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Leslie Campbell

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  1. I agree with SRB’s comment about the rules being open to interpretation, and as I noted in my story, inconsistently applied. After being told by my mother’s care home management that it was not permitted by Island Health that the Designated Visitor status could be shifted to another family member (me), my sister found a statement on the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority indicating that in “extenuating circumstances” it could be (which makes total sense). Our facility manager agreed to look into further with Island Health and (hurray!) I am about to become the Designated Visitor. So prod those inconsistencies and authorities. Like everyone else, the authorities are having to make it up—or at least refine the details—as they go along. Make sure you fill out the survey of the Senior’s Advocate on visitation--it’s deadline of Sept 30 is nigh: www.carehomevisits.ca
  2. until
    UTOPOS Callum Monteith & Alex Tedlie-Stursberg Curated by Andrea Valentine-Lewis September 11 to October 10, 2020 Opening Friday, September 11, 7 to 9pm Deluge Contemporary Art 636 Yates Street, Victoria BC | deluge.ca Thursday to Saturday, 12 to 5pm If this is paradise I wish I had a lawnmower – Talking Heads, 1988 The title for this exhibition is taken from the Greek term, Ou-topos; Ou (not) and Topos (a place). The term Utopos holds two other meanings: the first being “the good place” and the second “the place that cannot be.” In the Talking Heads song “Nothing but Flowers,” David Byrne’s lyrics follow a similar path by embodying this shared meaning of Utopos, where yes, the grass really is greener on the other side of the fence, but, upon reflection, neither greens—nor grass for that matter—are all they were cracked up to be. Be careful what you wish for. You might get it and regret it. The notion of a Utopia, a perfect community or civilization designed for perfection and autonomy can only, in essence, exist in the imagination or conceptually. It is by humankind’s very existence that renders the reality of this endeavour impossible. Yet, it is a concept that is constantly strived for, as is evident within the current socio-political climate, and with trends of populism, nationalism and retrenchment. The paradox is that while striving for this idealistic model of a Utopia, humans actually move closer to that of the antonym of this condition in Dystopia—a community or society that is undesirable or frightening. There was a factory Now there are mountains and rivers You got it, you got it. There was a shopping mall Now it’s all covered with flowers You’ve got it, you’ve got it. If this is paradise I wish I had a lawnmower For this exhibition, Callum Monteith and Alex Tedlie-Stursberg will present a new body of work that considers the contradictory nature of the term Utopos. Through the development of their shared research interests including the relationship between humans and nature, explorations into artificiality, manicuring of environments and abstracted or absurd artistic gestures, Monteith and Stursberg challenge the conditions of Utopia. Their research has advanced through an open and wide-ranging dialogue between the artists that looks to many topics for inspiration, including pop-culture, sociological/philosophical studies, art history and fictional narratives. Callum Monteith (b. 1988) lives and works in Glasgow, Scotland, where he works in painting, photography and printmaking. Monteith’s practice interweaves notions of nature, philosophy and aesthetics with a particular interest in how we construct our ideas of self through fictions of alternative places or imagined landscapes. Recent exhibitions include solo exhibitions Shelf Show #3 at Cockburn Street, Edinburgh, PARADISAL at The Briggait, Glasgow and PLANT ROOM, a group exhibition at Hanson Street Project Space, also in Glasgow (2019).Alex Tedlie-Stursberg (b.1980) lives and works in Vancouver, BC, where he is a multidisciplinary artist with a key focus on sculpture and installation. His work has been exhibited in numerous galleries across North America and Europe; recent exhibitions include MASS RESIDUE with Field Contemporary and SUPER, NATURAL, a group exhibition at Unit 17, Vancouver (2019), Holy Wave as part of Glasgow International, Scotland and Everything Flows with Burrard Art Foundation, Vancouver (2018). Stursberg is currently employed as a Sessional Instructor at Langara College Visual Arts Program. He is currently developing public artworks for Ballard Fine Art in Vancouver.Andrea Valentine-Lewis (b.1991) is an independent curator and freelance writer based in Vancouver. She is a recent graduate from McGill University with an MA in Art History concentrating on ecological contemporary art and countervisuality. She is grateful that her research was funded with a Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship (SSHRC) for the 2019-2020 academic year. In late 2019, Valentine-Lewis curated Green Piece, a solo exhibition for Andrew Dadson at Unit 17, Vancouver. COVID protocols in place.
  3. Posted September 9, 2020 Image: "Upside Down and Inside Out" by Jeanne Cannizzo, mixed media The literary and visual arts come together in Stanzas, a city-wide poem. Go to story
  4. The literary and visual arts come together in Stanzas, a city-wide poem Concrete is Porous: the anchoring stanza Kegan McFadden, executive director of the Victoria Arts Council, is excited about the new, city-wide Stanzas exhibit running in September and October. With a background in both visual arts and creative writing, he says such an exhibit, bringing the two together, has always been a dream of his. That dream was about to come to fruition last April, but was covid-cancelled. Now, with some adjustments, it’s set for relaunch in early September with 6 galleries and 75 artists involved. Community partners include arc.hive, errant artSpace, Empty Gallery, the Ministry of Casual Living, Vancouver Island School of Art, Planet Earth Poetry, the Victoria Festival of Authors, and the Greater Victoria Public Libraries. Each organization takes a different tack in exploring the intersections and overlaps of visual arts and language. These are the “stanzas,” the paragraphs in a city-wide poem. The anchor exhibit at the Victoria Arts Council Gallery, “Concrete is Porous,” will feature what’s known as concrete poetry, a way of using text in which the visual or graphical is more important than the meaning of the words. The medium pares down language to its elements of letters and syllables which the artists play with visually. The art form stems back to the 1960s and this exhibit, bringing together established older poets with emerging ones, shows that concrete poetry is alive and well. Originally shown in Toronto, it is curated by Hart Broudy and bill bissett and features work by 28 preeminent Canadian poets. bpNichol’s ground-breaking digital chapbook First Screening, published via floppy disk, in featured, along with works by bill bissett and Paul Dutton. Aram Saroyan’s controversial 1965 one-word poem—“the most expensive poem ever published”— “lighght” will also be among those on display. Viewers will see three types of concrete poetry: visual, phonetic, and kinetic—or optic, sound, and movement. Typewriters are sometimes employed and/or digitally generated concrete enhancements, with the overall aim, according to Mary Ellen Solt in Concrete Poetry: A World View, to “relieve the poem of its burden of ideas, symbolic reference, allusion and repetitious emotional content; of its servitude to disciplines outside itself and to be an object in its own right for its own sake.” McFadden has complemented the exhibit by including additional work by five artists from the West Coast, including internationally-recognized Vancouver Island artist Michael Morris. There will also be what McFadden describes as a chandelier-like installation in the gallery’s “Vault” space by Victoria-based poet-artist-librarian Christine Walde. Walde has used the lyrics from Joy Division’s iconic 1980 song “Love Will Tear Us Apart”—a song she listened to a lot as a teenager. She printed out the lyrics, tore them apart, and composed a number of poems from them in a new order—a pun on the band New Order, which was formed by the remaining members of Joy Division after lead singer Ian Curtis’ tragic suicide in 1980. Walde says, “My intention in working with this song and within these conceptual constraints is not only to present the lyrics in a visual way, but to make the song sound new in the present eyes and ears of the audience.” For Concrete is Porous, the lyrics have been 3D-printed and hung as a mobile of interconnecting words in three-dimensional space, bringing a new kind of order to the work that is both transient and ephemeral. Concrete is Porous.m4v View 6 works in the Concrete is Porous exhibit (60 seconds) McFadden also points to the work of Jordan Abel, a Nisga’a writer from Vancouver, as a highlight of the exhibit. The author of The Place of Scraps (winner of the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize), Un/inhabited, and Injun (winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize), Abel’s latest project, NISHGA (McClelland & Stewart in 2021), is a deeply personal, autobiographical book that attempts to address the complications of contemporary Indigenous existence and intergenerational impact of residential schools. The forthcoming book, says Abel, explores “how the colonial violence originating at the Coqualeetza Indian Residential School impacted my grandparents’ generation, then my father’s generation, and ultimately my own. The project is rooted in a desire to illuminate the realities of intergenerational survivors of residential school, but sheds light on Indigenous experiences that may not seem to be immediately (or inherently) Indigenous.” Excerpts from NISHGA, printed in graphic shapes that, says McFadden, “re-appropriate Jordan’s father’s own imagery,” blanket the entrance to the VAC gallery. Cree poet Neil McLeod, states of Abel’s work, “his work creates a poetics of anti-colonial space and consciousness—a space where a new and vibrant Indigenous poetic consciousness can emerge. He is one of the most exciting and innovative Indigenous poets of our time.” Concrete is Porous runs Sept 4 to Oct 24 at the Victoria Arts Council Gallery, 1800 Store Street, Tues-Sat, noon-5pm. 778-533-7123, vicartscouncil.ca A stanza in conTEXT at errant artSpace The artist-run gallery errant ArtSpace is contributing a stanza to Stanzas in the shape of conTEXT, featuring mostly local artists exploring—through painting, drawing and sculpture—text as printing, handwriting, calligraphy, sound, letters and words. Co-curators Jane Coombe and Ira Hoffecker write, “The visual and language arts have always been close partners. The first pictograph was both an image and an emerging form of written communication. Ancient Asian calligraphy and western illustrated manuscripts made no distinction between visual and verbal language. From the early Cubists, modern and contemporary art has embraced words and letters for both meaning and aesthetic value—from critiques of commerce and advertising to the street level interventions of anonymous graffiti artists.” Hoffecker is interested in how different societies transform and change city spaces over the course of centuries. Though painting is her primary medium, for this exhibit she is presenting a sound piece in which the voices and different languages of five artists are “layered” together, to explore patterns and identities. Another artist presenting in conTEXT is Anne Petrie. Her work uses the words in some of the first directives we hear as young children—Sit Down, Sit Up, Sit Straight and Sit Still—to show how meaning depends on context. “These casual orders are intended to contain our energy; their usual effect is to frustrate our desires. And yet, their discipline helps us to survive, even grow.” By using long scrolls of paper and gradating tones of type she explores how “These once inhibiting prescriptive phrases can now be experienced as moving with us through different phases—from the command to do as we are told to the suggestion of an opportunity to pause, rest and reflect. A once external demand can become an internalized choice.” In her work in the exhibit, co-curator Jane Coombe presents an abstract sculptural installation and hand written canvases that reflect the essence and words of Pablo Neruda’s poem, “In Praise of Ironing,” “a poem which speaks to everyday work, its power to transform things, the nature around us and how words can transform our thinking…My intention for conTEXT is about valuing the importance of my artistic practice, process and daily work.” The only non-local artist in the exhibit is Rachel Epp Buller, a feminist art historian, printmaker, book artist and professor at Bethel College in Kansas. Much of her artistic, written, and curatorial work has addressed the maternal body and feminist care in contemporary art contexts. Currently researching handwritten letter-writing as an act of relational care, she says, “I have come to think of letters not only as a way of exchanging thoughts and ideas but also as a form of active listening. Letters are an invitation to listen, almost a contractual agreement of care for another person. I believe that such listening is directly connected to a slowing down, a taking time to take care…The letters I write and receive inspire drawings, artist books, letterpress prints, epistolary texts, audio narratives, and embroidery, drawing attention to the ways we care for each other with our words.” Other artists included in conTEXT are Lorraine Douglas, Richard Pawley, John Luna, Farid Abdulbaki, Jeanne Cannizzo, and Kathy Guthrie. conTEXT.m4v View 9 works in the conTEXT exhibit (90 seconds) Errant artSpace is also presenting an afternoon of ekphrastic poetry—poems written in response to specific works of art. John Luna is both a visual artist and a widely published poet. He and Gisela Ruebsaat, who has published and performed her award-winning ekphrastic poetry locally and internationally, will be presenting work that they have developed in response to specific pieces from the conTEXT exhibition. There will also be an opportunity for guests to actively engage with the art by developing their own written responses. This event will be held in errant’s parking lot to maintain safe distancing, September 12 at 3 pm. Luna, whose practice includes painting, installation, poetry and critical writing as well as teaching visual art and art history, is also giving a free Zoom talk entitled “The Speaking Surface: Text and Embodiment in Painting” on Saturday, September 19, 7pm-9:30, focusing on the overlap between visual art and the written word and how one influences the other. (Register at info@vancouverislandschoolofart.com) ConTEXT runs from Sept 12-27, weekends only 12-5pm, at errant Art Space, 975 Alston Street, Victoria. The Ekphrastic Poetry Event is Sept 12 at 3pm. See https://errantartspace.com. An ekphrasis stanza at arc•hive The artist-run centre arc•hive is offering an online exhibition featuring responses from nine poets to the work of its nine studio artists. Arranged in a chapbook edited by former Victoria Poet Laureate Yvonne Blomer, each visual piece—whether a painting, sculpture, drawing or photograph—is accompanied by an audio poem. Being able to hear the poet read his or her own ekphrastic work adds a wonderful dimension to the experience. Cover of the chapbook ekphrasis Curator Regan Rasmussen explains, “This collaborative exhibition/chapbook event was originally intended to take place at arc•hive in April, but due to the pandemic we decided to launch a virtual exhibition including the artwork with audio recordings of the poets reading.” The visual artists included are Alison Bigg, Markus Drassl, Laura Feeleus, Karina Kalvaitis, Kimberley Leslie, Connie Michele Morey, Regan Rasmussen, Jenn Wilson, Sandy Voldeng. The poets responding to the works of these artists include John Barton (Victoria Poet Laureate 2019-22), Yvonne Blomer, Michelle Poirier Brown, Rhonda Ganz, Cynthia Woodman Kerkham, Anita Lahey, Garth Martens, Emily Olsen and Aziza Moqia Sealey-Qaylow (Victoria Youth Poet Laureate 2019). Writing in the chapbook’s introduction, Blomer says, “Here, led by the visual art, poets have entered their own thought and dream-spaces, their own realities. They have contemplated the ideas and processes of the artists, and let their words twin, like braided hair and like woven cloth, into poems both unique and linked.” Poet Anita Lahey describes the ekphrastic responses as “…poems that crackle with energy that derives from bonified collisions, in this case those between poet and artist; consciousness and creation; eye and canvas; word and picture; heart and heart…” arc.hive is at 2516 Bridge Street in Victoria. See the chapbook at https://arc-hivearc.org/ekphrasis/. Other “stanzas” in the city-wide STANZAS are: Micah Lexier at Empty Gallery, 833 Fisgard, Sept 1-30; jg Muir’s interactive Keyboard 2.0 at The Ministry of Casual Living in Oden Alley, Sept 1-30; Victoria Festival of Authors runs online September 30-October 4; and LINE/break: a curatorial roundtable at Victoria Arts Council, Oct 24, 3 pm.
  5. September 3, 2020 A “ DEMAGOGUE,” states Wikipedia, “is a leader who gains popularity in a democracy by exploiting emotions, prejudice, and ignorance to arouse some against others, whipping up the passions of the crowd and shutting down reasoned deliberation.” Reading further, we find the “methods” of a demagogue include scapegoating, fear mongering, lying, promising the impossible, personal insults and ridicule, accusing the opposition of weakness and disloyalty, folksy posturing, gross oversimplification, and attacking the news media. Now who does that fit to a T? The news is unsettling these days, especially from south of the 49th. Trump manages to turn things upside down, claiming he is the candidate for law and order—all the while fanning the flames to create social unrest, with his followers turning peaceful protests into deadly ones. Hopefully, November will usher him out, but unfortunately, I don’t think we can count on that. Even if he’s not elected, he will try to hold onto power. On the homefront, the news is very different, yet unsettling as well. In recent weeks, Dr Henry has been reporting growing numbers of new cases of COVID-19 in BC, often 100 or more. It will likely mean further delays in reopening our economy and institutions. As I wrote in my editorial, I am particularly frustrated with not being able to see my 92-year-old mother, who is in a long-term care home, due to what I believe are overly restrictive COVID visitation rules which themselves risk our well-being. And the news about Victoria’s homeless situation, with the encampments in Beacon Hill Park, Central Park and elsewhere is also jarring. It seems that a panoply of drugs, including fentanyl, were conveniently available from tents in Centennial Square, before 17 people were charged with drug trafficking and campers forced to move—into other local parks. Mayor Helps says the feds need to come up with more money for supportive housing for the roughly 300 who are camping in City of Victoria parks. Of course, that’s not likely to happen soon enough for most Victorians. (See the passionate letter from a reader who lives adjacent to Beacon Hill Park.) Should the City revert to enforcing its bylaw requiring campers to pack up their belongings every morning? It would be great to hear readers’ view on this—or any other ideas they have towards solutions. As an antidote to my daily ingestion of such news, I am blessed to be able to head into the forest or to my small veggie garden here on Quadra Island. For most of my 25 years of gardening here the garden has to do without me for weeks at a time when we are in Victoria. We set up an automatic watering system and pray that it doesn’t fail during those dry days of most summers. This year it’s all different thanks to both our full-time “pandemic residency” and the wet weather in June and through mid-July. Garlic is hands-down my best crop. I started many years ago with a few varieties including a Russian Red I originally got from garden and garlic expert Dan Jason of Salt Spring Seeds (he has numerous books worth checking out). The Russian Red thrived in our soil and ever since I have replanted about 120 cloves of my biggest bulbs. I’ve never had a failure and generally harvest big juicy bulbs that last us close to the entire year, even with gifting to friends and family. 2020’s Russian Red garlic Other crops supply us too—starting with greens in the spring, and continuing through the winter with root crops and squash. As with most years there are surprises, both pleasant and otherwise. This year, my giant purple cabbages count among the former. But what to do with it all? I can make some sauerkraut, but not that much. My squash this year seem small and few, but that is the only disappointment this year. Last year it was rats that posed all the challenge; they had shown up on this property two years ago. My first broccoli seedlings got eaten to soil level. With my second attempt, I tried plastic collars and netting which seemed to work for a while, but then when the heads started to form, they got chomped. As did my ripening tomatoes. And then they started gnawing at my beets—aggressively—and any potatoes near the surface. This year, after an early planting of spinach and chard got chomped to the quick, I read up on deterrence suggestions online. One involved simply sprinkling chopped onion around as “all rodents hate onion smells.” I donated a couple of onions to the cause, and then collected our scraps from onion and garlic in a plastic bag and regularly refreshed the sprinkling. It worked! Aiding the cause, we now allow our two one-year-old cats to hang out in the fenced-in garden area regularly (we don’t allow our cats free range out of concern for the birds). That seems to be enough. The rats have moved on. I keep a garden diary each gardening season, a helpful aid to my imperfect memory. It includes a rudimentary map of where each crop is so I can make sure to change things up the next year as is recommended for avoiding certain diseases and pests. I keep track of when I fertilized different crops, and record how different things are doing along with my guesses as to why. As you can see, the garden gives me plenty of ways to take my mind off all those news items mentioned above, with the added bonus of feeding us. That so many others have been turned onto the gifts of gardening through the pandemic is a significant silver lining. I welcome your response, either as a comment below or privately through the “Contact Us” button at the bottom of this page.
  6. Thank you Garth for responding here. It would be more helpful to the conversation around this topic if you could explain your reservations about the ideas expressed in the op-ed, rather than calling them ridiculous and idiocy.
  7. Posted August 28, 2020 Image: The author and her sisters visit their mom Jade at the James Bay Care Centre, pre-COVID 19 The one-visitor limit for care home residents, along with a lack of outings and other stimulation, could well be posing a greater risk than the coronavirus. Go to story
  8. The one-visitor limit for care home residents, along with a lack of outings and other stimulation, could well be posing a greater risk than the coronavirus. TWO MONTHS AGO, on June 30, the BC government announced a “relaxation” of their essential-visitor-only policy for long-term care facilities that had been in place since the pandemic’s first victims in the province in March. The earlier no-visitor policy had caused much anguish among elders and their families, but it’s debatable that the new, still highly-restrictive rules are much better. The policy, which went into practice in mid-July, allows one family member to visit by appointment and with many precautions in place. Promises were made to reassess these restrictions in August (“the hope is to be able to expand this to safely include other family members or friends going forward”), yet as of August 26, that hasn’t happened, or if it has, nothing has been changed. What did happen on August 26 was Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie stepping forward to launch a survey of care-home residents and their family members around the visitation rules in particular. More on that in a moment. I understand the Ministry of Health orders are in force to protect our vulnerable elders, as well as the essential workers who staff nursing homes, but there are serious flaws in the policy and its application—and they are causing a lot of heartache for a lot of people. The current rules allow only one person from the family (or one friend) to visit. Not one person at a time, but one person period—the “designated visitor.” For my own family it meant a difficult choice. My 92-year-old mother Jade lives in James Bay Care Centre. Which of her three daughters would take on the role? In the end, we decided for various reasons that my Vancouver-based sister Brenda, would do so. We assumed, incorrectly as it turns out, that we could switch the designated visitor from time to time, or that they would soon, after getting the bugs worked out of the new system with one visitor, allow more designated visitors per family. My two sisters and I get along well, and but it’s easy to imagine that for many families, choosing that one and only visitor poses serious issues. The frequency of allowed visits was left up to each facility. Brenda has visited as much as she has been allowed to—every other week since late July. That means only 3 visits so far. Jade, who has been a trooper through it all, is now showing signs of losing heart. She asks, “Will I ever get to see my whole family again?” and “What’s it like out there?” She was crying at the end of Brenda’s last visit despite my sister’s attempts to be cheerful. Leslie Campbell (l) and her sisters Brenda and Karen on a pre-COVID visit with Jade at her home in James Bay Care Centre (Photo: Serge D’Allaire) Jade is unable to walk but she can think, read, and communicate well. She spends much of her time reading books and the daily newspaper. She understands that COVID could be with us for a very long time. Will she ever be able to see not just her other daughters, but others she loves—her son-in-laws, her sister-in-law Marlene, her friend Julie? With BC’s COVID case numbers on the rise recently, running between 60 to 100 new cases per day, it seems less likely that my family’s assumptions about a relaxation of rules will work out any time soon. And Jade’s mental and emotional health is beginning to suffer from the isolation and lack of stimulation. Pre-COVID, Jade was used to getting out on a weekly basis or more. With my husband David pushing her in her wheelchair, we would go to a park, or Downtown or along Dallas Road to the breakwater. We’d visit cafés and shops or just take a thermos of tea, with China tea cups and sweets, and enjoy them in the sunshine. With Jade bundled up, we could do this even on a sunny January day in a favourite sun trap on Dallas. My sisters and brother-in-law Serge, who came over for a long weekend each month, spent the majority of their time with Jade, whether in her room or out and about. So mom had lots of engagement with her family and the community despite her lack of mobility. But for six months now, all such activity has been completely off limits. She really misses the togetherness and the sight-seeing, as do we. Also prohibited are residents’ regular bus outings. At James Bay Care Centre, residents were taken in a Handi-dart bus for scenic drives through the area, usually stopping at a beachfront like Willows to be served tea and cookies on the bus. But the Ministry of Health has recommended that care homes “limit outings to essential medical appointments only to reduce the potential risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the community.” My sister Karen notes that besides the lack of visitors, “With enrichment programs like the bus trips, visiting entertainers, and parties with other floors all cancelled, it’s really too prison-like when it’s supposed to be their home. It’s been six months of lockdown, so given Mom and other residents’ ages, there needs to be more stimulation. Maybe some approved volunteers or designated family members could take wheelchair-bound residents for a walk with an abundance of PPE…” Though the staff do get residents into the garden at Jade’s home fairly regularly—a huge blessing for her—the weather won’t permit that much longer. My heart breaks when I think how confined Jade is, how lacking in a change of scenery. A whole six months has gone by where she’s had exactly no outings and three short visits. At James Bay Care Centre, only one 45-minute visit per resident is allowed every other week. We have been able to do some Zoom visits with staff help, but it’s not the same. Just to be clear, my sisters and I attach no blame to the staff at my mom’s care home. In her two-and-a-half years there, they have proven to be impressively competent, compassionate, cheerful and helpful, even now when stretched and stressed trying to keep up with the extra work involved with COVID policies. We certainly want rules in place that help protect staff members. But as my sister Karen says, “I understand the government needs to protect the staff, but staff get to go home after their shifts and see their family and friends. Residents don’t.” I WAS IN THE MIDST of writing this piece when the Seniors Advocate for BC, Isobel Mackenzie, launched her new survey around the visitation rules directed at families like my own with an elder in care. She seems to have a good understanding of the situation: “Of the many hardships that COVID-19 has brought, one of the most heartbreaking has been the need to limit those who can visit residents of long-term care and assisted living,” said Mackenzie. “Restricting visitors…has been an enormous sacrifice for our seniors and their families, but it has been necessary for us to protect those who are most vulnerable to this virus. The impact however is having a profound effect on many people and it is time for these people to have their voices heard and their stories told.” While we would all no doubt prefer no deaths from coronavirus in our loved ones, she pointed out at her news conference, it’s important to look at the “totality of impacts.” Since March, when the first COVID outbreak occurred in a mainland care home, 46 care homes of the total 560 in BC have had outbreaks—about 8 percent (not one of them on Vancouver Island). “We need a balance,” she said. “Yes, we want to keep people safe from COVID-19, but what are we keeping them safe for if it is not to enjoy what is the rest of their life? And for some, their only enjoyment is the time that they can spend with their loved ones.” Some statistics help put the risks in perspective. There are 40,000 people living in BC’s care facilities. Of the 355 residents who have contracted the coronavirus, 123 have died of it (233 staff have been infected with COVID-19 with no deaths). But during the same period of six months, Mackenzie pointed out, more than 2,000 longterm and assisted living residents died of other causes. “What was life like for them and their loved ones in the final months, weeks and days?” she asked. The simple math of it is that unless restrictions ease, many families will lose their elders in care without seeing them at all during their final months—or years even— given that this virus will be with us for another year or more. Mackenzie is rightfully concerned about the impacts on the well-being of both the residents and their family members (a lot of whom are seniors themselves). At this point in residents’ lives, family is a critical factor in their over-all well-being. While COVID deaths in BC care homes are high percentage-wise—61 percent of the 204 total deaths in BC—what else could be expected given that population’s age and infirmities? That percentage is also a reflection of the skill with which Dr Henry has kept COVID at bay throughout the general population, not to mention the skills of health workers in treating COVID patients. At her news conference, Mackenzie noted that while the one-visitor policy is province-wide, the frequency, duration and nature of the visits vary widely from facility to facility. My mom’s facility allows 45-minute visits every two weeks in a sterile room. Other facilities allow them more frequently, but others only monthly depending on staffing issues. This despite the fact that the Province has provided funding for four full-time equivalent positions for each care home to facilitate visits and the extra precautions needed. (Temperature checks, sanitization, and masks are de rigeur.) In BC, it doesn’t matter that not one Vancouver Island nursing home has had one COVID-19 case, or that there have been only 173 cases in total here on the Island as of August 27—as opposed to the 1,737 cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region and 2,818 in the Fraser Health region. Perhaps we should take a more nuanced, geographical approach. In Washington State, for instance, different counties are in different phases of “re-opening” depending on the number of COVID cases—and care home visitation policies vary accordingly. I am not advocating a free-for-all expansion of visitation and outings. But allowing more family members to visit, setting a standard or minimum frequency for allowed visits (e.g. weekly), and permitting some carefully planned outings, would be a good start towards a balanced approach. As Mackenzie has noted, there is no situation that is risk free. While there is a risk to opening up, there are also risks to not relaxing restrictions for care homes. The survey, Staying Apart to Stay Safe: The Impact of Visitor Restrictions on Long Term Care and Assisted Living, is asking residents and family members about their experiences before the pandemic and how these have been impacted over the past seven months. The survey is anonymous. It can be completed until September 30, is available at www.carehomevisits.ca Leslie Campbell is the editor of FOCUS.
  9. July 3, 2020 THE FOREST AROUND OUR QUADRA ISLAND HAVEN is aglow right now with droopy white plumes of ocean spray (Holodiscus discolor), ruby-jewelled salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis) and huckleberry (Vaccinium parvifolium). I feel so lucky to have been here through the full pandemic-infused spring as I have been able to watch and photograph each stage of these plants’ evolution from bare branches through the unfurling of their leaves, blossoming of their flowers and swelling of their berries. The salmonberries and huckleberries are plump and juicy, thanks to copious rain over the past few weeks. I have been picking them regularly to use on my oatmeal in the morning, but now that the huckleberries are ripe, I am thinking more ambitiously about pies and preserves. Mostly, I am enthusiastic about such kitchen production because it gives me an excuse to hang out in the forest. I find berry picking among the most calming, meditative-yet-productive things to do. Red Huckleberry Ocean Spray The three plants mentioned above are very common in Douglas fir forests. All were relied on by native people who lived here pre-colonization. The ocean spray has very hard wood, which, according to Pojar & MacKinnon’s Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast, was used for spears and tools by First Nations. The seeds were eaten as well. The berries of huckleberry and salmonberry, of course, were eaten fresh as well as preserved, as were those of salal (Gaulthoria shallon). Many birds, squirrels and bears in Vancouver Island forests eat the berries as well. The red-berried huckleberry was one of the few plant species to survive on the slopes of Mount St Helens when the volcano erupted in 1980, according to Wikipedia. In local forests it loves to grow on rotting logs and old tree stumps. Salal berries will ripen later in summer. They produce an intensely flavourful purply-black jam I love. I hear they are also really good for making fruit leather, which I might attempt to make this year. It will give me another excuse to hang out quietly, with sticky fingers, in the forest. These plants all seem very hardy and abundant. But the forests they depend on are getting mowed down at an alarming rate. When I hike into the backwoods of Quadra Island, I see clearcut after clearcut. (Satellite images show the same patchwork look all over BC.) Up close, a new clearcut is a hell-scape, with wide roads blasted through rock, a desiccated, scraped terrain littered with “course woody debris” (former tree limbs), and stump after stump of “harvested fibre.” Speaking of harvested fibre—or “feedstock,” see Michelle Connolly’s excellent piece on this site, “Words Hide Truth,” about the Orwellian, euphemistic language employed by BC’s Ministry of Forests et al. The government’s deliberate rebranding of natural forests as commodities helps discourage our awareness and defence of forests as complex living systems. Unfortunately, not enough of us are able to get out and witness the contrast between a clearcut and an intact forest. On Quadra, there are many examples side-by-side, providing for a mind-bending contrast. I certainly cannot recognize a forest I’ve visited before, formerly graced with dense, towering trees, carpeted with moss and my favourite bushes, after it’s been mowed down by the industrial machinery now used. It’s a stark lesson in the rapacious, absurd behaviour of our species. For further elucidation on the BC government’s appalling stewardship of our once-magnificent forests, read David Broadland’s recent analysis (along with many readers’ comments) of the financial realities of the forest-industrial complex. It appears the BC taxpayer is getting shafted along with the forests we love. I think I need to get back to berry-picking… I welcome your response, either as a comment below or privately through the “Contact Us” button at the bottom of this page. If you are taking photos of native plants and animals, you might be interested in our Mapping Nature project, here.
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    Bastion Square Artisans Market Saturday & Sundays 11:00am - 4:30pm until September 27, 2020 We are located in Bastion Square every Saturday and Sunday, 11:00am-4:30pm. Shop locally-made from local artisans in downtown Victoria’s only outdoor artisans market! COMMUNITY EVENT · CRAFTS · SHOPPING & FASHION 56 Bastion Square Victoria, BC
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    “Molten”: Encaustic Group ShowFeaturing works by Alanna Sparanese, Brenda Walker, Lynn Harnish The Gallery At Matticks Farm Inc.109-5325 Cordova BayVictoria, BC V8Y 2L3Phone: (250) 658-8333 https://www.thegalleryatmatticksfarm.com
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    2020 VIRTUAL VICTORIA FLAMENCO FESTIVAL July 23 to 26, 2020 Please visit www.victoriaflamencofestival.com for information regarding virtual show times and links. Cost: Free, donations accepted at www.victoriaflamencofestival.com The Flamenco de la Isla Society has come to the difficult decision, given the current COVID-19 situation, to suspend all physical in-person events at the 2020 Victoria Flamenco Festival. We feel it is important to do our part to keep artists, audience, and our community safe. We are currently working to bring you virtual festival. Our commitment to Flamenco on Vancouver Island remains strong and we encourage you to reach out if you have any questions: info@victoriaflamencofestival.com Thank you for your ongoing support! 2020 VIRTUAL VICTORIA FLAMENCO FESTIVAL Experience southern Spain at the 8th Annual Victoria Flamenco Festival on July 23-26 where artists from across Canada, Spain, and Mexico perform bold and haunting rhythms through dance, song, guitar, and percussion. Enjoy FREE on-line shows. The Virtual Victoria Flamenco Festival is hosted by the Flamenco de la Isla Society.
  13. The Vancouver Writers Fest andToronto International Festival of Authors presentDavid Mitchell in Conversation withLisa Christiansen$45 includes access to exclusive online event, a copy ofUtopia Avenue and shipping. The first 300 people to order will also receive a signed bookplate.Sunday, July 26 at 4:00pm PDT / 7:00pm EDT TICKETS
  14. LAILA BIALI TRIO Live/Livestream Victoria Performance Date: Saturday, July 25, 2020 – 7:30pm (doors open 6:30pm) Venue: Victoria Event Centre 1415 Broad St Tickets: $30 advance only On sale Tuesday, July 14 at 10am Tickets purchased online at: www.victoriaeventcentre.ca CBC’s Saturday Night Jazz host Laila Biali returns to Victoria for a special evening concert, this time to showcase songs from her brand new 2020 album, Out of Dust. This Juno-award winning singer, pianist, and songwriter last played in Victoria with her trio at TD Victoria International JazzFest 2019. Her upcoming performance at Victoria Event Centre with Jodi Proznick bassand Ben Wittman drums promises a night of stunning live music that has been dearly missed for months. Opening the evening will be the duo of Wes Carroll guitar and Phil Albert bass. The performance will be also livestreamed via Twitch and Victoria Jazz Society’s Facebook page. Donations may be made to the Victoria Jazz Society to support the VJS’s Jazz Alive! Summer Pop-Ups in Victoria this summer, as well as future VJS presentations. To donate, please visit: https://jazzvictoria.ca/society/make-donation If you attend, bear in mind health and safety protocols of wearing a mask (at the request of the artist) and keeping six feet apart from those who aren’t in your household/immediate social circle. Due to COVID-19, there will be a limit of 50 tickets available for purchase. Tickets must be purchased in table packages of 4-6 in order to adhere to physical distance protocols. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Please visit https://www.victoriaeventcentre.ca/covid19/ to familiarize with current Victoria Event Centre COVID-19 practices. The livestream will be available at: https://www.twitch.tv/victoriaeventcentre CLICK HERE TO VISIT TICKET PAGE CLICK HERE FOR LIVESTREAM
  15. Posted July 7, 2020 Image: Cruise ships have been visiting Victoria since the 1990s. The coronavirus crashed our growth-dependant economy just as the global community was figuring out how to shift to an economy that doesn't destabilize climate or threaten biodiversity. How will Victoria respond? Go to story
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