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Watters’ culturally modified grad cap in permanent NYC museum display

It was a delight to interview shíshálh cedar weaver Shyanne (“Shy”) Watters for Sunshine Coast Life magazine. Shy’s unique cedar hats range from a sasquatch version with long black hair to a red-dress-themed one honouring Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women. Shy is perhaps best known for her culturally modified graduation cap whose pattern reflects ocean…

Speaking from the heart: ch’elkwilwet (Raquel Joe)
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Speaking from the heart: ch’elkwilwet (Raquel Joe)

I interviewed and photographed ch’elkwilwet (Raquel Joe), shíshálh Nation councillor, teacher and weaver, for the summer 2023 issue of Sunshine Coast Life magazine. It was fascinating to learn more of the history of the shíshálh people through their museum artifact kikilim lhe tan (The Grieving Mother), the burial site containing 4,000-year-old remains of a chief…

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Heritage Week event goes ahead despite snowstorm

A snowstorm didn’t stop our Feb. 25 Heritage Week literary event, held at the Sunshine Coast Museum and Archives in Gibsons. I enjoyed giving a presentation about Muriel Wylie Blanchet, author of the classic West Coast boating tale The Curve of Time. Many thanks to Michael Gurney of The Coast Reporter for his coverage of the…

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Delivered BC Heritage Week talk Feb. 25 on author Muriel Wylie Blanchet

As part of BC Heritage Week, I enjoyed sharing readings from The Curve of Time on Feb. 25 and telling a Gibsons, BC audience about some of the eccentricities of author Muriel Wylie Blanchet. For instance, she had emphysema and defied her doctor, who wanted her to move out of her cold, drafty house near…

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Online memories shared regarding my Ubyssey editing days

What influence did university journalism and the UBC student newspaper The Ubyssey have on my life and career? I explain, and reminisce, in a new online series of Q&As, part of the Hundred Year Trek project. (The Great Trek was a huge event in Vancouver, BC in 1922, whereby hundreds of students, supported by many…

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New anthology contains my creative nonfiction essay “Navigating the cosmos”

I’m delighted to be part of the anthology honouring the Beachcombers 50th Anniversary. This collection, officially released on Oct. 1, 2022, marks a half-century after the iconic Canadian TV show, The Beachcombers, started. It contains poetry, fiction, and nonfiction from BC Sunshine Coast writers and a tribute to the show’s actor, the late Pat John,…

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Catch my literary readings Aug. 12, 13 at Arts & Words in Davis Bay, BC

I’m delighted to present new literary material, inspired by a painting by Gibsons artist Paula O’Brien, at the inaugural Arts & Words event in Davis Bay on Aug. 12 and 13. My Aug. 12 reading, in the 10:30 to noon time slot, is generously sponsored by Canada Council through the Writers’ Union of Canada. The…

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Candace Campo celebrates her Indigenous history, culture and ancestors through Talaysay Tours

I profiled and photographed Candace Campo, co-founder of Talaysay Tours and a shishalh Nation member, for the winter 2022 issue of Sunshine Coast Life Magazine. Each year, her First Nations ecotour company hosts visitors from around the globe, introducing them to Pacific Northwest Indigenous culture, history, ancestors, local flora and fauna, and the spiritual significance…

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Discover what Kashmir under curfew felt like in 1990

Rocket launchers blast through a night sky as clashing rebel groups exchange fire in India’s contentious Kashmir region. My then-partner and I huddle on the bow of a cozy houseboat on Dal Lake. Find out what it was like to be there under curfew in my travel essay Two Realities. It appears in the debut…

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Jessica Silvey weaves the legacy of ancestors in cedar

    It was a delight to profile Jessica Silvey, who’s shíshálh and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) with the ancestral name Kwahama Kwatleematt, and has been weaving cedar baskets, hats, and décor for more than 30 years. I profiled her, the owner of Red Cedar Woman studio, as the cover story for the winter 2021 issue of…

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New trail signs to honour value of old-growth forest and shíshálh heritage

I am delighted to have worked as an editor on a new series of interpretive signs for the Community Health Trail on Mt. Elphinstone on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast. As part of an initiative by Elphinstone Logging Focus (ELF), the signs highlight the importance of old-growth forests and their flora and fauna. With himus (Calvin…

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Métis, Indigenous, and Inuit lives profiled

Did you know that some residents of Churchill, Manitoba consider Thanadelthur, an early 1700s Chipewyan guide and peace negotiator, the founder of their town? That is one of the many fascinating historical facts I learned while writing profiles of accomplished Métis, Indigenous, and Inuit people for Canadian Encyclopedia. I discovered the many achievements of politicians…

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Havana weeks before Fidel died: Mafia history still looms

      Few people realize how much the Mafia shaped the economy of Havana for more than 30 years. While visiting Cuba’s capital in October-November 2016, I relished the chance to learn more about the country’s illegal past. My December 9, 2016 travel feature Havana Travel article 2016 (Coast Reporter) reveals some tidbits of…

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Register now for my new Oct. 5 course on writing historical nonfiction

Have you always wanted to write a family history but felt overwhelmed? Thought of writing a memoir but didn’t know how to start? Would you like to document the highlights of your organization’s past? I’ll be sharing both practical and inspirational tips — and how to avoid research pitfalls — in my new Vancouver School…

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RESIDENTIAL SCHOOLS: A new book rewrites Sir John A. Macdonald’s role in Canada’s history

Most Canadians consider Sir John A. Macdonald, the nation’s first prime minister, as “the Father of Confederation.” But this crusty politician, an ancestor of mine on my mother’s side, might well be called “father of residential schools.”   Want to learn how his policies launched aboriginal children into decades of forced assimilation and abuse? Read my opinion piece “Macdonald’s legacy not…

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The Making of Tetrahedron Park: how the conservation movement started on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast

“The Making of Tetrahedron Park” (my 3,000-word feature, with photos): A group of dedicated volunteers lobbied hard to save 6,000 hectares on B.C.’s Sunshine Coast, protecting old-growth forest and habitat for diverse species. This helped launch the conservation movement on the Sunshine Coast. In the summer and fall of 1987, 240 volunteers built four wilderness…

First Japanese-Canadian to open sole law practice in B.C. faced discrimination and early hardships

Escaping the 1942 detainment of Japanese in Vancouver, BC, Thomas Hara, QC and his family fled to Kamloops, where they lived in an abandoned log cabin without water. After enduring decades of discrimination, Hara graduated from law at the University of B.C. in the early 1960s and was the first Japanese-Canadian to open his own law practice…

Three-generation UBC law families: women and Aboriginals share their legacies

    Kwawkgewlth Chief Bill Wilson (UBC Law ’73) helped draft the first and only amendment to Canada’s Constitution and has fought for Aboriginal rights for decades. But he’s probably better known on the University of B.C.’s campus as co-founder of the law students’ annual tricycle race in the early 1970s. Since then, he’s inspired two daughters…

A father’s legacy: Law is all in the family for B.C. attorney general Suzanne Anton

Before she became B.C.’s attorney general, Vancouver city councillor Suzanne Anton fondly recalls her father’s passion for law, which helped set a career choice for both her and her brother Jonathon. Suzanne’s son Robert, meanwhile, is enrolled in law at the University of B.C., calling the profession “a noble calling.” Click on this Suzanne Anton story link to…

History

I have written two history books Vancouver’s Glory Years (Whitecap Books 2003), co-written with Henry Ewert, and Vancouver’s Trolley Buses 1948-1998. Both feature never-before-published photographs and examine the sociocultural impact that public transit had in shaping Vancouver and the lives of its residents. Click here to read reviews and more info about Vancouver’s Glory Years….

BC Transit newsletter features celebrate early transportation history

  While working as Corporate Communications Manager at BC Transit, I conducted oral history interviews with retired transit employees and pored over hundreds of archival photos. As editor of the employee newsletter, I aimed to include historic transit photos and engaging anecdotes in each issue. Here are just a few examples: A Ride Through Time…

Mechanics restore “Fishbowl” diesel bus to original 1964 condition

Mechanics at Coast Mountain BusLink (previously BC Transit) lovingly restored a 1964 GMC diesel bus. Because of its rounded windshield, it was known as the “fishbowl” bus. Although the vehicle’s interior was in mint condition, the mechanics scrounged parts such as window latches from buses headed to the scrapyard. As editor of BC Transit’s Transit Exchange…

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Life in a fishbowl: How has tourism affected Peggy’s Cove?

While in my twenties, I conducted an oral history study in Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia on Canada’s east coast. With fewer than 100 residents, this archetypal fishing village receives tens of thousands of visitors each year. I loved meeting the lobster fishermen, shopkeepers, and community members in this tourist haven. Each views the impact of…

Oral history study documents pre-park life in northern Ontario

After graduating in History at the University of British Columbia, I worked as an oral historian in northern Ontario for the Ministry of Natural Resources.My job was to document the human history of Wakami Lake Provincial Park. It was wonderful to meet rugged men and women who had forged livelihoods in the challenging bush of…

Oral history: Save cherished stories

This SoulCollage card that I created, which represents the historian part of me, features an image of the first streetcar in San Francisco. What is oral history? This living form of history records people’s memories and anecdotes through sound (and sometimes visual) recording. It allows people to share their personal experiences in their own words,…