioural therapy (‘talk’ therapy) and exercise come to mind. We’re also witnessing the growing area in the use of micronutrients – the essential minerals and vitamins we consume in our food and its importance to our mental health.

Bonnie Kaplan, an emeritus professor at the University of Calgary, has spent much of her professional life studying micronutrients, particularly in the context of mental health. The body and brain require a fairly large array of vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids and when we have deficits it’s possible our brains suffer even more than our bodies. In our phone conversation, Bonnie tells me, “This is all about nutrition above the neck. The brain is the biggest consumer of nutrients.”

Because people have genetic differences, respond to stress differently and, hence, have different micronutrient needs, it is plausible that many of us could have nutrient deficiencies that affect our mood. We have to remember that nutrients are involved in every biologic, chemical and physiologic process.

“There are 50 known genetic mutations in the realm of physical health, where an alteration in the ability of enzymes to grab and hold the nutrients that they need for optimal metabolism is impaired. They need extra nutrients to make the pathways work,” Bonnie says.

She brims with enthusiasm noting there are somewhere in the neighbourhood of 45 clinical trials testing micronutrients in a variety of mental health conditions, including insomnia, ADHD, psychotic disorders, mood and anxiety. And she’s seen the greatest benefits using them to treat irritability, mood dysregulation, bipolar-type symptoms and explosive rage.

As an example of the kind of research out there, she describes an “amazing study from Spain,” best known for studying links between nutrition and cardiovascular disease, but which has also evaluated links to mental health. The researchers took about 9,000 people with no mental disorders and looked closely at what they ate, quantifying their intake of prepared pastries, processed foods and other forms of junk food. They divided the participants into three groups, depending on their consumption of processed foods, and waited about six years to find out who would be diagnosed with a mood or anxiety disorder.

“Those in the study who consumed the least processed food had a very low probability of developing mood and anxiety disorders. The group in the middle were generally ok, too,” Bonnie told me. “But those with the highest intake of processed foods were at high risk of becoming depressed or anxious.”

Bonnie is well aware of the difficulty this research has in making any inroads in the pharma-dominated world of psychiatry. Whether it is Omega-3s, vitamin D or calcium, so much research energy is put into studying single nutrients at a time. Many times she has seen researchers unable to get funding to study broad-spectrum micronutrients because of the central research tendency – and perhaps human nature – to want to find a single magic bullet. One reviewer asked, while looking down the list of 40 or so micronutrients in a nutritional formula proposed for a study, “Which is the important one?”

“They’re all important!” Bonnie exclaims. There is a strong rationale for studying a large batch of micronutrients together, which comes in a ‘broad spectrum formula,’ because the body requires all kinds of vitamins and minerals to work properly.

Another surprising finding came from a study in adults with psychotic disorders. Everyone was initially given a broad-spectrum micronutrient supplement. After a month, they were supposed to be randomized to receive either the supplement or a placebo in a blinded fashion. The wheels fell off the study when the patients refused to be randomized because they didn’t want to take a chance in giving up the formula. If the study participants themselves are that adamant about the effectiveness of the formula, there is probably something there!

There are a number of companies that produce broad-spectrum formulas containing vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and one might wonder how much bias seeps into this research, as we see in the pharmaceutical world, when the manufacturer pays for the research, gives out research grants and otherwise shapes the research in ways that support its product?

Having witnessed the intertwining of the pharmaceutical industry and the mental health world, and the resulting corruption of the mental health scientific literature, Kaplan and her colleagues have insisted on putting a firewall between the manufacturers and the research: they won’t accept research money from those making micronutrient formulas.

Researchers like Bonnie Kaplan are doing exactly the type of research the world needs more of. Most probably, there is a great link between nutrition and mental health. The way we currently treat mental illness needs a complete rethink and it must include better research and a better use of a range of treatments – even things we eat.

Kaplan sees the huge price governments and individuals are currently paying for the relatively ineffective pharmaceutical model of psychiatric care. They need to know that micronutrients, while no magic bullet, could be a very effective and safe way to help many people with mental health challenges. In two published studies, they have shown that micronutrient treatment was not only more effective, but it also cost less than10% of conventional care. It seems that governments could save a bundle if they helped contribute to the research and the treatments.

Kaplan has established two donor-advised charitable funds and has already raised over half a million dollars to support the clinical trials of junior colleagues around the world who are passionate about studying the use of nutrition for mental health. Contact her at kaplan@ucalgary.ca or donate directly to this kind of research through the Calgary Foundation.

Alan Cassels is a former drug policy researcher, a writer and the author of several books on the pharmaceutical industry.

Long life, great health

photo of Vesanto Melina

NUTRISPEAK
by Vesanto Melina

When you consider the diseases and deaths of older people in your family, does it seem like your life might follow a similar pattern? Well, it turns out that changing your lifestyle can actually change your genes. Through lifestyle choices, we can turn on the genes that keep us healthy and turn off the genes that contribute to chronic inflammation, oxidative stress and the oncogenes that promote prostate, breast and colon cancer.

Studies have shown that within three months, a shift in habits can alter more than 500 genes. One researcher on this subject, Dr. Dean Ornish, revolutionized medicine with his powerful evidence that four lifestyle choices – adopting a plant-centred diet, getting moderate and regular exercise, reducing stress and not smoking – could turn around heart disease. Starting with prostate cancer, Ornish has extended his research into the exploration of various cancers.

One study was co-conducted with Elizabeth Blackburn, who received the 2009 Nobel Prize for her research on telomeres, the protective ends of our chromosomes that control aging. They are like the plastic tips at the end of shoelaces that keep your shoelaces from unravelling. The telomeres keep your DNA from unravelling. As our telomeres get shorter, our lives get shorter and the risk of disease and premature death increases. Blackburn investigated the actions of telomerase, the enzyme that can replenish and counteract the shortening of telomeres.

Short telomere length in blood cells is associated with ageing and ageing-related diseases, such as cancer, stroke, vascular dementia (Alzheimer’s), cardiovascular disease, obesity, osteoporosis and diabetes. For example, men with shortened telomere length in prostate-cancer-associated stromal cells are at a substantially increased risk of metastasis or dying from prostate cancer.

I had the privilege of being a staff dietitian on some of Ornish’s groundbreaking research on the reversal of cardiovascular disease through the four lifestyle changes noted above. Participants adopted low-fat diets centred on whole plant foods. Simple and inexpensive lifestyle changes were shown to turn around disease indicators within a short period of time, not just by affecting symptoms, as drugs do, but by also addressing the underlying causes.

Whoopi Goldberg says, “74 is the new middle age.” This month, I turn 75 and I hope I am just two-thirds of the way along the path! On March 31, I will be speaking in Vancouver on creating a life lengthening lifestyle. I’ll also address the latest tips about dietary sources of iron, optimal serum ferritin levels, keeping blood glucose level throughout the day, protective phytochemicals and practical tips for excellent protein intakes on plant-based diets. This event takes place in Vancouver`s first cohousing community, a modern form of village that was first developed in Denmark in the early 1970s. Cohousing effectively solves some of the problems of isolation that can occur in modern urban living and allows for the psychosocial support that has been shown to reduce risk of chronic disease.

Vesanto Melina Vesanto Melina is a Vancouver dietitian and co-author of the award winning Becoming Vegan: Comprehensive Edition and other books. www.nutrispeak.com


EVENT Register to see Vesanto Melina in person (limited seating)

Friday March 31, 7:15 PM at Vancouver Cohousing through Meatless Meetup
www.meetup.com/MeatlessMeetup/events/236730119/
email: vesanto.melina @gmail.com

Marvellous monarchs move Minister McKenna

photo of David Suzuki

SCIENCE MATTERS
by David Suzuki

Federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna had her mind blown recently. Remarkably, it had nothing to do with the political gong show south of the border. McKenna was visiting the hilltop monarch butterfly reserves in rural Mexico. There, she saw millions of monarchs clinging to oyamel fir trees in mind-bogglingly dense clusters, surprisingly well camouflaged for such colourful critters. She then wrote a heartfelt article calling on people in Canada to act before monarchs go the way of passenger pigeons and buffalo.

Since the 1990s, the eastern monarch population has declined by about 90 percent. More than a billion monarchs once made the journey to Mexico. In winter 2013, that dropped to 35 million. Modest increases since then have largely been erased. An intense late-winter storm wiped out more than six million monarchs last March and unfavourable weather conditions during critical breeding periods caused a 27 percent reduction over the past year.

Much of the overall decline has been pinned on the eradication of milkweed through widespread use of the herbicide glyphosate (known as Roundup) in the US midwest and southern Canada. Milkweed is a host plant and the only food source for monarch caterpillars. Extreme weather conditions… have exacerbated the decline.

In 2016, scientists estimated the monarch population has up to a 57 percent chance of “quasi-extinction” over the next 20 years. That means the population could hit levels so low recovery is impossible. Others suggest the migration into Canada could end. In November, scientists overseeing at-risk species in Canada said the government should list the monarch butterfly population as endangered.

Pre-eminent monarch advocate Chip Taylor estimates that more than a billion milkweed will need to be planted throughout the range if the population is to recover. That would require unprecedented co-operation and collaboration by agencies, groups and scientists throughout the monarch’s 5,000-kilometre migratory route… especially in the northern end of the range where 44 percent of the population originates, according to University of Guelph scientists.

In the US, plans have taken flight over the past few years. Federal and state agencies collaborated to develop an ambitious 10-year plan to increase the monarch population, providing more than 10 million for research and conservation efforts. Former president Barack Obama helped launch a plan to establish one million bee-and butterfly-friendly gardens across the continent, including butterfly gardens on the White House grounds.

In Mexico, government agencies, international organizations and local groups like Alternare are working diligently to protect the forests where monarchs overwinter.

What’s missing is action from Canada’s government. The good news is that the person with the most power to influence the plight of this imperilled species is Minister McKenna. Whether Canada legally protects monarchs, as recommended in November by federal scientists, is up to her. That’s why her newfound love of monarchs renews my hope.

If Canada is serious about saving the monarchs, the federal government needs to start now.

David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation. Learn more at www.davidsuzuki.org

Is it my partner or is it me?

photo of Gwen Randall-Young

UNIVERSE WITHIN
by Gwen Randall-Young

Projection makes the whole world a replica of our own unknown face.
– Carl Jung

Projection in relationships is the tendency to disown qualities we don’t like in ourselves and see them in others instead. It is a subconscious defence mechanism, meaning we are not even aware we are doing it.

A man who finds himself attracted to other women, but has not fully admitted it to himself, may accuse his partner of being unfaithful. A woman may accuse her partner of having anger issues, unaware that her anger issues are just as significant.

This is a destructive process as we are certain the problems in the relationship are the partner’s fault. If you find yourself blaming your partner for what you are thinking or feeling, or for how you are reacting, you are likely projecting your issues onto them.

If you feel you are projecting, the next time you are triggered by your partner consider the part of you that is like them. If you complain your partner is disorganized, maybe there are some aspects of your life that are not as organized as you would like and you are bothered by that. When we can see how our partner is triggering our own issues, we no longer judge so harshly.

Try to stay with your feelings when you are triggered. Do not react or push back. This will not be easy because you will be feeling pain, but the pain is coming from emotional pain you have denied.

It can feel like craziness if your partner is accusing you of the very things you know are true about him/her. Our first impulse is to defend ourselves and point out that he, too, has the qualities he is attributing to you. Resist this urge.

Instead, quietly disengage. Take some space and don’t get sucked in to the old pattern of fighting about it. Be compassionate and supportive to yourself and recognize it is not about you.

Here is the hardest part. Do not argue, defend, explain or counter attack. You will get entangled in the craziness if you do. Because you have attacked them, your partner does not have to own their stuff. They will defend or counter-attack and the downward cycle starts again.

It gets even more complicated when we add co-dependency into the mix. If one has low self-esteem and feels the partner is responsible for making her feel good, valued, beautiful and smart, she will react with strong emotions when she is not getting that from him.

In co-dependency, there is a tendency to manipulate others to get what you want or to blame them for your feelings of inadequacy or unhappiness. The reason couples get stuck in negative feelings is because both are being triggered and neither one is taking responsibility for making themselves feel strong, good and worthy.

In some ways, it is even more difficult when one person is able to look inside and self-reflect and is not projecting or co-dependent, while the other is. It can be so difficult to navigate through this, as the one projecting cannot see the other in a good light. It is as if they are having a bad dream and they see you as the antagonist.

If you find yourself stuck in this dilemma, it is time to find a good therapist. You can also download an MP3 on Codependency and Projection at gwen.ca

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and psychotherapist in private practice. For articles and information about her books, “Deep Powerful Change” hypnosis CDs and “Creating Effective Relationships” series, visit www.gwen.ca ‘Like’ Gwen on Facebook for daily inspiration.