Saturday, April 23, 2005


Underbelly News
Downtown Eastside


Hi All!

On a beautiful, bright sunshiny morning on April 21,
politico Lorne Mayencourt joined aboriginal and other
prominent leaders in a tribute to well known and
highly respected lawyer and First Nations elder Kelly

Ms McDonald, as some of my readers know, while
serving on the Vancouver police board, as a result of
indifference from the Police Board chair (Mayor of Vancouver), who had
coincidentally appointed her, resigned her position after
recognizing the mayor wouldn't stand up to the
challenge nor demonstrate leadership around the need
for reforms regarding law enforcement and justice

The province, though, recognized the abilities of Ms
McDonald and immediately hired her as their Deputy
Child and Youth Officer for British Columbia.

In attendance at the Roundhouse Community Centre
Circle honoring Ms McDonald were such notables as
Warriors against Violence co-founders Daniel Parker
and Joe Fossell. Urban Native Youth Leader, Preston
Guno, who organized the event, again demonstrated why
he is an up and coming leader of the aboriginal
community. Joining them, praising the work of Kelly
McDonald, was police board member and former city
councillor Lynne Kennedy. (Kennedy was one of the two speaking out on aboriginal issues on the police board. City Councillor Jim Green had mistakenly said that the two were the mayor and the new appointee Terry LaLiberte.)

A number of police officers were present, including the very popular Downtown
Eastside Constable Dave Dickson. First Nations Elder
Kathy Lewis, who served for 25 years on the Parole
board, along with Urban Native Youth Association
executive director Jerry Adams were on hand offering
their well wishes to McDonald. Also attending, lending his support, was Knowledgable Aboriginal Youth Association director Kelly L'Hirondelle.

While there has been much talk about Vancouver-Burrard
MLA Lorne Mayencourt's supposed insensitivity toward
the downtrodden, his attendance, support and
participation in the traditional aboriginal talking
circle and of Kelly McDonald has not gone unnoticed
by various leaders.

The leaders were pleased that Lorne Mayencourt joined
them. In particular, youth leaders recognized Mr
Mayencourt's leadership on initiating safety in
schools for the youth. While Mr Mayencourt's private
member's bill died as a result of the election call,
some of those participating are hopeful that
Mayencourt's Safe Schools Act will be implemented once
the election is over.

Far too often, bullying, racism and homophobia have become the norm at Vancouver area schools. Teen suicide has increased, along with drug use and
youth exploitation issues. The Vancouver COPE
school board has not come to terms with the
magnitude of the problem and hence, the youth are
hopeful Mr Mayencourt will be given another
opportunity to introduce his safe school legislation.

Whether, that will happen is yet uncertain.

Mr Mayencourt, the current MLA for Vancouver-Burrard,
is in a tight race with Vancouver City Councilor Tim
Stevenson, the former MLA for Van-Burrard, to keep the
seat he snared from Stevenson in the 2001 election.

An anonymous source claims Mayencourt's Safe School
legislation is something that should be touted as an
election issue, since Mr Stevenson's colleagues in COPE
haven't adequately addressed the issues Mr. Mayencourt
has brought forward. In fact, the Filipino community
recently took to task the COPE school board for its
lack of progress in presenting a clear vision of
combating racism in schools.

On Monday, April 25, at the Roundhouse Community
Centre, XtraWest and the Gay Lesbian and Business association are hosting an all
candidate meeting for Vancouver-Burrard residents.
Perhaps audience members will ask both Mayencourt and
Stevenson to define their priorities if elected on May

I'm sure Ms McDonald, in her role of championing the
civil liberties of youth, is hopeful that the leaders
of Vancouver-Burrard bring forth an innovative
approach and vigorously stand up and speak out for solutions on the
protection of youth and social justice matters.

Jamie Lee Hamilon