The Electric Pencil

Back from Caraquet and the Grand Tintamarre

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Been off for a little while, but getting back into the swing of things. Funny how even just a week offline can really push you back from all things blogging & tweeting.

At the Grand Tintamarre

At the Grand Tintamarre

I was away on a little road-trip to l’Île d’Orléans, Tadoussac (to see the whales, of course), and Caraquet, NB, for the August 15th Acadian celebrations. It’s the Fête nationale d’Acadie, and they know how to celebrate. Caraquet is a small town of 5,000 people in north-eastern New Brunswick on the shores of the Baie des chaleurs. It’s a beautiful spot, and the hub for Aug. 15th celebrations in the area. On a normal year, the populatin swells to some 10 to 15,000 people. With the Congrès Mondial Acadien in town this year though, 50,000 people filled the main street of Caraquet to celebrate together.

The highlight was definitely the Grand Tintamarre, which roughly translates as The Big Ruckus or Racket. It was in 1755 that thousands of Acadians were deported from their homes in the Bitish colony where Nova Scotia stands today. While thousands died or never returned, some snuck back in, to the area that is now New Brunswick; many more came back when the deportation was eventually lifted, also to settle in New Brunswick.

Since returning, Acadians vowed to never again be forgotten or dismissed, so at 6pm on August 15th they gather in their streets with pots, pans, whistles, horns, and anything else that can make noise, and make the largest ruckus you’ve probably ever heard – for an entire hour. There’s definitely no way you can ignore that noise, and even just experiencing it and the 15th of August celebrations – even once – you’ll never doubt that Acadians are there to stay.

There’s so much history there – and so little of it known outside of the area – that myself and my travel-mates, Philippe and Danielle, couldn’t pass up the opportunity to record parts for the show we co-host on CKUT, Le lendemain de la veille. The result was an hour-long special broadcast that we produced a couple weeks ago. You can listen to the final product (about and hour long) below:

PS – We also had the chance to see the awesome group 1755 in concert. A truly amazing party band – if you ever have the chance to see them live, don’t pass it up. You can hear some of their music and an interview with their fiddler in the clip above, or look them up on Youtube to get an idea of them live…


Written by Tim McSorley

August 31, 2009 at 5:08 pm

Audio from Hoodstock ’09/Fredy Villanueva memorial

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Today was the second and last day of Hoodstock ’09, to commemorate the death of Fredy Villanueva, to remember his life cut too short, and to discuss the questions that his shooting still brings to mind. Questions of racial profiling and police brutality, but also of community response & organising.

Below is some quick edits of audio from the event. More to come, and cleaner version will follow… Feel free to use them for your own work; attribution to myself & CKUT 90.3FM radio would be nice, though.

Aujourd’hui marquait la fin de Hoodstock ’09, évènement pour commémorer le mort de Fredy Villanueva, de s’en souvenir de son vie coupé trop court, et pour discuter des questions que cette tragédie soulèvent. Des questions de profilage racial et la brutalité policière, mais aussi de la réponse de la communauté et comment on s’en organise.

Ci-dessous sont quelques pièces audio de l’évèment, monté assez vite… D’autres clips s’en viennent, et des versions plus ‘net’ suivront sous peu… Utilisez les clips pour votre propre travail, mais SVP attribuer-les à moi et à CKUT 90,FM

Patricia, soeur de Fredy Villanueva:

Manon Massé, travailleuse communautaire et candidate de Québec solidaire:

Mohamed Bennis, père de Mohamed Anas Bennis abattu par des policiers du SPVM:

Written by Tim McSorley

August 10, 2009 at 3:32 am

Who’s afraid of Hoodstock?

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logo-hoodstock-091Hoodstock ’09 is this weekend – two days to mark the passing of Fredy Villanueva, shot dead by a Montreal police officer one year ago this coming Sunday (Hoodstock, by the way, is a combination of the slang term for neighbourhood and, of course, Woodstock). It will allow for a space to discuss the issues that this youth man’s death has raised: poverty, racism, racial profiling by police, gang violence. But it will also be a space of coming together around music and memories. Sunday will see a memorial walk from the site of Hoodstock. The march, scheduled for 5pm Aug. 9th, was called for by Fredy’s family.

All in all it presents itself as a sober, thoughtful and thoroughly necessary event for a neighbourhood, and city, still dealing with the issues that Fredy’s death has raised.

Which made the words used in last week’s Montreal Gazette article all the more frustrating to read:

At first glance it seems a little like the entertainment equivalent of a time bomb.

While the riots that followed Fredy Villanueva’s shooting last year and the fact that emotions could run high this year as well are both valid topics to cover in a piece about this weekend’s events, I find it incredible that a story would be lead off this way. In it’s opening lines it plants the assumption that there is a real threat of violence this weekend, and leaves it to spokespeople for the event to start on the defensive.

The rest of the article gives ample room to event organisers to explain the event, and the question of violence never comes back up. No quotes from residents who fear for their safety, no police saying they will be beefing up security in the area. So where does the introduction come from?

The piece is anonymous, so no way to contact the author to get an explanation. I can only see two possibilities: either a journalist with an agenda, or – maybe more likely given the tone of the rest of the piece – an attempt at a flashy, grabbing opening line.

A journalist with an agenda is arguably the more concerning of the two scenarios. But the second points to a carelessness just as problematic and misleading to readers.

La Presse, on the other hand, has a piece that deals with all the same issues, but manages to eschew the inflammatory first line.

Written by Tim McSorley

August 5, 2009 at 1:46 am

Occupation to stop destruction of Guelph Old Growth Forest

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The damage at the Guelph Old Growth Forest so far. Via

The damage at the Guelph Old Growth Forest so far. Via

Residents of Guelph, ON, have been occupying the proposed site of the Hanlon Creek Busines Park. The site is also home to Guelph’s Old Growth Forest, and endangers local wetlands and the Jefferson Salamander, on Ontario’s official threatened species list.

The occupation began on Monday, July 27th. They were notified that they would be evicted as of July 30th at 4pm, but the time came and went and protestors are still there.

The fight to protect this area isn’t a new one. In 2008, Guelph residents who had been working on this issue already founded LIMITS (Land Is More Important Than Sprawl) to raise awareness and fight the HCBP development.

I also had the chance to be in Guelph a few years ago at the same time as the launch of the Plant an Old Growth Forest initiative, to restore land and grow an new old growth forest on the lands of the Ignatius Jesuit Centre of Guelph. The stereotype of southern Ontario, one I admit I often hold, is that of highways and strip malls. Many of Guelph’s residents, though, have long been an example of that other models can work.

Sunrise grounding circle on the occupied land. Via

Sunrise grounding circle on the occupied land. Via

More information is available about the occupation is available on the HCBP Occupation blog at, or contact them for interviews or more information at +15198206280, +15198206239 or hcbpoccupatio[at]gmail[dot]com.

They are also inviting supporters to the site to lend a hand – a map with directions can be found on their website.

[cross-posted from The Dominion]

Written by Tim McSorley

July 31, 2009 at 4:48 pm


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Brilliant series of spoof motivatonal posters featuring Hunter S. Thompson over at

(via @geoperdis)

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Written by Tim McSorley

July 27, 2009 at 11:53 pm

Thursday/Jeudi: La fin du néandertal

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This Thursday at 8:30pm, Bruno Dubuc will be screening his latest film at Club Social in the Mile End (180 St-Viateur East). Three years in the making, La fin du néandertal is an exploration of Montreal city politics, activism, and the hope for a better city friendly to pedestrians, cyclists and all residents, and devoid of cars: a city that has moved outside of the age of the neanderthals. In particular, it follows both the municipal party Projet Montréal and the Maison Aurore Traffic Committee, a community organisation in the Plateau, as they both set out to change the city in their own way. I had a chance to interview Bruno at the end of June just before the premier screening of the film at Cinéma du Parc. Below you can listen to the unedited director’s cut. I haven’t had a chance to see the film yet, but in a year where we are in line for a heated municipal election – and a possibly strong turn out for Projet Montréal – the film is a must-see, based on the topic alone.

Ce jeudi, Bruno Dubuc présente son nouveau métrage La fin du néandertal au café Club Social dans le Mile End (180 St-Viateur est). Un exploration qui à durée trois année, ce film chronique les changements dans le militantisme urbaine à Montréal depuis 2006. Entre autre, ça suit le développement de deux organismes – le parti municipal Projet Montréal et le comité de circulation de la Maison d’Aurore, une organisme communautaire – qui s’engage à changer comment nous vivons ensemble en ville. J’ai eu la chance de parler avec Bruno en fin juin, juste avant la première de son film à Cinéma du Parc. Vous pouvez écouter ci-bas l’entrevue en entier. J’en ai pas encore eu la chance de visionner le film, mais j’en suis certain que dans cette année qui annonce des élections municipaux chauds cet hiver, c’est une film à voir.

Bruno Dubuc: La fin du néandertal/Le lendemain de la veille/25 juin 2009/19min23sec:

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Written by Tim McSorley

July 27, 2009 at 11:24 pm

Talkin’ and writin’ ’bout 2010: The Dominion and Briarpatch

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2010 promises to be an interesting year in Canada. The Security and Prosperity Partnership makes a return, as does the G8, and, of course, the Vancouver 2010 Olympics.

The questions and criticisms continue about the costs and impacts of this mega-event hitting the west coast. Building on stolen Native land, ‘cleaning up’ the Downtown Eastside, criminalising dissent: while the image painted by the government and sponsors is rosy, the reality is a lot messier.

A lot has been said already, but there’s a lot more to come, thanks to The Dominion and Briarpatch. The Dominion has sent a call for pitches for it’s special issue on the Olympics due out in November (pitches are due soon!) and Briarpatch has sent the call for it’s Resistance 2010 issue, to be published early in 2010.

I’ve posted both below, or read more here and here.

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Written by Tim McSorley

July 26, 2009 at 11:07 pm