PKols sign-Mt Doug, Victoria, BC

Atop Mount Douglas—PKOLS—Victoria, BC.

When University of Victoria anthropology and computer science students joined forces in 2011 with the Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group out of Ladysmith and local Elders to develop a video game, they were furthering the concept that names confer power and presence.

In the game, players embark on a virtual journey through Coast Salish landscapes, and explore uses of the land, historic place names, and traditional knowledge through video, audio, maps and photographs. Based on an earlier board game developed by the treaty group, the game serves as a step towards reclaiming culture, history, and presence in the region.

It followed two significant events in which First Nations cultural geography on the coast was reclaimed. In 2009, B.C.’s Queen Charlotte Islands were officially renamed Haida Gwaii as part of a historic reconciliation agreement between the province and the Haida Nation, and in 2010, the coastal waters off the province’s south coast became known officially as the Salish Sea.

Last year, the progression towards reclamation took another step. Local First Nations publicly proclaimed PKOLS as the original name of Mount Douglas, a site of cultural significance. They held a ceremony on the mountain, and commemorated the mountain’s deep roots in their history with a carved cedar sign near the summit. They have submitted a formal request to B.C.’s Geographic Names Office to have the old name reinstated.

They also announced plans to reclaim Mount Newton within their historical and cultural geography of place names. The mountain, or ȽÁU,WELNEW (place of refuge) is sacred as the site where the Saanich people escaped a great flood about 10,000 years ago.

Names are much more than mere labels. They signify culture and history. They indicate relationships and responsibilities between people and provide glimpses into long-held knowledge. They denote connections between people and places.

Benign or otherwise, renaming causes what existed before to be filtered through a new lens. It can obscure prior relationships, and even erase them….

Read the rest of this editorial at the Victoria Times Colonist….

Not my boyfriend's computer. Photo © Marta Manso, via flickr, Creative Commons, and www.facebookcom/LadyPainPhoto

Somehow, during the years when I mucked about with rocks and critters, and poked at bones of extinct species, being a geek became, well, cool.

I use the word “geek” with the great respect it deserves. My world is peopled by persons passionate about things odd or overlooked, by collectors of specimens, information and ideas, by those who make it their lives’ work to turn over rocks just to see what lies beneath, to grasp what is remarkable in it, and to remark on it. These people never outgrew the childhood need to ask “What?” ‘Why?” and “How?” that is stifled in so Caffeine on T. Photo © Javier Aroche, via flickr, Creative Commons, and javieraroche.commany others.

Sometime during the last 20 years, smart became the new black. Brainy people with focused, intense interests showed that thinking off-centre and poking about in odd corners can mean opportunity, vision and, sometimes—and of particular importance to how our society measures worth—wealth…

Read the rest of this editorial at the Victoria Times Colonist

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 William Kurtz Still life of fruit, from

’Tis the season. Those who are dear to us gather near to us to feast, share and converse. We assemble around the groaning board, and retire from it, groaning, “I couldn’t eat another thing.”

But when they pass around the coffee and the pumpkin pie, we gather our resources, loosen our belts one more notch and manage one more bite.

The sharing of food and drink, and the celebration of plenty, are integral to our social and cultural life. At this time of the year, in this part of the world, turkey and some mistletoe truly bind us together.

Read more….


Sources include:

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition article 1article 2; article 3

When we met up with Jason, whom Gaston had hired at Kananaskis Country 15 to 20 years ago, for supper on our one evening in Paris, he warned us about French mealtimes and their implications on the rest of one’s life if one does not abide with traditional working hours. He’s been in Paris for a few years now, working with producers and musicians there, as well as producing his own tunes in his studio, and he said it took him many, many many months to parse out the few cafes—mostly ethnic—in his faubourg, Montmartre, that remain open during the afternoon’s dark hours.

“I had to. Sometimes I don’t get out of the studio until 3:00 or 3:30, and after working for seven or eight hours straight, I can’t wait until 7:00 P.M.” Like many Parisians, Jason doesn’t cook much at home.

Not that any self-respecting restaurant in France would be ready to serve a guest at 7:00 P.M. Sure you can go in (with a reservation, bien sûr) and have a leisurely aperitif or two, but the staff are going to be bustling around you preparing for the evening for at least another half hour. It unlikely they’ll ask you for your order much before eight. But then, in France, they don’t rush you at the end of the meal by presenting the bill until you ask for it.

Since the early days in our vacation, we have adapted to local rhythms. Gaston now gets up in time to walk down to the bakery in our current village for croissants au beurre still warm from the oven. The neighbour’s dog, which greets him noisily and annoyingly on his return gets me up. We’re up and out the door for the morning’s adventures by 10:00 A.M., which is the earliest you can expect anything to be open around here. We’ve had a number of al fresco picnics on the side of the road while traveling from point A to point B. We consider that clever and efficient use of the extended noon-hour, which shows how un-French we are.

However, by the time the French lunch time is over and everything is once again open (by 3:00-ish, if you’re thinking commercial establishments), my lunch-time blood sugar levels start to dive. That, combined with the heat at the hottest part of the day and the searing sunshine and the day’s increased traffic on the roads, makes for clenched, knotted jaws and headaches for one, perhaps both, of us. Not completely adjusted, in other words. And the latest we’ve managed to eat supper at home is 7:00 P.M.

There was the very Parisian sight on leaving the hotel in the rue de Malte on our first morning in France. A man exited the building across the street and relieved himself au français by the front door.

This was perhaps considered acceptable behaviour a couple of centuries ago. It’s illegal now. Pissing perps can be fined hundred of Euros… if they’re caught. This explains the furtive look both ways for police as the guys sidle to the sides of buildings. That they continue to do it explains the smell of Paris in August or after any warm spell without rain for several days.

That this particular law-breaker was dressed in traditional Hassidic get-up, with high-crowned hat, black coat and side-curls, and the door next to which he was faire pisser was the entrance to a store-front synagogue added local colour.