Hello everyone, I hope this weeks article finds you well. In terms of the title of the article, let me explain. I have a very good friend Dave, whom I share more laughs per hang out then almost any other person. Dave has been courteous enough to read my blog and forward me inspirational songs for each province. BC was “I Will not be Broken” by Ben Harper, the title of which I yelled at many a mountain or headwind. For Alberta he gave me a song from the Lord of the Rings soundtrack that plays when the light is given to Frodo, here is what Dave wrote to me “”May it be a light for you in dark places, as all other lights go out”. May it assist your meditation as you travel through Canada’s Mordor””.
(For those interested, the first link is where the quote is from and the second link is the song Dave forwarded me)
I know right?! Some heavy shit from Dave. I feel his song and description are fairly apt. Unfortunately the reality is many people rely on the employment of Northern Alberta to feed their families. Also Alberta is often refereed to as the “Texas of Canada” and Northern Alberta in particular as “Mordor”. Some photos do seem as though the evil lord Sauron is amassing an army of Orcs there.
(Actual picture of Northern Alberta tar sands )
(Computer generated Mordor, you can see the similarities)
I had really intended to write this weeks article focusing on the biking of B.C. however that is not where my head is at right now. With the latest government green lights on pipeline projects, many Canadians are a buzz with confusion, worry and frustration. Which in my opinion are appropriate feelings to have.
While I travelled through BC I did not get a sense that the citizens there had any desire for a pipe line. The demographic of people I socialize with, evidently skews these findings however, I do feel the majority (probably even the vast majority) of British Colombians do not want a pipeline.
(This is what the majority of people in BC look like “Peace and love man, say no to pipelines. I haven’t done my taxes for the last 17 years the same goes for showeing!”)
However, like Dorthy I am no longer in Kansas any more. And as I entered Calgary there were some very dark clouds on the horizon and I couldn’t stop saying “one does not simply bike into Mordor!”.
(Weirdly enough yes you do)
Banff and Canmore still felt like BC, but Calgary feels very Albertan. People are not running around with guns and trying to fight me. Nor are they aggressive or mean, on the contrary people are generally nice and courteous people. There is however a feel and a sense that the oil industry is the accepted life blood here. That it is what needs to be done and the many well paid professionals here have accepted and now support continual growth and “development” of the tar sands. Who knows if I lived here and got paid the astounding incomes that many of them earn, I could very well be living under the same paradigm.
With different paradigms comes social pressures to conform to them and unfortunately even I am not immune to social pressures. For instance with the advice of my current host, I decided not to make fun of the oil sands in my last stand up routine here in Calgary. An act I feel is cowardly and doing so has not sat well with me over the last 24 hours. Censoring oneself to curtail to local ideologies is not something I want to prescribe to. I would like to clarify that it’s always a good idea to know your audience and tell appropriate jokes, grandma might not relate to your jokes about Tinder, but not at the expense of compromising your core values and beliefs. Something I feel I did 😦
(I always swipe right, but I never get a match, this thing must be broken…)
My actions were humbling and a little horrifying. I am pretty vocal about a need to change the direction we are going so to hide my feelings and beliefs to not disturb the status quo is the exact opposite of what I want to be doing.
This brings me to a quote my father gave me from a German friend of his. While living in Canada he critiqued our behaviour and it become evident that we were a docile people who tolerated our “rights” being stepped on. His quote went something like this, make sure you use a German accent I have written it as such so it helps with the voice.
“Vat is vrong vis you Canadians, I have been arrested a number of times for protesting, but ven zings happen here, you do nozing. You let it happen and just tolerate it. You have to stand up for vat you believe in.”
This is something I just did, implementing the Canadian docility, trying to make everyone happy and cause the lease disruption as possible. This is a trait I don’t think serves us well any more and I personally look to the First Nations for guidance and leadership in the coming storm. They have a lot of wisdom and are a strong culture. They are some of the few Canadians who are not relying solely on social media for change but go out and say “No I will not let these projects happen. They will not serve my interest or the interest of future generations”.
I was also fortunate to have a great and influential professor whom in the very first lecture shared a scenario that has stuck with me to this day. He felt that in Canada we would not see the people get active until we either saw a tank on the streets or empty shelves in our grocery stores. If we continue on our current path his predictions may be accurate.
(“I hope my actions and bravery won’t be forcibly erased from my countries memory… also I hope oil companies don’t get to change Alberta’s school curriculum, wait what both of those happened!?”)
On a positive note while I was fillin water at a spring in Canmore I met a man named Dave. He describe that we were at the point where we as a people we can act as the immune system. We are at the point where we can see, analyse and even feels there is something wrong, something sick in regards to society as a whole. I feel it is time to be the white blood cells and to fight off the infections we are aware of. If we continue to be docile, inactive Canadians our country and potentially the very global eco system we are dependant on may succumb to the modern societal disease of infinite growth on a finite planet. But we are becoming more and more aware. And once an immune system is aware of an infection it fights it off, otherwise it succumbs to the disease. These are my feelings on the matter, how do you feel?
Well that’s the heavy stuff of the article, I apologize for not writing about biking as promised but this was stuff I really needed to address and I promised there will be an article focusing on the biking end. However now to transition to what has happened to me over the last week.
I spent nearly a week in Banff staying with my awesome aunt and uncle and cannot thank them enough. I also did 3 open mics while in Banff, 2 of which went amazing and 1 of which I bombed as a result of the venue. Through these open mics I met a number of awesome people highlighted by a very cool band called The Shrugs check them out (http://theshrugsmusic.com/). I Hope Catherine, Stephanie and Brandon have a great summer playing excellent tunes, hopefully they may even do a loft jam cameo.
When I met The Shrugs, I also met their very cool friend, and now my cool friend Raffi. Raffi worked at a Yuks Yuks club and has been living in Banff. The two of us really resonated and Raffi gave me some excellent tips for my stand up, which I have implemented and already seen awesome results. Like so many times in this trip we connected at just the right time.
Speaking of connecting at the right time, my host in Canmore Marc, took me to me a women I will call The Oracle. Think of the lady from the Matrix. She was a very wise old women whom again showed up at just the right time in this trip.
(“Dion don’t be a dick”. “Wow I never thought of it that way”)
This trip has been a lot about people and experience and my host Marc was kind enough to give me two experiences on two totally different spectrum’s. Marc cleans out grease traps, and it’s way grosser than it sounds. We went into a restaurant in Banff to vacuum out the most disgusting, gross smelling and horrendous meat sludge by products I’ve ever encountered. Part of the reason I don’t eat industrial meat is so I can avoid this grotesque shit. I dry heaved a number of times, but again it’s great to get different experiences and helping Marc with the grease trap was the dirtiest job I’ve ever done :/.
(I wish photos had smello vision)
Bonus, Raffi worked at the restaurant we were at!
To contrast that experience Marc took me and his friend Katcha on a 50 km bike ride into the wilderness of Canore where he had found a canoe someone stashed in a secret little lake. The 3 of us paddled down this secluded canyon and parked on the other side for tea and lunch. Easily one of the more surreal and probably best immersion in nature I’ve had the whole trip. Thanks for the hosting Marc and I hope your upcoming bike adventure is all that you hope it will be.
(“Fuck paddling I’m going to take some selfies!”)
Also look at this cat we met named Mr Mustachio!
Well that sums up my week, thanks for reading I hope you enjoyed this weeks blog post. I will be hitting up another open mic tonight and will leave Calgary towards Saskatoon in the next few days. As per usual if you have any comments, words of wisdom or questions feel free to contact me.