Letters to the Editor: March 30

Arts and Culture Cranbrook; Dragged into conflict; EK boy and proud

Arts and Culture

“I support the arts and culture” became a well-worn phrase during Cranbrook’s municipal election in the fall of 2014. The first real test of that “support” is now in front of our recently elected Mayor and Council.

The Cranbrook and District Arts Council (CDAC) want to turn historic Fire Hall No. 1 into a vibrant new home for Arts and Culture, which would also continue the revitalization of our downtown.

Our newly elected municipal government has a great opportunity to make this happen. How?

Take the notion of selling the Fire Hall off the table. This is an important piece of our history and our culture — it should remain as a public building.

Lease the Fire Hall to the CDAC and structure the lease so that if the Arts Council ever becomes insolvent, the building and all of the improvements return to the city without any compensation.

A new roof, improved access for those with disabilities, and a greatly improved interior are not future liabilities for taxpayers.

If there are deficiencies in the CDAC’s Business Plan, have city staff work with them to correct the deficiencies and improve the Plan. This is common practice and demonstrates a partnership approach to improving our community. Improve proponent’s proposals is an important role for staff.

Include funding in the 5 Year Financial Plan to support the CDAC and their efforts to secure a long-term home. This demonstrates to potential grant funders and donors that Cranbrook really does support the arts. As a community we have borrowed and invested millions of dollars in recreation facilities to support healthy bodies. There is much to be said for investing in supporting creativity and healthy souls.

There are hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants available in support of arts and culture. If that money doesn’t come to Cranbrook it will go to other communities. Having it come here supports our economy at no additional cost to local taxpayers.

There is a real opportunity here to ensure that “I support arts and culture” aren’t just hollow words …

Wayne Stetski/Cranbrook

Dragged into conflict

In 2003, Stephen Harper wrote a servile letter to the Wall Street Journal, apologising to the Americans because the Canadian government of the day had refused to become embroiled in the Bush/ Blair War in Iraq. Twelve years later, he has achieved his ambition: to play Stephen the Lionheart, Crusader.

He talks transparency, but misled Parliament in October 2014 about Canada’s engagement in the Middle East. He preaches law and order, but has broken international law. Saudi Arabia, flogger of bloggers and beheader of witches, is now Harper’s comrade-in-arms.

He has shown an appalling ignorance of the riptides and cross currents of centuries- old, tribal, religious and territorial conflicts stretching from Peshawar to Aleppo.

He cannot support Syrian president Assad against Sunni Muslim ISIS because Iran-backed Assad, a Shia Alawite Muslim, is an enemy of Sunni Saudi Arabia. He cannot support the opposition to Assad because it is aligned with al-Qaeda. He cannot support the anti-ISIS Shia militias in Iraq because they are subsidised by Shia Iran, the religious adversary of the Saudis, to whom Harper just happens to be selling $15 billion worth of armaments.

It all seems very complex, but apparently not for our prime minister. With a blinkered, biblical certainty — and an eye to October’s federal election — he has dragged us into a conflict with 20,000 religious fanatics who are proxies in the Iran-Saudi Arabia power struggle and who have simply filled the geo-strategic power vacuum created by the Bush/Blair War of 2003: 500,000 Iraqi men, women and children dead since then, and the Iraqi nation’s total degradation, a human catastrophe for which Harper has given his tacit, but unequivocal, support.

In the last analysis, he has led Canada into a war which is, in reality, Harper’s personal crusade; which has no credible or legal justification; which is unaffordable; which is constantly changing and has already escalated; which has neither well-defined objectives, nor boundaries, nor exit strategy. And for which there is no end in sight.

JC Vallance/Fernie

EK boy and proud

In 1981 I moved to Kimberley for two years. So much for that plan! This whole region’s co-operative spirit from sports to arts to aid here and abroad stimulates best-of-the-best from us. A wellspring of ‘inspired duty’ fuels the work of our agencies big and small, from Lions and Rotary to Wildsight to local food banks to museums and libraries. Linked with strong examples, I offer them to prepare a request and an idea.

The East Kootenay Music Teachers Association, alone among two dozen branches of B.C. REGISTERED Music Teachers, draws any and all keen teachers — not just “innies” with formal credentials. Not using whose-student-winswhat to compete (believe me, it’s common elsewhere), we create enriching programs for us and our students in a supportive community.

For hundreds of the world’s traumatized refugees, sponsor groups from Golden to Creston have given a superb welcome to Canada — far more inclusive than the usual big-city experience. A visiting Immigration officer pointed in awe at our off-the-charts refugee record, by far the top among B.C. regions. A main instigator for much of it, Shauna Jimenez, lives in massive metropolitan Wasa! The Cambodia Support Group has had directors from Golden, Wasa, Cranbrook,

Kimberley and elsewhere; and many community or church groups have their own great records of success. As a musician and arts promoter I’ve been active in Fernie, Sparwood, Jaffray, Cranbrook, Lister, Creston, Kimberley, Wasa, Fort Steele, Invermere, Edgewater, Golden … Most recently I was the pianist for a show about local history in Invermere — where Pat Morrow, past-Kimberley man and Mount Everest victor, now lives. We burst with pride as our heroes tote the Stanley Cup to the peak of splendour, top the world in physical excellence, and celebrate the ABLE in disabled (I mean you, Gerry and Annie Johnston.)

I’m based in Kimberley but a happy, proud and inspired East Kootenay resident.

Request: Let Calgary and Edmonton have big-city-Alberta rivalries. Let’s not, please, fall into those traps! For every toxic pit in one of our towns there’s a salvage yard in another; but they no more define our value than did an appendectory scar define Marilyn Monroe’s true worth.

Idea: Scott Joplin was the King of Ragtime! At its heyday c. 1893-1917, many E.K. towns were in intense growth spurts. For 2017, the centenary of Joplin’s death, let’s create region-wide what no big city could have – a Super-Festival with each centre doing its own thing (C’mon Yahk! C’mon Edgewater!) and interlinked to draw people from far and wide.

Like the narrow point of the hourglass, Ragtime drew many European and African influences into a focused, defineable style that spread out to influence even today’s music. I’ll anchor a Regional Rag Fest if people will get behind it; we could promote not just music but lifestyle, local history, science and schooling – you name it. For now, please e-mail ekrag@hotmail.com to state your interest.

Let’s be what we are — a great region full of wonderful places to live and visit, supporting each other as only we can.

Arne Sahlen/Kimberley