Starting a public conversation in our country about the crime of sexual assault. 

CCEC Member Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter is a long time champion women’s rights and fair treatment before the law. Recent court decisions and reported incidents have brought the issue to public prominence once again.  

Regardless of whether you feel the verdict in the Ghomeshi case was justified, it has prompted mainstream media to print editorials including  Time to drop the distinct crime of sexual assault and not as main stream to continue the conversation such as, Ghomeshi: a post verdict update in the Oracle.

In response to a video posted on facebook that went viral called, Your offender isn't a creep': One woman's story of reporting a sexual assault”, Louisa Russell, Spokesperson for the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter  says, “I thought she was brave to speak out about the violence committed against her in her own name. Her experience is typical of what women tell us on our crisis line. I fully agreed with what she said about not going alone to the Police.” 

She continues by saying that her organization carried out a research project on attrition rates in Canada and found that the likelihood of a case proceeding to court went up drastically if the woman took an independent women's advocate with her.  Representatives of the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women's Shelter stay beside a woman throughout the criminal justice process and help prepare her for what to expect. Louisa says, “We know that most women do not want to use the police but for the 30% of our callers that do we go out of our way to make sure she gets the best response possible.” 

Be sure to support the work of the Women’s Shelter in their Annual Walk on May 29.  Funds raised will help pay for the operating costs of the rape crisis centre, the help-line, the transition house including food, transportation for women to get to safety, attend support groups and legal clinics, creating sexual assault prevention materials and public education in the community.

The outcome of the recent high-profile sexual assault case in Toronto prompted Jackie Stevens, Avalon Sexual Assault Centre in Halifax to say, “we want to express our deep admiration and respect for the survivors who so courageously came forward in this case. Their willingness to come forward has started a public conversation in our country about the crime of sexual assault, a conversation we hope will help create a safer environment for others to come forward.”

Sexual assault is not the survivor's fault and is a violent crime. What clothes a person wore, where they were, who they were with, or whether they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of their assault is irrelevant. The only person responsible for a sexual assault is the person who commits the crime.

For more information and to support the work of Rape Relief:

Tel: 604 872 8212


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Did you know?  In Vancouver:

  •  65,000 people who are spending more than 50% of their income on housing are facing homelessness. 
  • BC Housing has 5 year wait list. One person was told he better be prepared to go to a shelter as there are an awful lot of people like him on fixed incomes and facing renovictions.
  • More than half of Vancouverites live in rental housing.  But more than 81 per cent of the current rental housing was built in the 50’s and needs upgrading.
  •  People most affected are too busy surviving and lack the capacity to fight. 

Meet CCEC Member and Inman Award Nominee, The Social Housing Alliance (SHA), who are changing their name to Alliance Against Displacement.  They feel this will better represent their movement's roots in displacement due to real estate, and Indigeneous displacement due to resource extraction.  Sign up for their newspaper, The Volcano, and learn how our low-income, working class & Indigenous communities are struggling for social justice in Vancouver & in BC. 

Why we belong to CCEC:  
CCEC reflects our movement’s values.

Housing, like food, is a basic human right.  We all need affordable, good, secure housing to live a healthy life, to enjoy our friends and families, and to contribute to our communities.  Vancouver and BC has a housing crisis.

Those at risk of being homeless are not only in the Downtown Eastside.  For example, SFU students are evicted from student housing; and renoviction is becoming too common in the Metrotown area.  It used to be that you were evicted for being a bad tenant. Today, you’re more likely to be evicted because you’re in the way of someone maximizing their profit.

Letizia Waddington, volunteer organizer says, “We see the need to organize on a daily basis, the challenge is that people most affected are too busy surviving, and the greater proportion of British Columbians believe that they will be fine with working hard.”


Their platform to end the housing crisis in BC is: 

·         BUILD 10,000 units of good quality social housing per year.

·         FUND and support community-based solutions to the housing crisis.

·         PRIORITIZE social housing for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness and those most discriminated against.

·         SAVE existing low-rent housing.

·         PROTECT and empower tenants.

·         INCLUDE everyone who needs housing.

For more information:  The website is being updated. 


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The 2015 Roger Inman Memorial Award recipient has had a busy year.  The organization is a grassroots anti-colonial migrant justice group with leadership from members of migrant and/or racialized backgrounds. 

Brian Peaslee, organizer says of the Award, "The generous funding  we received was used to help cover legal fees for migrants facing deportation from Canada."

He adds that in addition to direct support for migrants, over the past year they also helped to organize a benefit concert that raised over $15,000  for a healing lodge at the Unist’ot’en Camp who are fighting  for indigenous sovereignty against pipelines in in Northern BC.  They produced an extensive report, web site and video series on the effects of changes to migration policy in Canada and took a lead role in the Refugees Welcome and Transportation Not Deportation campaigns in Vancouver. 

The Annual Community March Against Racism came back to the Drive for its eighth year in March and was a great opportunity to gather together and raise our voices against injustice.   Support the work of No One is Illegal-Vancouver Coast Salish Territories.

Click here to learn more and to become a financial sustainer.  Recipient of the Roger Inman Memorial Award in 2015.  Nominations are being accepted for the 2016 Award. Click here for more information on the Inman Award and for the nomination criteria.

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Medical cannabis dispensaries in Canada face a substantial hurdle doing business because the big banks have declined to provide services.  An excellent article in the Globe and Mail surveys the challenges, especially in light of the pending major changes to our federal laws.  

CCEC is highlighted in the article as an agent of change, because it has agreed to provide banking services. As noted in the Globe article, provincial governments, health authorities and even the Supreme Court of Canada have affirmed that access is essentially a health issue. CCEC has agreed.   

CCEC wants to build healthy and just communities, by empowering ordinary people. Political and social change is underway and there are roles for community groups and community-based financial institutions to play.  CCEC may be small, but we can have impact. 

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Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz spoke at UBC last Friday and made the case that growing inequality in modern day America (and Canada) is a result of political choices we have made; the failed experiment of trickle down neo-conservative policies that have been advocated since the 70's. He boldly advanced the need for a new political agenda that will give ordinary people a bigger share of the pie. 

The presentation included graphs on income distribution, wealth distribution and other factors over the last 100 years, and the data clearly indicates the fact that the very rich have benefited handsomely since 1970, while others have barely held their own. He then provided comparisons between nation states to show that social equality was not so skewed elsewhere; in Scandinavia, western Europe, Japan and Canada the inequalities are modest compared to the USA. Approximately 20% aggregate 'income' in the USA goes to the top 1% of the population. 

He asserts that the rules of the game (video, Democracy Now), that is the legal and tax systems in the USA, the UK and New Zealand (and to some degree Canada), have been set to ensure the rich get richer. The analysis has been set out in two books by Siglitz over the last 6 years; The Price and Inequality and The Great Divide.  He argues that it is time for ordinary people to challenge the privileges given to the very wealthy. He referred attendees to the Roosevelt Institute for additional insights and proposals. He eloquently argued that the erosion of the 'equality of opportunity' will lead to potentially immense social and economic costs. And he held up a copy of his just published book Rewriting the Rules of the American Economy.

He closed his remarks with a pointed critique of the Trans Pacific Partnership ("TPP"), an international 'trade' agreement now being promoted in Canada and the USA. Stiglitz represented the deal as entrenching benefits for large corporations and international finance, and undermining democratic governments. He specifically noted that the TPP went well beyond 'trade' to impose limits on government regulation, government purchasing, and tax policies; and would have disputes settled by 'private' arbitration rather than in public courts. It can be noted that opponents to the TPP include the Council of Canadians, Open Media and Doctors Without Borders. 



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Distraction, apathy and disengagement are rotting the foundation of western democratic traditions.  While it is tempting to repeat well known aphorisms about what a great place Canada may be, there is an underside of inequality, poverty, plunder and amorality that is both present and ominous.  For many, the challenge of these political 'realities' provides purpose and for many others this emerging global corporate empire is overwhelming.  

But the temptation to watch sports and reality TV, to binge in online games or HBO offerings, and to turn hotel chefs into celebrities is actually part of a a larger social pattern,  The Four Horsemen is a feature length documentary film that lays out a cogent and constructive overview of just what is going on; how certain ideas have become mainstream and blinded us, and how democratic institutions have been subverted.  The film, from the Renegade Economist  (Ross Ashcroft), features several notable thinkers and writers, including Joseph Stiglitz, Herman Daly, Noam Chomsky, and John Perkins.  

Notably, it outlines the need for local institutions and projects to counter this global 'financialization' project. It also emphasizes the need to participate, apathy serves the interests of the rich and privileged.   


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CCEC Member, Discovery Organics is organizing a panel discussion about Farm Working conditions on Friday, June 5th at 6pm downtown Vancouver.  In our backyard, the Fraser Valley, there are many migrant farm workers that are mistreated.  Learn more!


More than half of the produce you buy in the supermarket comes from California or Mexico.  

“Arrests as Mexico farming wage strike turns violent” Aljazeera – May 12th                                                            

… “Farmworkers in Baja California protest low pay, poor conditions”

… “Many laborers stayed away from the fields Tuesday and hundreds spilled onto the highway, where they barricaded the road and burned tires.”LA Times – March 18th                      

…”Labour exploitation, slave-like conditions found on farms supplying biggest supermarkets” – ABC News Australia – May 7th


Locally, agriculture is one of the most dangerous jobs for the 10,000 immigrant and migrant workers in our horticultural industry. This workforce, is one of the lowest paid, least protected, and most vulnerable occupational categories in the province. 

To what extent can we claim our food system to be sustainable?  What needs to be implemented to reach social sustainability in our food system, both locally and globally?

For more, watch Product of Mexico – Behind the Scenes video


David Fairey has an MA in Labour Economics from the University of British Columbia. He has been a Labour Research Economist and Labour Relations Consultant in BC for over 30 years, and Director of the Trade Union Research Bureau since 1989. David is now the director of Labour Consulting Services and is also a CCPA–BC research associate.

Colette Cosner is the executive director of the Domestic Fair Trade Association—a coalition of stakeholders throughout the US and Canadian food and farming systems dedicated to health, justice, and sustainability. Originally from the east coast, Colette moved to Seattle in 2009 to work for YES! Magazine. Since then she has served as the Regional Organizer of Witness for Peace Northwest, the Communications Association for Cultivate Impact, and a board member for the Washington Fair Trade Coalition. She is the co-author of “Farmers at the Table: Connecting Food and Trade Justice.”

Gerardo Otero is professor of Sociology and Latin American Studies at Simon Fraser University. He is the author or editor of four books and dozens of scholarly articles and book chapters. His new edited book is Food for the Few: Neoliberal Globalism and the Biotechnology Revolution in Latin America, published in 2008 by The University of Texas Press.

Fr. Patrick Murphy is the director of Casa del Migrante, a house of hospitality in Tijuana where migrants receive room and board as well as medical assistance and orientation regarding migrant issues. Fr. Pat has been a member of the Missionaries of St. Charles – The Scalabrians since his first profession. During the course of his seminary formation, Fr. Patrick had the opportunity to live both in Mexico and Puerto Rico.

Mark Thompson is a professor of Social Sciences at the Sauder School of Business at UBC. He teaches Industrial Relations in the Organizational Behaviour and Human Resources Division. His research interests involve but are not limited to the impact of NAFTA labour accords and the management of industrial relations. He has published numerous scholarly articles, book chapters and papers on industrial relations, collective bargaining and occupational health and safety.

Please RSVP to Julie Sage, Discovery Organics Fairtrade Certification and Marketing Director:   

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The National Energy Board (NEB) review of the Kinder Morgan pipeline project is not an open, fair and unbiased assessment serving the best interests of the public, in the opinion of Robyn Allan.  "The game is rigged," she writes.  Consequently, Ms. Allan (an independent economist and former ICBC CEO) has chosen to withdraw from the NEB review process; her letter outlines her concerns and provides good supporting evidence: The NEB has adopted an exceptionally narrow scope, and has deemed substantial public concerns as "inadmissible". The NEB has adopted practices that subvert procedural fairness and principles of natural justice.  And, the NEB is biased in favour of the proponent, and the interests of the resource industry, and does not serve the greater public interest.   

Ms. Allan's analysis and questions, as an intervenor, have been excellent and on point for more than a year.  Her efforts to scrutinize the project proposal have to be commended.  She has no stake in the project and has represented a broad public interest in her views.  Her decision to withdraw as an intervenor, along with the withdrawal of Marc Eliesen last month, is another sorry comment on the lack of integrity of this regulatory review. 

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The Board at CCEC  Credit Union supports the $10 a Day Child Care Plan  proposed by the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC.

We share the belief that all young children should have the right to participate in quality early care and learning programs that meet their needs.  With this plan, child care would cost families $10 a day for full-time enrollment & there would be a sliding scale based on income and terms of enrollment..  

If you are a BC parent in the labour force and have a young child — chances are it’s been hard for you to find affordable, quality child care. And, if you have found a child care arrangement that works for you — chances are you feel ‘lucky’ even though you are all too aware of the high cost of care.

It’s important to remember that most BC families with young children are also experiencing a child care crisis. It's most likely not surprising to you that:
Canada ranks last among developed countries in supporting quality early care and learning programs?
BC has licensed child care spaces for only about 20 per cent of children.
Fees are high because — unlike libraries, parks and schools that receive public funds to cover some operating costs — child care is primarily a user fee service.
Even high fees paid by parents aren’t enough to pay early childhood educators a living wage

BC has a child care crisis that isn't improving. Check their website to learn more.  


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What if sharing isn’t always caring? Problematizing the sharing economy

 In February, CCEC was honoured to have Hilary Henegar of Modo Car Co-op give the opening address to the Member’s Forum after our Annual General Meeting. Hilary inspired us with a whimsical tale of building a garden bed using the power of the sharing economy. Muscles were flexed, free wood was hauled, friendships were made, beers were drunk, and ultimately, plants were grown.

 It was beautiful. And that’s the point of the sharing economy: people-to-people connection circumvents commercial places of exchange. “Getting things done” becomes cheaper, more accessible, and more human.

 But does the “sharing economy” actually redistribute resources, or merely circulate them within the middle and upper classes? Last month, Ross Gentleman directed us to a blog post examining how we might ensure distributive justice in the sharing economy. Participating in the sharing economy is circumscribed in many ways: it may require having pre-existing social networks of people who have access to space, tools, time and know-how. It may require having “stuff” of your own to share. It probably requires access to the internet, since many sharing platforms (think Craigslist or Shareable) are online.

 In an age when Vancouver’s mayoral candidates promise things like city-wide wifi, this may not seem like a problem.

 But it can be, according to Roundtable participant Richard Marquez, a Chicano hailing from San Francisco’s Mission District and working as residential co-ordinator with Vancouver’s Lookout Emergency Aid Society. “In the Downtown  Eastside,” he explained, “it’s a digital divide here, it’s actually digital darkness for most of the people in our buildings –  few residents have laptops or can afford private access to the internet.” Herb Varley, a DTES resident, grassroots organizer, and longtime peer/advocate for Indigenous youth, also pointed out that many people in the DTES lack access to cell phones or any phone where they can make more than a two-minute phone call. If that makes government bureaucracy nearly impossible to navigate, it certainly shuts those people out of online sharing networks.

 If CCEC’s mandate is to be a leader in “economic change,” how can we help bridge that digital divide in Canada’s most stratified city? Many roundtable participants imagined CCEC harnessing the passion and skills of our membership and channeling them toward those who are disadvantaged. We heard about possible volunteer programs around financial literacy, ID card access, consumer counselling, and indebtedness.

 Emma Sutherland, director of Red Fox Healthy Living Society, put it this way: “People are asked to give their money all the time, but what people want to do often is to see that they’re making a real difference, and have that relationship. I know for a lot of our youth, if they meet somebody from CCEC, especially if they’re introduced by someone from Red Fox, they’re going to feel comfortable. Because people here [at CCEC] get class, race, poverty; they understand it.”

Would you participate in a financial literacy initiative at CCEC? Let us know! This option will be explored over the coming months, as CCEC’s Board of Directors drafts a new strategic plan.

 Nat Marshik is a writer, sauerkraut maker, and visual artist currently working for CCEC as a community engagement organizer. You can also find Nat’s blogs all in one place here

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