A thinking person’s guide to becoming an Instantory

Since announcing my intention to join the Conservative Party of Canada, just this past Friday, I’ve run into a number of points of confusion about what this means. I’d like to take a moment to clear these up.

  • This is a new idea

Left leaning Albertans have been taking out conservative party membership for decades, long before Amy Millan and Torquil Campbell suggested it on Twitter, because in a province with such a strong, enduring conservative leadership, joining the party was the only way to feel like you had any control over who ended up running your province. A friend’s mother called it being an “Instantory”—a portmanteau of Instant and Tory, which I love, and so have used in the title of this post. She did this twice during leadership races but ultimately gave up when people like Ralph Klein just kept getting voted in.

  • Joining the Conservative Party requires you to go to an actual party.

As much as I like the idea of acquiring a Sarah Palin chestnut wig to cover my blue hair and spending a few hours at Value Village tracking down the kind of matching skirt and blazer that would make an Ayn Rand heroine jealous, it’s not actually necessary. Like most things these days, voting for the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada is carried out remotely.

Someday in April, I’ll be getting a ballot, which I will fill out and mail back and the deed will be done. I won’t even have to prep a number of stories about hunting deer with my grandpa’s rifle to charm party members into submission before I willfully subvert their party’s democratic processes. Sadly. Continue reading

Storytelling Show – Hoda Hamouda

“A multiplicity of perspectives is what we need to understand ourselves and each other better.” – Designer Hoda Hamouda

World events over the past few weeks, and particularly this weekend, have reminded me of this Storytelling Show conversation I had in January 2016 with my brilliant Emily Carr U colleague, designer Hoda Hamouda. Here we discuss her work surrounding Tahrir Square during the 2011 revolution in Egypt and how citizen media can counter hegemonic narratives in times of resistance.

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Notes on Hesitation

I wrote this bit of flash fiction in response to an image by Juan Travieso.

word and colour

350dpi009The birds in my neighbourhood are having an existential crisis. They’re hesitating on their branches, resting for a moment longer than they should. Even when I scream and stomp my feet at the foot of the tree, they stand there, thinking about whether or not to fly away, wondering if it even matters.

              I learned the term “existential crisis” from my English teacher because we’re reading The Stranger by Albert Camus. I’m in this advanced class where everything is so deep. I love it. Anyway, the birds, right? I think I noticed it before I learned the word—is that possible? Can you notice something subtle like that and then learn the word for it, or is it kind of invisible until you can name it? I guess it doesn’t matter—the point is I’ve learned it and I can’t unlearn it.

              It’s weird because I was pretty sure flying…

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Storytelling Show – Sasha Singer-Wilson

“Some of my peers in the community who are making exciting work are on the edge of an exciting breakthrough. I feel like folks are craving work that breaks boundaries and is not pretty but brave.” – My Ocean playwright Sasha Singer-Wilson talking about contemporary theatre in Vancouver. Also mentioned: tense family dinners, Fringe guilt, and epigenetics

Check out her work at www.sashasingerwilson.com.

The songs we mentioned have been removed from the file for copyright purposes. They are The Shore by Basia Bulat, Lost Cause by Hannah Georgas and Youth by Luca Fogale. The final song was Damp Animal Spirits by Tanya Tagaq.

Storytelling Show – Francine Cunningham

“What makes me angry is when people say just get over it. But what people don’t realize is that it has literally changed your DNA. Once people understand that, we can have a conversation.”
-Indigenous writer and artist Francine Cunningham talks about the legacy of residential schools in her family, writing about mental illness, and art making.

Check out her website: www.francinecunningham.ca/

The songs we mentioned have been removed from the file for copyright purposes. They are Uja by Tanya Tagaq, Stadium Pow Wow by A Tribe Called Red and Clumsy by Our Lady Peace. The final song was Rideback by Hannah Georgas.


Storytelling Show – Minah Lee

This Sunday on The Storytelling Show, I had the pleasure of interviewing poet and artist Minah Lee who has been a part of the Vancouver culture scene since moving here from South Korea nine years ago. We talked about the challenges around artists seeking permanent residency in Canada as well as creating between cultures and languages.

Lee has made her visual poem “Mirror” available online here.


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Gender and theatre criticism

Chair signAs a freelance theatre critic, my work sometimes feels like a return to Girl Guide camp, with counsellor figures cautioning me about where I should and should not tread. In April, I wrote a review of the Vancouver premiere of the play Dead Metaphor by Governor General Award–winning playwright George F. Walker, and the warnings turned to klaxons.

I wrote about being a female theatre critic and gender inequality in Canadian theatre for the Walrus. Read the article here.