Sunday, October 24, 2004


Underbelly News
Downtown Eastside


Hi All,

Last night on Saturday, I attended a beautiful banquet at the Floata Restaurant in Chinatown.
The event was put on by the Canadians for Reconciliation group led by Bill Chu. I was happy to attend this aboriginal event with recent police board member Kelly MacDonald and two of her friends from the Musqueam, Denise and Roz who made the evening a memorable one.

The Portland Community Services society purchased our tickets. It was an inspiring night and I want to say THANK YOU to Mark and Liz from the Portland who ensured we were present at this historic night.

The main organizer for the event was Multicultural leader Bill Chu who did an amazing job to ensure the evening was a success. Thank You Bill.

Notable in their attendance was Vancouver City Councilors Peter Ladner and Ellen Woodsworth. The leader of the provincial NDP, Carole James was present along with MLA Jenny Kwan. MP Bill Siksay was also in attendance. Notably absent was MP Libby Davies and Mayor Larry Campbell.

The evening was very long. We arrived at 6pm which was the start time. The speeches didn't end until 11pm. Nevertheless a good time was had by all.

The only blemish on the evening was the reading of the Mayoral Proclamation. Mr Larry Campbell addressed the issue of aboriginal reconciliation in his text, read by Councilor Woodsworth. However, I was ever mindful of the recent resignation of aboriginal lawyer Ms Kelly MacDonald from the Vancouver Police Board. Ms MacDonald was seated beside me and I couldn't help notice her pain as the proclamation was read.

Ms MacDonald made Canadian political history by sitting on the Police Board, however, the circumstances surrounding her resignation still lurks prominantly on the radar. Although, I happen to know why Ms MacDonald chose to resign, it isn't up to me to disclose these reasons.

I would hope, however, that the Mayor, if he has a decent bone in his body will address the way the Police operate in this City. At some point he must address why it was made so unbearable that an aboriginal member, left with no other re-course, fled the Vancouver Police Board.

It must also be said, that women on the police board are under extreme pressure as the Old Boy Network still seems to be very active within the VPD. Mayor Campbell has done nothing to address this.

Accountability and Reconciliation of marginalized peoples must be placed at the forefront of next year's civic election. While many Vancouver citizens had high hopes that Mayor Campbell would place inequality at the forefront of his agenda, sadly he hasn't delivered. The resignation of Ms MacDonald confirms this. Other areas where Mayor Campbell has been disappointing regarding his lack of leadership has been the Jeff Berg fiasco, the missing and murdered women of the Downtown Eastside, The VPD actions on the Stanley Park assaults, the resignation of Kelly MacDonald, attacks on the poor who disagree with the Mayor and his silence surrounding the brewing conflict regarding a couple of proposals for group homes. Mr Campbell, acting very unmayoral like, is mute as a number of former sex trade workers and drug addicted women are being tossed back onto the streets from a care home where they were receiving treatment & support.

Back to the banquet. Grand Chief of the First Nations Summitt, Ed John and Union of BC Indian Chief, Stewart Phillip and his lovely wife Joan, closed the evening by delivering rousing and powerful speeches. Their messages reaffirms that there is hope for a better and just society. They are the leaders we must look to for leadership. Like Ms MacDonald, these aboriginal leaders know the differnce betweend law & people vs law & order.

Speaking of people, next week, I am having lunch with Councilor Tim Stevenson who is once again running to be MLA. Hopefully, I'll get a column out of it. Perhaps I'll even armtwist Councilor Tim to raise these reconciliation and leadership issues that his Mayor seems unable to.

Jamie Lee Hamilton
(604) 781-3361