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confluence, episode 25: sick days, snow days and #justiceforcolten

Posted on 10 February 2018

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It snowed

The funny thing about being sick is when one of my co-workers takes time off for a cold or cough or something, I am glad of it. And when someone goes walking around in public while they are still sick I am resentful, because then it is spreading (of course I understand people still have to go out in the world while sick, sometimes to work because they have jobs like that, but still). But when I get sick I feel guilty for taking time off and try to force myself back in, even though if literally anyone else were in the same situation I would tell them to stay home.

Point being, I finally got sick this week after avoiding whatever it is that’s been going around and basically hid out for three days watching The Good Place which is a show that I still haven’t decided whether it’s good or not, but at least it’s interesting (it is, basically, a half-hour sitcom style show about people living in an afterlife that may or may not be heaven but at the very least is prone to error). I am still not fully better, but I went back to work for the last couple of days, no doubt to the resentment of my co-workers.

Also this week it snowed a lot. For the first time since 2014 we had to park our car for a couple days as we waited for the street to be cleared because all our neighbour’s trucks were getting stuck and we have nowhere near that clearance. Which meant I got to and from work using the bus system which, in my case at least, was still pretty reliable despite the bad roads. My only critique, really, is it would be nice to have some way of finding out whether your bus is ten minutes late or actually left ten minutes early, because both happen sometimes and that guessing game is not fun.

My neighbour’s tree disappeared

Still, I got where I was going and city crews came and cleared off our street yesterday so it looks like the new strategy is paying off!

Also, I’m in the midst of rewriting the design of my website which is actually a fun project for me because it satisfies both the design and puzzle-solving portions of my brain, which I don’t use all that often. If you’re, like, really into reading about why I’m doing this again, I recorded it here, just for my own purposes.

Things I wrote and made

At work, I learned about how snow load is measured and why houses built pre-1985ish may be at risk of being damaged in the Bulkley Valley.

And about how the snow and cold is good news for winter festivals happening in Prince George and Fort St. John this weekend.

On the podcast, there is a story about Elderbeary, the mascot for senior citizens in Prince George, being neglected because not enough people volunteer to help seniors, and doggy swimming lessons in Fort St. John, among other things. You can download it now.

Also, in response to a question about diversity on the internet I wrote some very quick thoughts.


Last week, I recommended the CBC Saskatchewan podcast “Boushie” about the trial of Gerald Stanley in the death of 22-year-old Colten Boushie, a case that has crystallized a larger discussion about racism and justice in Canadian society given Boushie’s status as a young Indigenous man and Stanley’s as a white farmer in area marked by racial tension (not unique to that part of Canada but, for now at least, more visible).

Yesterday, Stanley was found not guilty and the intensity of the polarization increased. In Facebook comments there were people celebrating, while on Twitter the #JusticeForColten hashtag took off. In that context, I am coming back to two pieces I read about the case that speak to the larger conversation around it.

The first is Andray Domise on the jury selection process, in which every visibly Indigenous or Indigenous-appearing person was challenged and dismissed as a potential juror. “None of this is to say that a visibly white jury cannot fairly try a murder case,” he writes.

“But where race is a social factor in the case, if not a material factor, the social impact travels far past the courtroom walls. In racially charged cases, convictions rendered by all-white juries against defendants of colour can cause cause widespread community distrust of the criminal justice system. Acquittals of white defendants, by all white juries, where the victim is a person of colour, can do even more damage. Not only can it create a similar loss of trust in the system, it can inculcate self-appointed vigilantes with the belief that the law is engaged in a secret handshake with them.”

The thing about juries, generally, is we know very little about why they make the decisions they do which makes it hard to rule out things like implicit bias being a factor. It’s kind of a matter of faith, and there’s no way to really check on it unlike, say, by examining a judge’s comments on their reasons for a conviction. I suspect this is a conversation to be had, among many others.

The other piece is from the Globe and Mail, in which Boushie’s mother and siblings recount what happened to them when the police showed up to tell them their son/brother had just been killed:

“The officers entered without asking permission and without offering much comfort, Ms. Baptiste said, an account confirmed by William.

“‘They searched everything, like they were looking for somebody, or something,’ Ms. Baptiste said.

“After a few minutes an officer tried to force a weeping Ms. Baptiste to her feet.

“‘He grabbed my wrist right here and he said ‘Ma’am, get yourself together.’ And I told him, ‘No,’ Ms. Baptiste recalled.

“William and his brother Jace Baptiste said the officers also asked if they’d been drinking. They hadn’t. They were waiting for Colten to return home. They even had his dinner ready in the microwave, they told the police. An officer walked over and opened the microwave to check if this was true, an act so presumptuous Ms. Baptiste and her sons dwell on it every time they tell the story of that night. Would the officer have acted the same way in the home of a white family that had just been notified of their son’s murder? Ms. Baptiste doesn’t think so.”

An internal RCMP investigation found the RCMP did nothing wrong because of the “safety risks involved.” According to the Toronto Star report, the family’s allegations “couldn’t be supported” and police acted as they did because they believed someone from the shooting scene may have been in the home. As in the jury selection, there is a sense from the family and community leaders that the system was stacked against them from the start.

There are very different versions of Canada we live in, depending on who we are.

I am also thinking about

Stray bits

Thanks for reading! Remember, if your body is telling you to rest, do it. Take care of yourselves!

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In case you can't read it, someone has written in the snow the words "No we don't"Meadow ski, finallyWelp.Hey look it's Amy Blanding kicking off a sold-out night of @ColdsnapFest 2018! #CityOfPGWell someone has to eat all the Christmas and New Year's leftoversSki daygifts from Prince Rupert #hammy