Anna Kuelken was not even born when I left Fort Assiniboine in the early 1980’s to pursue a life that didn’t include farming. I wasn’t particularly well-suited to it, though for the first 18 yeas of my life, I knew little else.
Anna was raised on a family farm in that same tiny community a few hundred kilometres NW of Edmonton. Her experience may not have differed much from my own; things don’t change quickly in a community of 150 hardy souls more than 200 miles from the nearest city, in this case Edmonton.
Her father Peter and I were of a similar generation. Although a few years older than me, we grew up attending the same small school, and knowing most of the same people. To give a sense of size, there were 19 in my high school graduation class, the 2nd largest in history. Our people farmed for the most part, and almost all had other jobs off the farm to support their habit. Today the notion of the “family farm” is challenged more than ever in its history.
While the family farm I was raised on has been gone from the family for 3 decades, Anna is still very attached to land she grew up on. She recently submitted this short film she produced about her father’s relationship with the land. It examines the changing dynamic and circumstance of the family farm; at times seeming very much like the now almost 40 years removed from my own day to day experience, and yet, not that different. Farmers still work off the farm to support their habit, just like my dad did in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. It remains a solitary and noble lifestyle for those who have survived.
I hope you enjoy this glimpse into the relationship between a farmer and the land they farm.
Anna’s father Peter Kuelken provides some background:
…This farm and I became acquainted in 1958. I was 2 years old and was the child of immigrant parents who loved us as dearly as they did the country they had come to. It was at a very young age that I was taught about the power of the land. I learned from my parents the importance of the respect for the air the water the soil and the life that flourished there. In my later years returning to the farm was because of the love that had been in my life from my family and community.
My return was because of the sense of security of this life that was imbedded in my soul as a child. The miracle of life that emerged constantly around us and the curiosity it created was something that my wife and I wanted our children to embrace and have in their lives. We also followed the path of the conventional agriculture but returned to a holistic model that is sustainable. We now use technology and the tools that it provides to be better stewards of this land. I am so proud now that my children carry this flag of stewardship in its truest sense. They now have become like our indigenous people in the understanding of the importance of this land which sustains us. The circle of life continues…”
by Peter Kuelken
151st Cowichan Exhibition includes new category: best home-grown pot
VICTORIA — One of Canada’s oldest fall fairs is putting a new twist on its annual showcase of local livestock, produce and fruit by adding a new category for best home-grown marijuana.
The Cowichan Exhibition in Duncan, B.C., which dates back to 1868, has created a best cannabis category to embrace legalization and celebrate local pot growers, said exhibition vice-president Bud James.
The fair starts Friday and the cannabis entries will be on display in the main hall at the Cowichan Exhibition Grounds along with the region’s top vegetables, fruits and baked goods. First prize is $5, second is $3 and third place gets a ribbon.
“We just decided this year, because it’s an agricultural product, and it’s been grown in the valley for years, and now that it’s finally legally grown, we would allow people to win a ribbon for the best,” said James.
He said fair officials believe the Cowichan cannabis category is the first of its kind in Canada.
An official at the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions, a non-profit organization representing rural and urban fairs, said she had not heard of any other cannabis judging contests prior to the Cowichan Exhibition, but couldn’t confirm it was the first.
A fall fair in Grand Forks, B.C., is also judging local cannabis, but the event starts Saturday, one day after Cowichan’s fair. Those who enter the competition in Grand Forks can compete for best indoor- and outdoor-grown cannabis.
James said fair organizers contacted the local council and RCMP prior to adding the cannabis category. The mayor and council did not oppose the contest and the RCMP referred organizers to B.C.’s Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch, the agency monitoring retail sales of non-medical cannabis, he said.
Organizers decided to go ahead with the event after its plans were not rejected, James said.
“Our interpretation of the rules are you can’t make it attractive to people under 19 years and we are not making it attractive,” he said.
James said the cannabis entries will be placed in a glass display case and the individual entries will be sealed in clear zip lock plastic bags.
“It’s being judged to the same standard of judging garden and field produce,” he said. “It’s done by uniformity. You want all three buds to be the same size, same shape, same colour. It’s also the dryness, texture and smell. It’s exactly the same way you would judge apples or carrots or hay bales. It’s all done the same way.”
James said the contest doesn’t involve sampling the product.
Bree Tweet, the manager of a medical cannabis dispensary in nearby Ladysmith, will judge the marijuana entries, said James.
The exhibition received 18 cannabis entries and James said the contest created a buzz at the fair.
“The enthusiasm of the entrants, the people bringing their entry forms, they are so enthusiastic it’s unbelievable,” he said. “They are so thrilled that it’s happening, that we’re doing it because they’ve been waiting for years for legalization and now, they finally got it and now they have a chance to show what they can do.”
James, who has entered his prized Dahlia flowers at past fairs, said the addition of the cannabis category has exceeded expectations with the 18 entries.
Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press
China uses arbitrary detentions as ‘tool’ to achieve ‘political goals’: Trudeau
OTTAWA — China uses arbitrary detentions as a tool to achieve its international and domestic political goals, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday.
He called that a pressure tactic that is worrying not only to Canada, but to its western allies.
Trudeau offered that assessment during a meeting with the editorial board of the Toronto Star, where he was asked to respond to the latest upbraiding of Canada by the spokesman for China’s foreign ministry.
Asked earlier about Trudeau’s appointment of business consultant Dominic Barton as Canada’s new ambassador to China, spokesman Geng Shuang said Canada needs to reflect on its “mistakes” and immediately release Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested on a U.S. extradition request.
“We look forward to his positive efforts to help bring China-Canada relations onto the right track,” Geng said in translated remarks posted on his ministry’s website.
“Lately China-Canada relations have encountered serious difficulties. The responsibility lies completely with the Canadian side, and Canada knows the root cause clearly. We urge the Canadian side to reflect upon its wrongdoing, take China’s solemn position and concerns seriously, immediately release Ms. Meng Wanzhou and ensure her safe return to China.”
China has imprisoned two Canadian men, ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor, on suspicion of spying in what is widely viewed as retaliation for Meng’s arrest.
“Using arbitrary detention as a tool to achieve political goals, international or domestic, is something that is of concern not just to Canada but to all our allies, who have been highlighting that this is not acceptable behaviour in the international community because they are all worried about China engaging in the same kinds of pressure tactics with them,” Trudeau said at the end of a meeting with Toronto Star journalists, which was livestreamed.
Trudeau said he doesn’t want to escalate tensions with China, and noted Beijing gave speedy approval to Canada’s request to appoint Barton as its ambassador.
Trudeau and his cabinet ministers have routinely branded Kovrig’s and Spavor’s incarcerations as arbitrary, and have marshalled broad international support from several dozen countries, including the United States. That coalition-building has angered China, which has banned imports of Canadian canola and blocked other agricultural products.
Trudeau said Canada has no choice but to engage economically with China because it is the world’s second-largest economy but has to be “clear-eyed” about that.
“China plays by a very different set of rules and principles than we do in the West. And making sure that we are able to make those points clearly and forcefully and as much as possible constructively is going to be really important,” the prime minister said.
“We are engaged very strongly in the issue of Canadians, in the issue of the canola and the beef and pork issues, but we are engaged in a substantive way that highlights to the Chinese government that we are concerned about their behaviour,” he added.
“We’re very concerned about the 300,000 Canadians in Hong Kong right now, but we are going to attempt to be constructive in ways that end up being good for Canadians and ultimately, hopefully, good for the Chinese people.”
Daniel Schow, a spokesman for Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, reiterated his party’s view that Trudeau has been “bullied and pushed around by Beijing.”
“There’s a difference between not escalating tensions and doing nothing to stand up for Canada. Trudeau’s weakness and dithering on Canada’s relationship with China is costing Canadians.”
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said she and Barton met Wednesday and the plight of Kovrig and Spavor was the first thing they discussed. She said that in the regular consular visits that Canadian diplomats have with the two men, they are told, among other things, of the government’s efforts to secure their release. She said that is a “source of solace” for the two.
Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press
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