Herb Varley

Articles by Herb Varley

sixnat2Revisiting the Tao of Deception in Canada’s colonial war on the poor

The Tao (way) of deception, Tabula Raza (empty slate or no history), Terrus Nullius (empty land): these are some of the ways that the country now known as Canada has naturalized or indigenized its presence here. I’m going to share a few very brief thoughts on how these concepts have been used in the past as well as the present. (…)

right-to-remain-evite_adWorking Towards an Open, Tolerant Society – Closing Thoughts on Phase 1 of the Right to Remain Project

Canada likes to present itself to the world in a certain way. The image of Canada is often that of an open, tolerant, society; one that anyone can come to and thrive in, just as long as they work hard. One thing that we have learned over the course of the “Right to Remain” project is that this image of Canada is largely a work of fiction. (…)


varley-gentrification-storm-mapBrief reflections on community displacement and the strategy of “Touching the Corners”

Developers see the Downtown Eastside (DTES) as a gold mine of development potential. The city government wants to “revitalize” the area with this real estate development. People of the DTES have built a community out of some of the toughest conditions imaginable and they don’t want to move. The city can’t make the residents disappear overnight. In order to remove the low-income community the city (knowingly or not) has actually used concepts described by a master swordsman. (…)

oppenheimer-copyVoices from the Oppenheimer Tent City

It’s about 12:00 in the afternoon, on a sweltering day about 4 weeks into the encampment at Oppenheimer Park. The camp seems to grow and become more and more intricate as days turn into weeks. People are sitting around talking, just like I used to with my brothers and sisters in the living room of our old apartment. Others are picking up garbage and dishes. (…)


suntzuSun Tzu (The Art of War) & the DTES Local Area Plan

How can an ancient Chinese text and the Local Area Plan (LAP) be connected? Well for starters, I read the book several times while I was co-chair of the LAP process. As I read the book, its teachings slowly entered my mind, and mixed in with my own wisdom and experience. The students of Sun Tzu call this the art of taking whole. (…)

action-campUnist’ot’en Action Camp – Connecting the struggles

The Unist’ot’en camp has been going on for 4 years and is located along the Morice River, which is in Wetsu’wet’en unceded territory. The camp stands in the path of a Pacific Trails Pipeline that would carry natural gas from northeastern BC to Kitimat. This would also pave the way for other projects from the Tar Sands. Grass roots families of the Unist’ot’en said “No” to the project and asserted their sovereignty over the land. Before coming on to the land, visitors are asked who they are, what their purpose is on the land, how long they will stay, and how their stay will benefit the Unist’ot’en, and if they work for government or industry. This protocol that every visitor must go through has helped the Unist’ot’en keep people from resource extraction industries off of the land. It affirms the sovereignty of the people and their responsibility to the land, without asking for it or demanding it from some one else. It is really empowering. (…)


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