President’s Report, Victoria AGM, April 8, 2009

2009 April 09, by Chapter Council

The year has been busy with many major thrusts. We have enjoyed cooperating with other organizations with similar goals. For instance, groups like the South Island Health Coalition and our Health committee have cosponsored events. The water committee has been a vital part of the Water Watch group. The coffee committee has been stalwartly presenting almost monthly evenings of education and discussion for the general public as well as members. New members are now receiving welcoming outreach from the membership committee. Outreach has made sure there is a CoC presence at many events, such as Moss Street Market and Seedy Saturday. During the year we created a new entity, Snakes in the Grass, which researches the greenwashing activities of corporations.

Our chapter has appreciated the back up help and guidance from the regional office. We are happy to be working with Harjap Grewal, our regional organizer. Both he and his assistant Ava Waxman came to Victoria during the year to bring us programs of vital interest: Ava gave us a presentation about genetic modified foods, and Harjap, together with three experts, toured BC presenting a potent tar sands panel.

Two other events are worth mentioning. The first is the evening with Holly Dressel, who wrote “Who Killed the Queen”. This book is about our national health system and how the IMF, the International Money Fund, forced the Canadian government to pull the plug on our national health care funding in 1996, which is when the line ups for medical care first became a part of our everyday life. We had a dynamic discussion, with a rich exchange of ideas.

In May the Canadian Environment Awards announced that: “The program’s top honour, the Citation of Lifetime Achievement, will be presented to Maude Barlow who for 25 years has been a fierce advocate for the rights of Canadians and for Canadian sovereignty… Maude Barlow will deliver the keynote address at the annual Awards Gala… on June 2 in Toronto.” When our very active member, Joan Russow, came across this information, she emailed the Ottawa CoC office to alert Maude that this award is sponsored by Shell and other major global polluters. Maude did make that keynote speech; she delivered a blistering exposure of Shell for its ecologically disastrous coal bed methane project in BC and donated her award money to the campaign of those being intimately affected by Shell’s criminal activities, the Sacred Headwaters nation, saying “your struggle is our struggle”. She received a standing ovation; in the audience, the Shell Vice President initially remained seated, standing only after he became aware that cameras were on him. (This information came from the Tyee’s write up of the event.)

I want to emphasize that Joan Russow is the person who alerted Maude to this situation, giving Maude an unexpected opportunity to speak strongly to the issues of corporate crimes. Sadly, Joan is leaving our board after many years of helping us with her strong ability to do piercing research. We will miss you Joan, and you deserve a huge thanks. Fortunately Joan will continue to be active with Snakes in the Grass which allows us to continue to use the results of her widespread researches.

Our web site, by the way, has an active role in keeping us up to date. One of its features is a list of alternative media, such as the Tyee.

Over the year there have been many other events, which you can find mentioned on our web site. Barbara Hay, one of our active and hard working board members resigned in May; she and all her many contributions are missed.

I wish to thank all of you who have given me support and understanding as we have worked together during the past two years to keep Council of Canadians issues in the forefront of the minds of Victoria area residents.

Fran Thoburn