By Craig Scharien
My own sex education at school (in the mid ‘90s) was not exactly memorable, but there are a couple sections of Sex Talk in the City that remind me of that time of my life. The group of white desks with graffiti all over them certainly conjure up memories of boredom and a lack of true sexual understanding. The other is the giant black cougar on a striking red wall.
For anyone who was watching movies in the 1960s all the way to the 80’s in British Columbia it is easy to recognize the restricted cougar icon that once acted as a warning about questionable content in film. When I was a kid all it meant was that I wasn’t able to watch anything with the cougar on it. The cougar and the fact that it was forbidden meant that I spent a lot of time scouring the restricted section at Canadian Tire (they used to have movies to rent, believe it or not) looking for a movie I could get away with suggesting to my parents.
These days there are boring rating systems that include things like “18A”, but back then the cougar was a symbol of coarse language, violence, nudity and obscenity in general for movies. It was developed by the BC Film Classification Board and the BC Chief Censor, Ray MacDonald at the time. The hope was that the iconic symbol would help raise public awareness of R-rated films. The cougar plays a very effective role at Sex Talk, by reminding many of us of the way censorship has been approached in our province.
It is also a vehicle for articulating an important point – that obscenity is often in the eye of the beholder. Within the exhibition, it has allowed the Museum to present sexually explicit material and stories of censorship by allowing the visitor to opt in to that element of BC’s history. If you are curious you can take a peek through the holes in the cougar to learn about pivotal moments in the history of the production, consumption and censorship of sexually explicit materials. Like the red drawers in the bedroom section of the exhibition the decisions are left to the visitor, thus making moments of discovery just a bit more and powerful.
(Guest post by Arleigh McKerlich)
Children’s book “Asha’s Mums” was one of the first books written for elementary age children that portrayed a family with same-sex parents. Written by Rosamund Elwin and Michele Paulse and illustrated by Dawn Lee, it was first published in 1991.
In the book, Asha is told by her teacher that she can’t go on a field trip because her permission slip is filled out incorrectly and that it is not possible to have two mothers. After her mothers meet with the teacher to explain their daughter’s family situation, Asha is allowed to go on the trip. The other children learn of Asha’s mums and a discussion is had about whether this is a good or bad thing. The conclusion offered by the teacher is that it is just fine, as long as your parents take good care of you.
In 1997, kindergarden teacher James Chamberlain applied for approval of this book and two others (“Belinda’s Bouquet” and “One Dad, Two Dads, Brown Dad, Blue Dads”) for use as teaching aids in his classroom. In response, the Surrey School Board issued resolutions that stated resources from gay and lesbian groups were not approved for use or redistribution in the school district.
After these resolutions were passed, resources like library books, pamphlets, and posters that promoted sexual diversity and tolerance were removed from all Surrey schools. Chamberlain — supported by teachers in other school districts in the Lower Mainland where these materials were allowed — launched a court case to challenge the ruling of the Surrey School Board. After much publicity and appeals by both sides, the case was considered by the Supreme Court of Canada and judgement handed down in 2002. The Court found that the Board’s decision was unreasonable and that the Board had acted contrary to provincial statute as well as its own regulations regarding curriculum materials, both of which stress tolerance and inclusion. The Court directed the decision to be reconsidered by the School District, with Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin noting that “tolerance is always age-appropriate.”
(full text of the decision available at http://www.canlii.org/en/ca/scc/doc/2002/2002scc86/2002scc86.html)
After revisiting its decision in 2003, the Surrey School Board still found “Asha’s Mums”, “Belinda’s Bouquet”, and “One Dad, Two Dads, Brown Dad, Blue Dads” to be inappropriate for use as curriculum material. The Board was critical (among other things) of the books’ depiction of men, problematic and inconsistent grammar, and of the issue of dieting being inappropriate for kindergarden age children.
While 18 of the province's 60 school districts have policies in place regarding anti-homophobia, Burnaby and Surrey School Districts have not been able to develop a policy because of push-back from parents. Recently, protest and submissions from students have led the Surrey School District to say last summer that they would begin developing an anti-bullying policy in the fall that includes anti-homophobia strategies, as well as racism and physical disability
Win a seat on a private patio with 100.5 The PEAK during The Celebration of Light Fireworks!
100.5 The PEAK wants you to experience The Celebration of Light Fireworks in VIP Style at The Museum of Vancouver's Fireworks Patio Party!
On August 1st, Brazil will be lighting up the sky and you and a guest could be enjoying it from The Museum of Vancouver's private patio in Vanier Park with 100.5 The PEAK. You'll get a gourmet Brazilian BBQ courtesy of The Butler Did It Catering - voted Vancouver's Best Catering Company - and Lonsdale Event Rentals will be donating all the party supplies.
The only way to join 100.5 The PEAK at The Museum of Vancouver's Fireworks Patio Party is to win your way in!
Listen to PEAK Mornings at 9:30am to win a spot for you and a friend on the exclusive guest list and keep your eye on The 100.5 The PEAK - World Class Rock Facebook Page because we'll be giving away a few invites there too. Plus, we have some spots saved just for PEAK VIPs, so increase your chances of joining us by entering online now. Not a PEAK VIP? sign up today.
* The Online Contest closes Sunday, July 29 at Midnight.
* You Must be 19 + to attend this event.
Lost your compass and looking for the path creatively travelled? This hand-illustrated map of Vancouver has delighted the audience engagement office at the MOV. We love coming across artistic gems like “they draw and travel” which celebrate unique perspectives on the world. Here’s another, which takes a “higher” perspective on mapping the city’s history.
There are some maps, however, that make us queasy – particularly the map that draws a thick oily squiggle into Burrard Inlet care of daily Kinder Morgan oil tankers cruising along our captivating coastline. Vancouver’s Mayor Robertson seems to feel the same and has sent a warning cry to citizens in his Vancouver Sun op-ed article. Read it.
Then there are some trails that carve themselves. Like the bamboo bicycle trail. A new venture in Vancouver is seeing the procurement of bamboo bike frames as a way to increase sustainability and local production of transportation materials. If you’re interested, they’ll be at “Bike the Blossoms” http://www.vcbf.ca/events/bike-the-blossoms this Saturday, and the upcoming Sustainability Expo http://vancouver.epicexpo.com/. Not to be confused with the Fan Expo that happened over the past weekend.
Little did we know… YVR loves to dress up! Last weekend’s Fan Expo brought loads of people downtown dressed in their favourite superhero/ comic character/ legendary villain attire. Lucky you, the MOV is giving you a chance to dress up for our Mother’s Day High Tea @MOV – explore the Art Deco Chic exhibit in classic 1920’s style with your mum.
At the MOVeum: Art Deco Chic Curator’s Talk and Tour with Joan Seidl – May 3, 7-9
MOV Walking Tours are back! Home: An Exploration takes place May 6, 10:30am
[Image: Illustrated by Adela Kang c/o They Draw and Travel]
Found amid an explosion of DIY creativity ranging from homemade airplanes and robots to gigantic Mondospiders, the Museum of Vancouver Youth Council shared their exhibit, Concrete Expressions, at the first-ever Vancouver Mini Maker Faire. This community event served as fantastic conclusion to the first youth council team at the MOV.
Beginning in February 2011, a group of creative youth ages 16-18, from around Vancouver joined in a weekend long conversation at the MOV to discuss ideas of concern to youth in Vancouver. Housing & homelessness, our environmental footprint, art and performance, and multiculturalism topped the list – no small issues, to say the least. More challenging, would be deciphering how to represent these issues in physical format. After a few more brainstorming sessions, the youth council decided to combine notions of street art with environmental sustainability, and repurpose plastic bags to create a gigantic knitted "plastic scarf" with which to yarnbomb the iconic crab statue in front of the MOV. Essentially bringing street art to the doorstep of the institution, and carrying the conversation beyond the museum’s walls.
“If I were to describe the youth council in one word, it would probably be 'unpredictable' - in a good way.” Says youth council member Chenoa Lui. “The creativity and dedication of everyone involved helped shape a most unique and exciting project that turned out to be nothing like what we first imagined, yet at the same time, nothing short of amazing.”
Additionally, the council members created a documentary film about the process of creating the scarf, and invited young musicians and spoken word performers to join a night of “Concrete Expression” at the museum on May 14th. Watch the video here.
In summarizing her experience, Tina Yuan states, “Youth Council really brought me a whole new opportunity to explore my own potential with others like me, and I really enjoyed the whole experience of putting up an exhibit.”
From the outset, the youth council divided into three teams of multimedia producers, curators, and event programmers for a very busy 10 weeks together. Inspired by an initial tour of the MOV’s archival collections from Joan Seidl, council members were encouraged and mentored by museum staff Carman Kwan, Gala Milne, Amanda Gibbs, and media producer Selina Crammond. Overall coordination was carried out by Vancouver media educator Wendy Chen, and special thanks is extended to the Vancouver Design Nerds, and Birkeland Brothers Wool Company for their aid and encouragement of Concrete Expressions. Funding support for this project was graciously provided through the BC Arts Council, City of Vancouver, Vancouver Foundation, Vi Nguyen and the Youth Philanthropy Council, and the Chris Spencer Foundation.
“What I really liked or even just thought was cool was that young people like me, were able to come together and put their ideas together and make something out of it. This was my first time working in a youth council and we weren't able to make something completely crazy and revolutionizing, but in the future I really believe that this kind of youth council will make a bigger impact. In the future, I look forward to see a youth council that is mature enough to get a job done and yet creative enough to be revolutionizing. I think that is what youth is all about." - Chano Huang
A huge thank you goes to the council members who volunteered their time after class and between other volunteer commitments to take part in this pilot project. Your dedication and enthusiasm for participating in a Museum of Vancouver project was truly inspiring. As many of the council members have expressed interest in continuing participation at the MOV, the Museum of Vancouver expects to facilitate future youth-driven community conversations and projects.
Thank-you so much to all the youth council members and we look forward to working with you soon!
A (belated) thank you to the 100+ invited guests who attended “Spark! Ignite Your Curiosity,” a gala the Museum hosted last week to showcase items from our collection, and introduce our new vision, new website, and new public programs. Champagne and Pilsner Urquell flowed, Goby Catt and the Catt Pack played jazz, and our views of English Bay offered an incredible vantage point for the “Celebration of Light” fireworks displays that capped off the evening. We hope you enjoyed the night as much as we did.
Image credit: Philippe Antes