Out in Schools- An Excellent Resource for Finding Community Allies

Report on Bullying, Discrimination and the LGBT2Q+ Community

by

Virginia Carraway Stark

** Please Note: A list of helpful websites is available at the bottom of this page**

I went to ‘Out in Schools’ on behalf of the South Peace Community Arts Council and StarkLight Press. Myself and Tony Stark with StarkLight Press were contacted by SPCAC as last minute attendees, because all other members of the SPCAC were unable to attend this afternoon seminar.

Out in Schools focuses on raising awareness against discrimination in all forms, particularly the LGBT2Q+ community. It was well attended by people who are extremely concerned by the situation of bias, discrimination and hate crimes against anyone perceived as not being part of the mainstream community.

The major focuses of the meeting were

  1. Resources
  2. Connecting with allies
  3. Self-advocacy
  4. Protecting vulnerable persons from discrimination and hate crimes.

The conclusions on these points were that Resources in the Peace River Region are sorely lacking as is a sense of community. Dawson Creek has been identified as a place in the province of British Columbia that is particularly prone to bigotry and discrimination. People leave the area rather than trying to deal with the storm of hatred in this area. This has caused province-wide concern.

SPCRS is one of the only groups that has any programs to assist the LGBT+ community. They are dealing with children and teenagers who are being kicked out of their homes by families that lack education and understanding. There was concern expressed about the lack of doctors for the LGBT+ community in particulary the Trans-gendered community.

Most resources eventually end up being routed through Vancouver. This and the extreme lack of understanding and compassion have caused most of this community to leave or to stay hidden. There are few community events and these events tend to be segregated from the community at large. This further isolates the LGBT+ population.

Both at the meeting and afterward, I connected with several people who said they were planning on leaving the area because of the unwelcoming environment. It was pointed out to me that there is little or no involvement of the LGBT+ community, People of Colour and Aboriginal population and the disabled community inside the arts community as a whole.

This has been noticed by provincial bodies as well and may affect future funding if diversity isn’t embraced.

The meeting served to connect allies with the LGBT+ community and the atmosphere at the meeting itself was warm and welcoming to all. Terms were gone over. It was discussed that a dictionary with terms should be made and the advocate from SPCRS discussed this matter with me and it was agreed that StarkLight Press would volunteer our services to make a dictionary based off of current terminology with a bold note in the front to let people know that these terms are highly changeable. Future editions of the LGBT+ dictionary will be an on-going project and something that is worked on in newer editions.

A side note to bring to your attention was discrimination in other fields not as yet legally recognized. These areas touched on the topics of those who look different having similar discrimination issues against them. This is particularly true for people with piercings, tattoos and alternative hairstyles including in some cases individuals with shaved heads. Freedom to express yourself should not limit your lifestyle or job options in an open society. These are things to keep in mind for the future and to be aware of in our daily conduct.

Support groups for men who are dealing with the subject of ‘toxic masculinity’ was breached. Many communities have started support groups to help men dealing with the suppressive atmosphere of emotion and sensitivity, essentially providing a ‘safe place’ for men to express their feelings. For many men this also includes emotional education and learning how to safely express their feelings after being taught in life and in the workplace that such things were not permissible.

It was generally agreed upon that this was something that Dawson wasn’t ready for but something to keep in mind for the future. If men should express a desire to start a group it is important that resources be made available for them to do so and that most of all community receptiveness is present. Toxic masculinity is a topic that isn’t addressed enough and many people aren’t even aware that it is a problem. Nevertheless, it induces feelings of hopelessness, loneliness and has resulted in many suicides and other acts of violence that could be prevented by opening this dialogue.

In addition, Self Advocacy was discussed at great length. It has been observed that abusers, bullies and those used to practicing discrimination rely on a regular course of attack on their victims to attempt to undermine and isolate them from the rest of the community at large. A Self-Advocacy booklet will go over the steps to reporting hate crimes, hate incidents and how to file claims with the various Human Rights Tribunals, the RCMP (as well as special Hate Crime division numbers to avoid any local problems from people attempting to go to the police who fear for their safety). Most of all this booklet will focus on how to speak up for yourself.

As a recent victim of discrimination myself, I have had the dubious distinction of learning more about how to file Human Rights Complaints and both how to speak up on my behalf and how the narrow-minded abuser will attempt to ‘mind rape’ people into being silent.

These tactics involve:

1 Calling the victim a trouble maker.

2 Calling the victim a liar.

3 Rallying around the central abuser. This is why Hate Crimes are often referred to as ‘a cancer in the community’ or a ‘community virus’. Justifying for the abuser and demonizing the victim brings more and more people into the conspiracy of discrimination in an effort to maintain the status quo.

4 Shunning the victim. Showing preference for the abuser.

These tactics were portrayed in a short film about a young trans-gendered boy in Prince George who nearly ended up committing suicide. He was not only expelled from school for speaking out about the abuse after being admonished by school administration to be silent, he was also chided in front of the boys who had assaulted him for daring to speak up and, ‘cause trouble’.

This pattern is one I witnessed after being called, ‘retarded’ by the president of the Pottery Guild of Dawson Creek and subsequently denied membership and access to the guild. I was admonished for speaking up about the abuse and discrimination on Facebook, to my husband and to friends. I was told that I had brought ‘bad press’ to the potter’s guild so now I would definitely not be given membership. This was after I was made to feel sub-human from Dori Braun’s characterizations of me as being mentally and physically too handicapped to be a potter. Even describing me as being, ‘unable to comprehend even the most basic of skills’ and as, ‘suffering from retardation’.

After continuing to speak out I was told in strong terms that I wouldn’t be welcome to perform at a public poetry event arranged by Donna Kane on behalf of the Peace Liard Arts Council because Dori was distressed that I was speaking about how she had treated me. Dori had now changed her story entirely, following the standard model of calling me a troublemaker, then a liar and finally gathering first the Potter’s Guild and then Donna Kane and other members of the arts community around her to validate her discrimination.

The result of this was that Dori performed and I was forced out of the community.

This is key to speak out about because anyone, regardless of the type of discrimination will see the same pattern. This can culminate quickly into violence or suicide and it is important to file a police report. It is also integral to intercede on behalf of the victim. One should never assume that a victim is not a victim because you have ‘known someone forever’. Every member of the community should have the same rights regardless of how long they have been in the community or what perceived or actual discrimination is being shown against them.

There is little to be gained in the material sphere for making claims against bullies. You are at once pressured by the abuser and their circle who try to vilify you and twist the situation around to the abuser’s advantage. It takes great strength to stand up against discrimination and speak out. There are few rewards and much pain and suffering.

If someone speaks out about abuse you need to listen. This is not ever a case of, ‘innocent until proven guilty’. Discrimination, bullying and hate crimes are often difficult to prove and it is the responsibility of every good-hearted person to improve society by intervening in this sort of behavior before more harm is done.

Protecting vulnerable people from hate crimes and discrimination is something that must be done as a community. Dawson Creek has received failing marks on this on all counts.  Help for local victims of discrimination and abuse is almost always sought out from outside the community as the people of Dawson Creek fail again and again to fight these crimes.

Every Guild and Society must make it clear that it is open to all members. This is supposed to be clearly laid out in the charter of each group and when you sign for government funding that is one of the pre-requisites on nearly every form that the activity/guild/society be freely made available to all people. Rules of conduct and admission must be written up and clearly posted on your groups website and physical location if there is one.

This isn’t being done and is a violation of the reception of government grant money and loans.

In addition, a method of mediation for problems within societies should be clearly laid out. Communication should be transparent and the Arts Council as the one who holds the purse strings is responsible for ensuring that these steps are taken to ensure a friendly and inclusive environment for everyone. None of this is currently apparent.

I propose that someone be made responsible for this oversight and enacting the necessary changes to start making moves in the right direction. I also propose that a deadline be put on this activity to ensure that Dawson Creek doesn’t humiliate itself on the 75th anniversary of the Mile Zero celebrations by showing itself to be letting down its vulnerable population. Looking to the past and how the black population and the native population has been routinely ignored and abused I think it’s important that the current council not repeat the mistakes of Dawson Creek over the past 75 years.

  • Virginia Carraway Stark is an award-winning author, whose short stories have appeared internationally. You can find her work at StarkLight Press, and on Amazon.com.

You can find more information about the Out in Schools program here:

What’s happening

More Resources:

South Peace Community Resources Society

www.spcrs.ca

www.heretohelp.bc.ca/visions/lgbt-vol6/lgbt-resources

www.qmunity.ca

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Perpetuity

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Perpetuity: I Am Yours Forever and You Are Mine

by Virginia Carraway Stark

One day I found a picture of you

And my heart was hurt anew

Because my love, how I loved you

You were mine, my Perpetu

But even more I belonged to you

Someone like my Perpetu

Can never leave my heart too

So much of me was invested in you

Every day you were with me was always new

A part of my soul was claimed when yours was due

I always new the day would come

When I would think of you and numb

The pain and tears that will not be dumb

Some things in life aren’t here to stay

But having a dog taken away

Even by old age, the pain eats us day by day

Rest for now, my Perpetu

One day I know, I will see you

I will hold you in my arms anew

What is gone now is not lost except for a few

When it’s time to wake up know that I’m here

And that I’ve never once forgotten you.

– mixed media on paper, Copyright 2009 Virginia Carraway Stark.

You can watch Virginia Carraway Stark read her poem here:

Seemlie Keybearer’s Ode

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The Seemlie are a race of recalcitrant, watchful underworld beings that reside chiefly in forests and wild places, but have known to make themselves at home in the urban underpinnings of cities and towns as well. Here is a poem written by Virginia Carraway Stark from a denizen of this quiet, magical world:

Hello, Hello

by Virginia Carraway Stark

Hello, yes I see you

Even though I know you don’t see me

Careful where you tread

With your big feet you can make me dead

I wouldn’t like that and I might decide

That I don’t like you

Here in my woods

Squishing the mushrooms under

You are like a a monster to me

Do you know what a problem you are?

I don’t think you know much

And I have important business to do

In the dark shadows

Where you bring your hammering and

Your buzzing machines for us

In the Unseillie Court of the Fair Folk

It is business as usual and you are here

In our realm, maybe I’ll send

Gnats and mosquitos after you

I have a little thing, a special treasure

That I must guard every moment by my heart

And here you are making a mess

Burning things not safe to burn

Running around and yammering

And hello, hello, yes I see you

I know you don’t see me

If you did it would be harder

For you to be such a prick to me

But since you can’t bother to open your eyes

I have a few things in mind, more than one surprise

I don’t think you’ll like them and when I’m done

You’ll be the one to leave the forest at a run

Go ahead, bring your gun,

You don’t see me,

Hello, Hello, Yes, I see you

And if you make me fret anymore

(I do have a habit of worrying so)

Then I’ll just take it out on all you poos

– mixed media on paper, Copyright 2016 Virginia Carraway Stark

You can watch Virginia Carraway Stark read her poem here:

Here’s some information on the different realms of Faerie (but not about the Seemlie, because they are too shy at this point to make Wiki articles):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuatha_D%C3%A9_Danann

http://www.worldoffroud.com/books/laby.php

The Green Man

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Green Man I See

By Virginia Carraway Stark

Green Man I see you peeping

In the woods while it was dark and

On the mossy carpet I was weeping

I see you watching from the burls

And your hair moving in the moss and twigs

Through the dappled air your presence is seeping

Green Man I feel you watching

When I come into the forest shadows

As I was a-climbing, fishing, catching

I saw your eyes appraising me and thinking

In your mind that moves like leaves and does

Each time we see each other I feel us meshing

Your eyes are full of sorrows for the things that are no more

Once your realm was every mountain and vallley

Where springtime came and greenbuds bloom

Now the world has shrunkens small and there is no room at all

But still you are never shrinking

Green Man is the size that Green Man is and there will never

Be another like you

Green Man I feel you feelings

I feel it too, the coolness of the air

The entry into the cathedral of your temple

And I can hear your heartbeat beating

I walk on feet that feel like flying as sunbeams

Bathed in green like shafts come stabbing

In your holy place I feel you, I feel me healing

Green Man I see you reaching

With the spring turned to summer

The Universe itself has you in His keeping

You feel no fear, you have no trepidations

Those are human was of talking

What is will be, at bud, blossom or harvest’s reaping.

– mixed media on paper, copyright 2014 Virginia Carraway Stark

You can watch Virginia Carraway Stark read her poem here:

Here is some information about The Green Man, the famed mysterious god of Northern Europe:

Abbey_Dore_painted_Green_Man

Madder Family Portrait

Madder Family Portrait ca. 1888

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This piece, along with others from artists throughout Canada’s northern territories, is part of the Art Walk in Dawson Creek, B.C. this year. Pieces from StarkLight Press can be seen at Faking Sanity Bookshop in downtown Dawson Creek throughout the summer.

The Madder family is one of Victorian London’s premiere families, with a textile empire father Geoffrey Madder forged from the riches of the Indian colony. His three girls were some of the most sought-after matches in the Empire. When Geoffrey disappeared in the wilds of Asia, those three girls were left to their own devices- only their closest neighbor and friend, Horus Haut de Nuit, came to their aid and tried his best to keep them from the circling society vultures. Horus left his inventions and trekked to India to divine the fate of his dear friend Geoffrey, and returned with a massive, beautiful tiger… with Geoffrey Madder’s eyes.

Unable to find a means to rectify the accursed transformation that Geoffrey had undergone, Horus instead developed a showy collar for his friend, so that Geoffrey could accompany his youngest daugher, Rosie, to all of the business meetings, society functions and other neccesitous events required to keep up the Madder fortunes.

Although lauded throughout London for the creation of Rosie’s amazing clockwork tiger, Horus was not satisfied until he had created an actual clockwork man. Link, the brass and steel artificial man, not only had his own sentience, but could be used in place of steam and gas powered devices. Would Horus’ latest invention be allowed to remain a free creation, or would the interests that had shaped the steam-powered Victorian age do anything to stop Link and his father from changing their world?

You can read the first installment of The Madder Family Chronicles in Holly and Ivy, A StarkLight Steampunk Christmas Anthology. 

Find a link to the print book and e-book here:

https://www.starklightpress.com/starklight-bookstore/

You can hear Alfie Elkins reading a passage from the story upon which this painting was based here:

For more information about steampunk as a genre and a cultural movement, check out these links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steampunk

http://steampunkworkshop.com/

Blizzard of Sieggy

Blizzard of Sieggy

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This picture came about due to the uncanny similarity between hard rocker Ozzy Osbourne and beloved springer spaniel, Siegfried. His homey behaviours evoked J.R.R. Tolkien’s recalcitrant hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, and the rest pretty much painted itself”

Anthony Stark.

This original work can be viewed as part of the Dawson Creek Art Walk, where local businesses display fine art in their establishments. You can find Blizzard of Sieggy at Dawson Creek’s premiere bookstore, Faking Sanity.

You can find links here to J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic tale, The Hobbit, as well as The Lord of the Rings.

The Hobbit print book:

https://www.amazon.ca/Hobbit-J-R-Tolkien/dp/0261102214/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1466645216&sr=8-2&keywords=the+hobbit

The Lord of the Rings trilogy:

https://www.amazon.ca/Lord-Rings-Written-Publisher-Paperback/dp/B00SQBAP3C/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1466645296&sr=8-10&keywords=the+lord+of+the+rings

Here’s a link to The Tolkien Society, the world’s premier Tolkien preservation society:

http://www.tolkiensociety.org/

On the Ozzy side of things, here’s a pic of the great original album art:

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Here is a link to Ozzy Osbourne’s album, Blizzard of Ozz, available on Amazon.

https://www.amazon.ca/BLIZZARD-OF-OZ-REMASTERED/dp/B00015U1A8/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1466645397&sr=8-2&keywords=blizzard+of+oz

And, just for the purists out there, here’s a link to  Led Zeppelin’s Ramble On, which perfectly embodies the wanderlust that Middle Earth can evoke:

Epitaph for a Small Town

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A sight like this is a fairly common occurrence on modern city streets these days, so common that I am sure more than a few of us find little to move us in its pixels. Regrettable accidents and violence have become so much the norm that, if one were to attempt to catalogue all the incidents recorded in a single large cityspace, it would be less an exercise in fraught film noir intensity and more one of beauraucratic detachment.

Nevertheless, I would like to recount the experience of one of many of these incidents in a small town to which I have no small attachment- not just for the fact that it was one of many human tragedies that occurred today, but for the manner of its recounting to me.

Yesterday morning, an elderly lady was struck by a car on the corner of a busy Dawson Creek street. The lady succumbed to her injuries and died. I was just down the street at the time, knowing nothing of the police tape, ambulances or other trappings of tragedy being unrolled blocks away. A brief, half-heard wail from a siren was all the real-time sensory input I received.

Continuing on with my work online, I noticed from a Facebook acquaintance a cryptic comment about “hoping whoever hit  that old lady gets what he deserves.”

The comment was so cryptic, the sirens so common, I failed to connect the two in my mind. I followed the thread and asked the wheres and whens of the situation, learning it was at a laundromat where everyone in town comes to get their coveralls and work clothes cleaned. A common fixture of northern life, drawn into a drama for a day as the methodical wheels of investigation cordoned off its borders.

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The fact I had put off my own work laundry until later that day was not lost on me.

People on the thread chatted about speeders on 8th Street. All of the usual cries for checks, balances, solar-powered speed monitors and other shawls of human comfort abounded. I continued my work, for what else is there to do when only supposition and righteous anger abound.

Their anger is not unfounded- this is a small, farming and foresting town whose population swells to almost ten times its size every winter to accommodate the multitudes of petrochemical workers in brand new, state of the art trucks designed to persevere over the most intensely unforgiving terrain. This little main street can hardly bear the strain of these vehicles, the sand and gravel, liquid calcium and effluent semis that traverse it many times a day.

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I had occasion to be on the overtaxed 8th Street later that day. I was rather surprised to see the flashing LED lights of the RCMP still extant outside the laundromat. Pulling over, I stopped to take these pictures of the dregs of tragedy, the flapping wasp-striped police tape and the deserted parking lot in front of the place that is usually constantly filled with traffic.

The wind had been gusting along with the full moon since the night before, slapping and rushing the buildings and whipping up giant puddles of water where once there had only been snow. My mother told me that winds like that meant that misfortune was in the air- the Wild Hunt would come out at more times than just the top and bottom of the year to race over the landscape and initiate tremors of tragedy.

As I watched the tape billow in the wind, I knew as I always do that she was right. It is true that the seeds of sorrow spread by such winds find fertile ground in a world where people have lost not only their caution and value for life, but have lost the knowledge of the subtle signs of nature to tell them when the ice of reality upon which they tread is thin.

It has long been understood by first responders that, regardless of statistics, the time of the full moon is a ‘hinky’ one. It has been long understood by the natives of every boreal country that the northern lights are connected to spirits and the dead. It has long been understood by humans that the highways and biways are areas of transition and change, a shifting landscape not unlike either the wind that rushes over the melting snow or the auroras themselves.

Yet in the increasing urban rush to attain, suffer and forget the pain of that attainment we have forgotten that we still live in the world and that we can and should try to preserve the life that surrounds us. We can and should try to remember the feel of a wind in our hair and know when it is happy and joyous or troublesome. We can and should remember the physics that taught us how to make our fast machines and recall that one can only arrive at a destination so fast over land- the speeding that costs so greatly can only result in a gain of a few moments for the speeder.

Natural laws of both subtle and empirical nature are forgotten in the overamped, underslept, desperate search for Attainment. In such an avid search, we lose life, we lose connection, we will lose our freedom and will ultimately lose anything that connects us to the world around us. Small towns with landmarks that matter will become faceless urban landscapes, interchangeable and thus dispensable, all the more ready to play the backdrop for whatever tragic loss chaos has to unfold.

So it was that a small town became the backdrop for one of another set of statistics yesterday.

You can read the article pleading for information from the Alaska Highway News here:

http://www.alaskahighwaynews.ca/dawson-creek/updated-woman-killed-in-alleged-hit-and-run-in-dawson-creek-1.1784331

-Tony Stark.