Monday, June 14, 2010


Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC


In beautiful picturesque Vancouver, British Columbia where we just hosted the world, we now find ourselves with the dubious reputation of having one of the highest rates of hate-motivated attacks in the Country.

Just yesterday I learned that my dear friends David and Pete were savagely beaten near the entrance to their home in the Downtown Eastside. The attack was so vicious that they required hospitalizations and medical treatment.

Stats Canada has just released a report which says that gay-bashings has doubled between 2007-2008 and these assaults are now the most vicious of all other hate crimes.

I know some people will find my comments offensive but I believe these forms of attacks are directly attributed to immigration patterns and the influx of the far right USA religious groups into our country. The latter display a complete lack of tolerance for our tolerant and liberal way of life which is based on our live and let live attitudes.

It must also be acknowledged that many of our ethnic populations are peace loving and they have contributed enormously to the betterment of our City. I include in this group our Chinese Canadians, Jewish and African Canadian populations.

What has concerned me over the years is that many of our new arrival ethnic communities choose to segregate themselves into enclaves in our City. They have created their own areas where they set up businesses, residence and places of learning and this is quite jarring to me.

When I attended Strathcona Elementary school, most of my playmates were Chinese, Japanese, Ukrainian and Italian. We happily and joyously mixed together. We played together, went camping together and celebrated our different cultures together.

Now there are separate schools for our multi-cultural groups and less integration. Many places of worship and learning have become breeding grounds for intolerance and hate.

Supposed celebratory parades are turned into fronts for showcasing and organizing intolerant and despicable actions. I include the Surrey Vaisakhi parade and a number of the temples which have spewed garbage from their pulpits where the younger people are brought up believing it is OK to lash out at people different from them.

So while it is important that we exercise caution around our changing City, we cannot though turn a blind eye, letting it go unnoticed that our City has become a very dangerous place to live.

Speaking with people I have heard over and over again the same messages of how our City has meta-morphed into a place where there are deep divisions and increased cultural conflicts. Many people state that our immigration policies and politics seem to be creating a City without respect for diversity and tolerance.

Just mouthing the words, fairness, respect and tolerance is not enough. Time and time again this is what our politicians only seem capable of doing.

Our Vancouver municipal government seems to be lost. Instead of tackling these real serious issues they have focused on other priorities such as bike lanes, legalizing backyard chicken houses and re-making City Hall grounds into vegetable gardens.

Hate and violence issues appear to be less of a priority and this is sad. Remember how the Mayor promised almost two years ago a round-table regarding increased violence toward sex workers. Well it hasn't happened and I'm not sure what progress if any the Vision GLBT mandated committee of City Hall are making. Have they even produced a report to the City yet?

City Hall welcomed the Ultimate Fighting Champions into our City and some people are saying there is a direct link between promoting this type of violence and the recent hate-motivated attack over the weekend on David Holtzman and Pete Regier.

So what can we do?

Well next Monday June 21, a meeting HAS BEEN CALLED to talk about Vancouver municipal issues. Hopefully out of this meeting a new plan can be worked on which will create more positive change for our City.

My best wishes go out to Pete Regier and David Holtzman and others who encounter violence. I know they are not alone in their pain and they will not suffer alone either.

Jamie Lee Hamilton