Julia Aoki
DTES Local Area Plan, Public Hearing
Friday, March 14th

Hello, my name is Julia Aoki and I would like to recognize that we are on unceded Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh, and Squamish First Nations territory. I am a PhD candidate in the School of Communication at SFU, a long-time volunteer, and former interim general manager of the Powell Street Festival Society that is held in Oppenheimer Park each year, and for some time (though no longer) I sat on the Oppenheimer Park Commemorative Task Force. I am here speaking on my own behalf.


Crouching in the grass, armed with snipers and dressed in military fatigues, they aim their assault rifles at elders, women, and children. “Don’t point it at my mom,” says one woman. While the sniper refrains, his colleagues continue tasering people. Some have police dogs set on them, while others – including children – are shot at by rubber bullets.

Among the roughly 200 armed RCMP officers, some are from the riot squad, carrying shields, batons, and employing both tear gas and pepper spray against the people. A reporter from the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, Ossie Michelin, overhears one officer say: “Crown land belongs to government, not to fucking natives.” Forming a large barricade on the highway, the RCMP physically blocked protesters, also blocking cell phone signals, live video feeds, and media access to the site. In yesterday’s final account, at least 40 of the Mi’kmaw people, including Elsipogtog Chief Arren Sock, were arrested at the site near Rexton, New Brunswick.

For over two weeks now, a coalition of people led by local Mi’kmaq activists have blockaded the road leading to an equipment compound leased to a Texas-based energy company. The company, Southwestern Energy, has recently conducted seismic testing. Depending on the results, they will use the land to engage in the damaging process of hydraulic-fracturing, or fracking, in order to extract the region’s shale gas resources. Among other things, fracking in the area will contaminate the drinking water, a mainstay of the fracking process globally.

On June 10th, The Mainlander hosted The Foreign Invest Myth: Understanding the Housing Crisis & Confronting Racism in Vancouver, a panel with Jackie Wong, Pablo Mendez and Henry Yu.  Here are the videos (Q & A forthcoming).

Jackie Wong talks about her experience interviewing Chinese seniors who live in Chinatown, and some of the assumptions people make about race, ethnicity and income in Vancouver.

Pablo Mendez looks at the statistical breakdown of renters in Vancouver and talks about the problems with addressing the affordability crisis with an “affordable home ownership” strategy.

Henry Yu talks about the history of racism and colonialism in Vancouver. He talks about the neoliberal market as the driving factor of Vancouver’s affordability crisis.


Public Event
with Jackie Wong, Henry Yu and Pablo Mendez

The Foreign Investment Myth:
Understanding the Housing Crisis & Confronting Racism in Vancouver

7PM, Monday, June 10th, 2013
SFU Harbour Centre (Room TBA)
Vancouver, Unceded Coast Salish Territory

There has been a growing consensus that the lack of affordability in our city is caused by foreign investment from Asia. Since the 1980s, this narrative has relied on Vancouver’s historic penchant for racial scapegoating while downplaying the actual causes of the current housing crisis. In lieu of basic questions about land-use and housing policy, affordability has been reframed around vague racist imperatives. As a result, the reality of the housing crisis has been obscured.

Read Full Article →

This is a response to a recent letter written by Geoff Meggs addressed to The Mainlander and the Vancouver Renters’ Union, in which he accused The Mainlander of “libel” among other things. The letter can be found here.

Readers of The Mainlander know that we write about the ideology of neoliberalism and the urban politics of class, tied to a host of related issues that affect Vancouver: the privatization of housing, inequality, evictions, gentrification, speculation, land exploitation, rent gouging, displacement, and especially, a developer-backed city hall.

For two years we’ve written about these topics without stoking the personal rivalries that pre-date our involvement in politics and our birth as a publication (The Mainlander’s first article was on December 5, 2010). Then, as now, we have no interest in getting into a battle of personalities. Whether it’s Nathan Allen debating Charlie Demers, the cheap rhetoric of City Caucus, or Robertson himself calling community members “fucking NPA hacks,” Vancouver has been plagued by ad hominem politics. Since the split between Larry Campbell (“Cope Lite”/Vision) and Tim Louis (“Cope Classic”), the demonization and vilification of political opponents has been a mainstay.

The slinging of mud is ultimately a shortcut for those who want to avoid political debate. The opposite of mud-slinging, however, is not what Am Johal properly calls the “epidemic of politeness,” but rather the recognition that there is more to Vancouver’s 125 years of politics and economy than “key players” and talking heads. In fact, to understand Vancouver’s unique developer-industrial complex it helps to transplant a phrase from Geoff Meggs’ own letter: “It makes the decisions, not me.” Precisely. Our analysis is directed at the developer-backed system as a whole, held together by the pillars of the private developer monopoly, colonial land inheritance, and the role of the municipal state. As many readers know, both supporters and opponents, this is the framework that guides what we write.