Many are saying 2016 was a terrible year because of the large number of celebrities who died over the last twelve months. It was – I am sure – horrible for the friends and families of those celebrities; and fans will need time to mourn.

If we’ve learned one thing from 2016, it’s how to make a talented stranger’s death a declaration of our own fine taste and sensitivity.

— Julia Williams (@juliawriter) December 30, 2016

Condemning 2016 as ‘horrible’ seems a bit arrogant though. After so many years of living in the shadow of Baby Boomers, it seems a bit hypocritical for Generation X’ers (like myself) to claim that our experience is the same experience for everyone else.

If you want to proclaim 2016 a shit year because of the millions of people killed and displaced by war, poverty, bigotry, mass murder, natural disasters and climate change, I won’t argue.

For me personally, 2016 was pretty darned good (not listed in order of importance):

  1. This was the year I found full time meaningful work in my new career (nearly at my 1-year anniversary).
  2. I recently became a fully accredited social worker in Alberta.
  3. I am further away from (and more aware of) the depression that took hold of my life several years ago.
  4. Our young children are growing ever more cool with each passing month.
  5. Canada is waking up from our long-held ignorance of the the horrendous ordeals we forced Indigenous peoples to endure for 150+ years (visit
  6. For all of 2016, the Liberal Party was in charge of Canada’s government. For me, this goodness is mostly because we have now moved further away from the decade of recent Conservative rule.
  7. Barack Obama was still President of the USA for all of 2016.  Still a bit shocked that Trump will be President for most of 2017 but this post isn’t about 2017.
  8. We also had the entirety of 2016 with an NDP government in Alberta. For me, this remains a nice change after 40+ years of intense neoliberalism.
  9. Alberta’s economy seems to be improving.
  10. 2016 is a year we can remind ourselves that even though we lost LGBTQ and feminist icons – like David Bowie, Prince, George Michael, Vera Rubin and (most recently) Carrie Fisher – they were here when we needed them and they lived lives that were inspirational to a great many folks.
  11. I now think even more often of the musical genius of Leonard Cohen, Sharon Jones, and Mose Allison.

For everyone who is experiencing loss, I hope you are able to take the time for mourning and I wish you well for 2017 and beyond.


Racist Memes

Lately, I have seen way too many racist memes and text on social media and racist policy from our government. Much of these messages include untrue stereotypes and conflated comparisons so I have decided to make a list of truths.

The following list contains truths as I see them. I am a white, atheist male born in Canada so I do not purport to be an expert on the Muslim faith. I am open to learning though…

Debunking Canadian racism against persons of Muslim faith (in no particular order):

  1. Newcomers are not going to ‘steal your jobs’ and they are not going to drain the economy. Canada has welcomed newcomers for hundreds of years and, for the most part, our economy has continually grown.
  2. Refugees from Syria are largely educated and secular. They are not responsible for civil war in Syria. They are civilians and are not a threat to Canada.
  3. Citizenship should be permanent. And if government insists on policy to remove citizenship from those deemed to be convicted terrorists, it should be removed by a rational-thinking judge using evidence and  NOT by politicians.
  4. Muslims do NOT hate Jesus. Jesus is a prophet in the Qur’an.
  5. Muslims do NOT hate beer. Some abstain and some drink tasty craft beer.
  6. Burkas, Niqabs and Hijabs are all different and not all Muslim women wear them. Descriptions can be found at
  7. Various forms of head coverings are also worn by Christians and Jews.
  8. If you think the Qur’an is about war and terror, try reading the Old Testament.
  9. The Klu Klux Klan cover their faces to avoid being caught committing hate crimes. Some women cover their faces for reasons of modesty. The KKK is not comparable to women of faith.
  10. Two women in approximately 700,000 immigrants have requested to wear a niqab during Canadian citizenship ceremonies and Conservatives made it into an election issue.
  11. Banning the niqab at citizenship ceremonies and other public events will only act to further oppress Muslim women.
  12. Many Muslim women who wear head coverings are strong, feminist women.
  13. The presence of terrorism was, at least partly, created by western meddling in the middle east. ISIS didn’t exist before US invaded Iraq following the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York.
  14. Neither Iraq nor ISIS were involved with the attack on the World Trade Center in New York.
  15. Christians are not judged and branded as KKK members and Muslims should not be judged and branded as terrorists.
  16. Sharia law is not coming to Canada.
  17. If you are worried that newcomers will change your way of life for the worse, you probably don’t know many newcomers. The only newcomers to significantly change the way of life in Canada were early Europeans who invaded and oppressed those who were already living here.
  18. Diversity is awesome! Diversity can be celebrated and we can all learn new things when meeting persons of cultures different from our own.

Please feel free to use any of the above with or without credit. Just please spread truth and peace rather than hate and racism.


Bad day. Okay, not really bad.

I want a job.

I have six working days left in my practicum with the OECS and had what I call a, “low mental health day”.  Not a day of depression or anxiety, just a day of blah, low productivity, unsociable, quiet, slightly clumsy, contemplative…crap.  Like I said, not depressed – I’ve been depressed and it’s not that. I’m glad these days come along with increasing rarity.

Reduit Beach

Reduit Beach, St. Lucia

When I got home, I ate and then went for a long quiet contemplative swim and then sat on the sand of what has become my favourite beach. I watched the sun go down and then I watched the horizon as slightly blurred outlines of people went about doing their own activities (blurred because I didn’t take my glasses to the beach).

On the way home and right now, I am listening to a mixture of old-school punk music on my smartphone. Lot’s of Iggy Pop, Iggy and the Stooges, New York Dolls, The Clash, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, Fugazi, Dead Milkmen, Dead Kennedys…That kind of music – a little angry and a little raucous, sometimes humourous and sometimes political.

I just spent two years working on a Master of Social Work and am having a heck of a time finding a job. I feel like it would be easier finding work in St. Lucia or the Caribbean side of South America than it is finding work in Canada. I would like to stay here but will not put my family through another extended absence.  I miss them and they miss me.  So regardless of where I find work, it has to be a family decision. And it’s a serious family decision because my partner has worked hard to build her photography business (Visual Hues Photography) and living elsewhere for an extended period of time is a big decision – it’s tricky. Oh and we love our neighbourhood – even wrote about it on July 1st.

There are exciting opportunities in Calgary and I have applied for very appealing positions in Edmonton and in Victoria – we’ve talked before about moving to Victoria and I’m pretty sure we can make Edmonton work.  And there is one opportunity that I would love in Canmore – great place to live too I am certain.

It is not easy finding work in a country where you are not currently living and after running my own consulting business in a different industry for fifteen years – it’s been a long time since I even wanted to be an an employee of an entity that I did not create.

And I do want a job, I want a career where I am in a leadership role of a social services nonprofit, government or educational institution.  I want to combine an executive level position with one that interacts with the public, with clients, with staff and with volunteers. I want to contribute research to a body of knowledge and I want to use evidence to create, critique and utilize policy for a more socially just society.

I did this video for school about seven months ago and it still holds – I am determined (the photo in the background was taken by Janet in Nepal).

And then there is my long work and volunteer history. Check it out and send me any referrals and tips okay? Seriously, I’d appreciate it.

my LinkedIn profile

Now it is very dark and I can hear the sound of the Caribbean’s creatures – I love it. And the sound of far away music combined with the muffled sounds of dogs barking – it’s not such a party night tonight.

Since I’m leaving soon, I had better start looking for a Camaro to drive back to Canada (it’s a segue).


Happy Canada Day

A few days ago I wrote about my ambivalence for national pride. Mostly, that post was about the flag as a symbol representing systemic racism.

Today, I will share some of the things I love about Canada.

My nieghbourhood in Calgary, Canada is truly wonderful. It is family oriented and we do know and care for one another.  And every July 1, the street is closed for a morning to late-evening block party. I am missing it this year because I am currently 2-months into a 3-month attachment with OECS in beautiful St. Lucia.

Our community (and specifically our street) has been featured nationally in Canada. One of our neighbours were interviewed by the Globe and Mail in 2011 – and although our street is mostly white, heteronormative and middle-to-upper-middle class – I am pleased that Chantel Elliot was able to speak to the diversity that does exist all-the-while discussing its lovely community spirit.

Another neighbour, author Will Ferguson, wrote about our street for CBC and  participated in the ‘hyperlocal’ project for the National Film Board. In that CBC article, Will wrote about our nieghbourhood:

“When I sit on my porch and look down my street, I see veranda after veranda lined up. Close together but not too close.  Kids coming and going. Neighbors chatting to neighbors.

We also often do things with our neighbours: events in Calgary; theatre; camping; hiking in the Rocky Mountains; etc.

Although inequality is growing in Canada, it is still more equal than many of the globe’s wealthy countries and that means Canadians have a better chance of living the ‘American Dream’ than those living in the United States (it says so in the New York Times and in the Globe and Mail).

Other big reasons I like Canada include:

  1.  High quality education (
  2. Nationalized healthcare (thank you Tommy Douglas)
  3. Legalized homosexuality in 1969 (Smith, 2005)
  4. Legalized same-sex marriage in 2005 (Wintemute, 2004)
  5. History of Peacekeeping – at least until recently (
  6. History of a strong social safety net (
  7. Rocky Mountains and its rivers (UNESCO)
  8. The Prairies where I lived the first half of my life (
  9. Official languages of English and French – wish I could speak them both and that indigenous languages were also ‘official’ (
  10. Multiculturalism – it’s not perfect but I do love diversity (
  11. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation – especially radio and online news (

So yes, Canada is a cool country and I am happy to be Canadian. I also recognize that I have privilege as a white male Canadian. And while the situation is improving, too few Canadians are aware of the racism that created (and continues in) Canada.  We have a lot of progress to make and the sooner the better.

Happy Canada Day!


Canadian Nationalism & Racism

Captain Canuck and -isms

Canada Day

Canada Day

As a child, I felt some patriotism – I was a big fan of Captain Canuck and I liked attending Canada Day fireworks in Portage la Prairie. I remember a time when a box of fireworks caught fire and created a spectacular flurry explosions in the air.  This also meant that Island Park bridge might catch fire. If memory serves (and sometimes it doesn’t), my father, a volunteer firefighter at the time, helped put that fire out before the bridge was damaged.

As with many Canadians, I tended to define Canada in opposition to the United States. My affinity to Captain Canuck was possibly a result of Captain America.

I was too young and unaware during the Reagan years to understand the damaging aspects of Reaganomics and Thatcherism. During the second Bush years (GW years), it was easy to feel superior as a Canadian. While our government was still neoliberal, Bush was more neoconservative and quite imperialistic (note: in my view, neoliberalism favours small government and fosters economic – & social – inequality while neoconservatism adds big prisons and big military combined with imperialistic intentions of spreading neoliberalism under the guise of ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’).

As I aged and learned more about my country and about world politics, I became less and less patriotic.  And then the Harper years began in Canada and Obama soon rose to power in the United States.  By Canadian standards, Obama is still right-wing but Harper and his team worked (and still work) to make Canada ‘unrecognizable.’ I used to think he intentionally echoed the Bush’s politics but maybe – with his peculiar affinity for Canada’s monarchist roots – it’s the Thatcher years he really admires.

Nowadays, I usually celebrate Canada Day with family and neighbours and I cheer for Canada in the Olympics and in women’s World Cup football.  Even then I feel unease though… While patriotism and exceptionalism can create global inequality, international tensions and war, communities and sports are, in many ways, peaceful and unifying.

While living in St. Lucia, it was even easy to cheer for their national team at a recent cricket match.  I enjoyed the fact that the audience included many passionate – albeit peaceful – fans of both teams.

Canada’s Flag

Canada's Flag

Canada’s Flag

Aesthetically, Canada’s flag is pretty – red, white and maple. The flag turned fifty in February which, on some levels, protects itself from the stigma of the Confederate flag of southern USA states.

The Confederate flag has recently taken additional heat for the echoes of the racist roots of USA. While slavery also existed under the current US flag, the Confederate flag has become a symbol for racism and many are justifiably wanting the flag taken down from public view.

When thinking of the Canadian flag and Canada’s extremely racist colonialist roots, in many ways, Canada’s flag escapes that symbol of racism because of its young age. Slavery, the brutal residential school system, segregation (aka, apartheid), dishonoured treaties and more were all created under the Union Jack (Britain’s flag).

The Canadian flag was first used in 1965. The Portage la Prairie residential school was not closed until 1975 and the last of Canada’s residential schools operated until 1996.  Systemic racism continues to oppress indigenous peoples living within Canada’s borders and our governments continue to ignore the need for an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women (info on MMIW at,, It is for these reasons that, perhaps, Canada’s flag should not escape acting as a symbol of racism.


Residential School System

Against the Grain (click to view)

Against the Grain (click to view)


"Indian Horse" by Richard Wagamese

“Indian Horse” by Richard Wagamese

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women on Twitter