Sunday, 5 September 2010

Conversation BC

Dear Carole James

I was interested to read in The Vancouver Sun that you have sent out a call for input on the new NDP platform, to carry you into the next election. It seems to me that the BC Liberal Party should not, if ethics weighed into the question at all, be elected and re-elected and re-re-elected. Clearly it is wealth and connectivity, and not ethics, that swings the vote here in BC.

That said, I am going to give you a little list of possibilities that would make my life as a BC mother, writer, voter, a whole lot better: I am going to do this from the center, you understand, without regard for what is deemed to be federal, provincial, municipal, or spiritual matters. I was born between the tidy stools of governance and polity, and I will die here, so, pardon my overview.

1) In Canada, in BC, we hereby acknowledge that the teeth are a part of the human body, every bit as valuable and as integral as the pancreas, the brain, the skin, and so on. All levels of public medicine must now include care and well-being of teeth; dentists will be included in the medical system in the same way that midwives, chiropractors, and other specialists are included, and the support of all humans within all territories, in regard to their teeth as well as their hearts, is assured by all levels of government and without prejudice.

2) In Canada, in BC, we hereby acknowledge that Indigenous people are a part of the human family, every bit as valuable and as integral as the settlers, the immigrants, the refugees, and so on. All levels of human rights must now include and apply to indigenous people, be they diasporic urban and suburban people, rural and reserve-based people, provincial and territorial-based people, status and non-status people, wealthy and impoverished people, connected and disconnected people, female people and male people, miscegenetic people and non-miscegenetic people. The collective rights of Indigenous people do not extinguish the individual rights of Indigenous people. The collective and individual rights of settler people do not extinguish the collective or individual rights of Indigenous people.

3) In Canada, in BC, we hereby acknowledge that artists and craftspeople are primary producers, in the same way that hunters, trappers, fishers, foresters, loggers, miners, and farmers are primary producers. Secondary producers such as gallery owners, academics, publishers, bookstore owners, elementary school teachers and high school teachers, college and university instructors, all rely upon the labour of primary producers, in order to execute their work. All levels of governance, industry, and labour must now work to protect the human viability of the families of primary producers, without regard to race, caste, or kind of production, by protecting the human rights and the health and well-being of primary producers, to the same degree that the more privileged families of secondary producers rely upon.

4) In Canada, in BC, we hereby acknowledge that persons victimized by crime are not culpable for the crime of which they have become a target, and thus, we do not tolerate the systemic public humiliation and dismissal of victims of crime, contemporary or historical, by permitting persons raped, murdered, assaulted and/or disappeared to be publically represented as inviting assault through any human choices made by themselves, or through any racial or religious or class or gender affiliations. We do not tolerate the systemic dismissal of Indigenous persons rights to personal safety. We do not tolerate police or military personnel who, through word or through deed, exemplify the spirit of racism and fear and denigration of “the other,” on duty or off duty, and we do not dismiss the ongoing impact of viral racism that results from the political finessing of overt racism and ongoing harm.

5) In Canada, in BC, we hereby acknowledge that children are persons, and must be adequately cared for, and we further acknowledge that the family is as integral a unit of polity as is any larger unit of society, thus, we will cease and desist over-privileging the non-familial caregivers of children, and systemically pushing primary families into distress and disintegration, by harmonizing the financial and medical supports available to all families of children in need of governmental support, without discrimination, inclusive of all races of people, all levels of government, and all regions of the province and the country. We will revise policies that prohibit poor families from accessing resources, or we will appoint bureaucracies to support those families to find their way through the current bureaucracies, thereby employing everyone.

6) We will, eventually, acknowledge that it is not the individual that is the basis of our society, but the connections between individuals, and the connections between families, communities and Nations, and that these connections are not wholly governed by individuals’ self interest, but by the ocean of vitality which we— altogether in our actual natural habitat— embody and exemplify. In Canada, in BC, we understand how the conditions of life imposed on some of us are the price that is paid for the conditions of life enjoyed by others of us, and, we have a transformative urge to correct the situation, for the long-term well-being of all.

All best,
Joanne Arnott

Photos of Joanne & her family's hands by Dan Fairchild, August 2005
For more of Dan's work visit

Thanks to Jesse Rae for permission to share theLocalOnlyz link, a little to the left or a little to the right of this blog post.