Trevor Herriot, Towards a Prairie Atonement

Writer, naturalist and activist Trevor Herriot says settlers have much to learn from First Peoples about living in harmony with the land and with one another.
Trevor Herriot speaks in Ottawa. Photo by Dennis Gruending.

In April,  I was invited by the Canadian Council of Churches to interview the well-known writer, naturalist and activist Trevor Herriot. Members of the CCC’s Commission on Justice and Peace were meeting in Ottawa and asked Trevor to address them during an all-day meeting. They believe, correctly, that Trevor has much to say about living sustainably and with justice in our environment. Continue reading Trevor Herriot, Towards a Prairie Atonement

Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights, a 600 km walk supports UN declaration

A group of people from various faith groups has walked 600 kilometres in a Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights
Walking the talk. Photo courtesy Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) released its final report on Indian residential schools in June 2015. The TRC commissioners bluntly described those schools as instruments of “cultural genocide.” They were equally frank in describing the complicity of Canadian churches, which operated most of the schools on behalf of the federal government. Continue reading Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights, a 600 km walk supports UN declaration

“Hypocrite” vs “celebrity environmentalists”, words fly in climate change debate

Bill McKiben, environmental activist says Justin Trudeau is a "stunning hypocrite" on the issue of climate change
Climate change activist Bill McKibben. Photo by Steve Liptay. Courtesy of 350.org

Well-known U.S. environmental activist Bill McKibben has caused a stir by describing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as a “stunning hypocrite” on climate change. “Trudeau says all the right things, over and over, “McKibben wrote in The Guardian. “But those words are meaningless if you keep digging up more carbon and selling it to people to burn, and that’s exactly what Trudeau is doing.” Continue reading “Hypocrite” vs “celebrity environmentalists”, words fly in climate change debate

Canada’s Vimy Ridge narrative, more trope than truth

Some Canadian politicians, journalists and historians claim that Canada was born in the 1917 battle at Vimy Ridge. Not so.
Canadian war graves at National Vimy Memorial.  Photo by Dennis Gruending

In recent weeks, there has been a wave of media coverage surrounding the centenary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. The splendid Vimy monument in France provides a perfect backdrop for television anchors. There was also a crowd of thousands on the site, including the descendants of soldiers who fought there against the Germans, grizzled veterans of the Second World War and other conflicts, and hundreds of Canadian school children many of whose teachers had given them assignments related to the Vimy battle. One of the adolescents interviewed on television said that the Canadian soldiers had fought to preserve her freedom at Vimy in 1917. Continue reading Canada’s Vimy Ridge narrative, more trope than truth

Conservative leadership race, dog whistles and wannabe demagogues

The Conservative leadership race features dog whistle politics and wannabe demagogues
Conservative leader candidate, MP Kellie Leitch. Photo by Art Babych

The Conservative leadership race involves an unwieldy group of 14 candidates — only four of whom might be seen as fit for the office. They are former cabinet ministers, including the impressive Michael Chong, Lisa Raitt and Erin O’Toole, as well as Andrew Scheer, a former speaker of the House of Commons. Unfortunately, among them, only Chong is fully fluent in French. But each would encourage a bigger tent Conservative Party than was possible under former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who came to politics through the hard-bitten Reform Party. Continue reading Conservative leadership race, dog whistles and wannabe demagogues

Slayings in Quebec mosque, words are weapons too

Ottawa demo against Islamophobia on Feb. 4. Photo by Dennis Gruending
Ottawa demo against Islamophobia on Feb. 4. Photo by Dennis Gruending

We are heartsick about the killing of six men and the injury of several others in a Quebec City mosque on Jan 29. Those who were shot and killed as they prayed were Mamadou Tanou Barry, Ibrahima Barry, Khaled Belkacemi, Abdelkrim Hassane and Azzedine Soufiane Aboubaker Thabti. A  27-year-old Laval University student, Andre Bissonnette, has been charged with six counts of murder and others of attempted murder. Continue reading Slayings in Quebec mosque, words are weapons too

Freeland, Trudeau are true believers, but free trade mantra blows up

Chrystia Freeland says free trade raises all boats, but does it really?
Chrystia Freeland, Foreign Affairs Minister. Creative Commons photo.

Canada’s new minister of foreign affairs, Chrystia Freeland, was recruited into politics by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and is influential in his inner circle. They share a belief common amongst international bankers, industrialists and many politicians that free trade and globalization are automatically good for us and that it would be dangerous to tamper with them. Continue reading Freeland, Trudeau are true believers, but free trade mantra blows up

Rev. George Tomita, a wonderful man leaves us

Rev. George Tomita, a wonderful man dies
Rev. George and Amy Tomita

I attended a funeral in Ottawa on January 20 for Rev. George Tomita, a 95-year-old retired United Church minister. I met George and his gracious wife Amy more than 20 years ago when he officiated at the marriage of our next door neighbours. We kept in touch, if only occasionally. I posted a brief story about George in 2014. I am repeating it here.    Continue reading Rev. George Tomita, a wonderful man leaves us