Saturday, July 20, 2002

walk against racism

Three of the Jaballah kids -- Usama, Afnan and Ali -- join the overnight vigil at the Metro West Detention Centre.
July 20-26 Walk Against Racism, Repression and War Faces Daily Surveillance, Threats of Arrest, and Acts as A Magnet for some of the Horror Stories of Racism Experienced Daily in Happy Canada.

A Walk Diary of Sorts

 Over 100 people took part in some or all of the 100+ km walk against Racism, Repression and War from Hamilton to Scarborough July 20-26. Walkers ranged in age from three to 84, and included farmers, teachers, caregivers, retirees, artists, students, nurses, musicians, and people from a variety of faith backgrounds, including Muslims, Mennonites, Quakers, United Church, Anglican, Catholics, Agnostics, and at least one confirmed Radical Orthodox Pantheist. Folks from as far away as Windsor, St. Mary's, and Durham joined a regular crew from Hamilton, Burlington, Milton, and Metro Toronto.

Despite facing a surreal combination of the regularized repression which daily meets dissent on the streets, heat exhaustion from four days of 100 degree F temps, severe sunburn and endless smog advisories, many of us felt blessed to take part in a project which reminded us of the Susan Sontag comment that "someone who has enjoyed...a reprieve, however, brief, from the inhibition on love and trust this society enforces is never quite the same again."

Indeed, at a time when the idea of pilgrimage was in the press due to the World Youth Day activities in Toronto, it seemed most appropriate to hit the road at the height of a hot summer to show solidarity with all those targetted by racism, repression and war and, especially, those individuals who have been victimized by the "security certificate" secret trials and their families. For many, it was an emotionally draining introduction to what is often swept under the rug in this land: the daily face of racism. For others, a reminder of the need to redouble our efforts.

Among many demands, the walk tried to place a human face on this repression by calling for the release of Mahmoud Jaballah -- already cleared by a Federal Court of Canada Judge but re-arrested by a vengeful CSIS and in jail since last August 14 (nine of those months in solitary confinement) -- and Muhammad Mahjoub, held in jail since June 2000 on a flimsy guilt-by-association security certificate but not allowed to see the "evidence" against him. It also demanded an end to the extradition proceeding against Abdellah Ouzghar, who was tried, convicted and sentenced in absentia by a French court which knew his Hamilton address but neglected to inform him of the "judicial" proceedings until they were over.

The walk was meant to also state that racism does not take a summer vacation, and so as we went through communities, we reminded folks that we have a responsibility, especially as those who might enjoy the privileges of white skin, to address and end the roots of racism in Canada, which is as Canadian as the Maple Leaf. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2002

Poverty Protest

Activists send warning to city council: take poverty seriously
By KEVIN WERNER, Ancaster News, May 29, 2002

The drums along Main Street contain a warning to Hamilton councillors to assist the city's less fortunate and eliminate the Red Hill Creek Expressway project of face the consequences in 2003.

About 200 people attended a rally outside city hall May 29 to protest the 2002 budget and the cuts they believe threaten the environment, social service programs and residents quality of life. The rally was to coincide with council's ratification of its budget, which contained a 4.6 per cent average residential tax increase. The increase translates into an additional $120 to the property tax bill. Council approved the budget at a special meeting May 23.

And as councillors carried on their business in the council chambers, natives thrummed on their ceremonial drum well into the night, making it difficult for politicians to be heard.

"We can find a way to provide $1.2 million for business people (to purchase a hockey team), said Don McLean, a director of the Friends of Red Hill Valley, which helped organize the rally along with Hamilton Action for Social Change. "But we can't find a way to provide the money to the transit service."

He urged people, a mixed crowd of young and old people, environmentalists and union supporters, to "give a lot of these councillors their walking papers" after the 2003 municipal election.

Peter Archibald, for the Coalition of Social Justice, was more direct in his attack against councillors, who he said was the root cause of Hamilton's problems.

"Throw some of the bastards out of office," he shouted.

The protesters were angry that the $477 million budget contains $7.1 million in business tax cuts, while residents have to pay more in taxes for less services.

Due to area-rating and a phase-in program councillors agreed to last year to counter the effects of amalgamation costs, Flamborough residents will see a 6.9 per cent tax increase, while Ancaster and Glanbrook residents will absorb a 6.1 percent and 6 per cent tax hike.

In addition, the protesters contend councillors, where a majority of them were wearing green buttons, along with their supports in the council gallery last week, that stated "The Expressway, the Right Way" in defiance of calls to eliminate the expressway, are supporting a multi-million projhect rather than using the money to rehabilitate the city's crumbling infrastructure; keep city libraries open; and repair community recreation centres.

"There are more people homeless, more people in need," said Wayne Marston, president of the Hamilton and District Labour Council. "Yet council is committed to paying for the expressway. The mismanagement is disgraceful."

Councillors are following a pro-business agenda and are contributing to the "erosion of democracy," said Ray Cunnington, Hamilton's representative of the Council of Canadians.

"The city of Hamilton has its priorities wrong," he said.

Lynda Lukasik, an east end Hamilton environmentalist and a member of Environment Hamilton, warned the people, some carrying signs that read "Red Hill: A Faster Road to Bankruptcy"; "Put People First"; and "Amalgamation Meant No Tax Hike",that the city's financial situation isn't going to get any better over the next few years.

Robert Rossini, the city's director of budgets and Hamilton mayor Bob Wade have confirmed that residents could be facing nine and 11 per cent tax increases over the next two years if the provincial and federal governments don't assist the city in lifting some of the social service expenses Hamilton has been forced to shoulder. They also confirm that the city isn't providing enough money to keep its aging infrastructure and recreation centers form falling into disrepair.

If councillors continue to follow a business-centred agenda, residents should expect even more cuts to needed environment programs, she said. This year councillors cut money to Action 2020, an environmental policy city councillors are expected to follow, and they rejected a reduced pesticide spraying program.

"We need a people's agenda," said Mrs. Lukasik. "It's time for a change."

 - - -
Drums protest expressway as council passes budget
By DAN NOLAN, Political Affairs Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator

The loud tones of drums and native chants played as a backdrop to city council last night as it met to rubber stamp its $477 million city budget.

The sounds came from in front of City Hall by native protesters who were part of a rally staged to show displeasure at the budget.

Councillors, however, were unfazed by the noise which, at times, made it hard to hear people speaking. No one referred to it and they passed the minutes of their meeting last week in which they approved the budget.

The rally, attended by more than 200 people, was staged by the Hamilton Action for Social Change. While the group's spokesperson, Randy Kay, said members were disturbed by numerous aspects of the budget -- such as their allegation it caters more to business than the average citizen -- the majority of protesters sported stickers proclaiming, "I love the Red Hill."

This referred to council's continued commitment to spend more than $100 million to help build the Red Hill Creek Expressway.

Critics argue it will bankrupt the city and destroy the last remaining greenspace in the city's east end. Some natives are opposed because they claim the valley is full of native burial sites.

Supporters, including the majority of council, say the highway is needed to move traffic and build up new assessment. Ward 12 councillor Murray Ferguson said people are free to demonstrate, but said debate on building the expressway was settled long ago.

About half a dozen people spoke at the rally, including Wayne Marston, president of the Hamilton labour council. He said council was heading down a "dangerous" road with the expressway.
Hundreds Rally to Oppose City Budget

 - - - -

Hamiltonians turned out in large numbers to register opposition to the city's budget last night.
Hamilton Action for Social Change

What would normally be yet another dull council meeting was livened by the 250+ crowd gathered in front of city hall to register their opposition to a budget that abandons justice and sustainability for a pro-business "economic development" model.

As council voted to give more than $1.2 million over five years to owners of a Hamilton hockey franchise --some of the richest men in the community -- the majority of citizens were handed cuts to services and tax increases.

Outside city hall, aboriginal drummers and dancers worked to make the Creator smile, while inside, council rubber stamped an unpopular and destructive budget.

In the new budget, taxes for home-owners will rise by $120, almost half of which will be transferred to the corporate and business community through tax reductions.

Further millions will be spent to destroy the city's largest urban park, the east end's Red Hill Valley, by going ahead with plans to build a $220 million expressway through the valley.

Cuts to HSR bus service, libraries and public health were also approved by council.

Lynda Lukasik, director of Environment Hamilton, warned the crowd that cuts to public transit, public health and environmental programs will only increase in subsequent budgets.

"The majority of council are not listening to us. Now, more than ever, we need a people's agenda."

The white-male dominated council is solidly in support of policies favouring business interests.

Yvonne Maracle, a Mohawk activist who spoke at the rally, suggested that council should instead tend to the dismal state of the torn social fabric and homelessness before handing millions over to the rich.

"Governments have forgotten about the basic element of life: caring about our fellow man," said Maracle. "Instead of looking at the immediate community as a resource, they look on us as a hindrance. To start the healing, Hamilton must invest in the weakest link to make us stronger."

Don McLean of Friends of Red Hill Valley reminded people that grassroots activism has already prevented many of the cuts originally set out in the draft budget. For weeks prior to the rally, activists put up posters and handed out thousands of leaflets to citizens on the streets, urging them to contact their councillors to register their concerns, and to attend the rally.

McLean said the next step is for people to continue to organize in the community, and work to "give councillors their walking papers" in the 2003 municipal elections.

Peter Archibald of Hamilton Coalition for Social Justice said that the budget process has to be "opened up to the community." He also told the crowd to prepare for civil disobedience in the face of an unresponsive council and their destructive policies.

Other speakers included Wayne Marston, President of the Hamilton Labour Council, Ray Cunnington of the Hamilton chapter of Council of Canadians and David Jefferess of Hamilton Action for Social Change, the group who called the rally.

- - - -
[text from the call out]


Community life threatened by city budget cuts
The new City budget imposes major cuts on libraries, social housing, public health, HSR bus service, cemeteries, recycling and a long list of environmental programs. It terminates the Clean Air Hamilton program, reduces park maintenance and slashes the Seniors tax rebate program as part of $26 million in budget cuts. Disabled transit (DARTS) will not receive any new money needed to provide adequate service. At the same time, residential taxes will go up $116 per home, nearly half of is being used to REDUCE business taxes by $7.1 million. The Red Hill expressway remains a council priority, but the budget baldly admits that "insufficient funding is being provided for facility maintenance, rehabilitation and renewal; and capital funding levels are far below infrastructure needs in the area of roads, storm sewers and waste management."

Hamilton City Hall, 6:00 pm
Wednesday, May 29, 2002

Mayor Wade's budget will trash community needs but will still push for building the clearly unaffordable Red Hill Creek Expressway, despite dire staff predictions about falling "further behind in infrastructure maintenance, rehabilitation and replacement" and creating conditions where "new capital projects will become financially prohibitive." City of Hamilton Budget 2002.
"This singular project (Red Hill Expressway) is taking us on the slippery slope toward bankruptcy," Ward 13 Councillor Russ Powers



  • Wayne Marston - President Hamilton & District Labour Council
  • Yvonne Maracle - Aboriginal Activist
  • Don McLean - Friends of Red Hill Valley
  • Lynda Lukasik - Environment Hamilton
  • Peter Archibald - Hamilton Coalition for Social Justice
  • Ray Cunnington - Council of Canadians, Hamilton

Tuesday, February 26, 2002

peace troop

Work For Peace Troop Keeps Military at Bay

About 20 Hamilton activists gathered at Hamilton's Bayfront Park on Tuesday evening to greet an expected 50-60 armed reservists from the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry.
The RHLI, or "the Rileys" failed to attend the festive gathering, perhaps daunted by the joyful nonviolent ambience created by the group as they danced to Raffi's version of "down by the bay."
No soldiers carrying C 7 or C 9 machine guns were seen in the park, unlike previous weeks when the RHLI have invaded Bayfront Park to carry out their military "tactical training."
The activists waited for the reservists at the park entrance with recorded music interspersed with clips of speeches from Martin Luther King Jr, John Dear S.J. and Brian Willson.
The energetic group gladly accepted supportive honks from passing motorists.
A banner invited the reservists and others to "Work For Peace" in the interest of social and global solidarity and equality.
When the combat-ready reservists didn't show, the peaceful troop took their show on the road and headed down on foot to the nearby armoury.
After a brief vigil outside the massive brick armoury the group decided to end their stay with a game of ring-around the rosy, before heading off to celebrate the regained violence-free status of Bayfront Park.
A week prior, two civilians who were at the park to video-tape the military exercise were asked for identification and questioned by a uniformed man who identified himself as a "sergeant of the RHLI" and who then proceeded to suggest that the civilians may pose a threat to the safety of others, and indeed, could very well be terrorists.
Perhaps realizing too late that he had committed a gaffe by speaking directly into the lens of a filming video camera, the sergeant beat a hasty retreat to stand and glare at the civilians (who quickly realized they had pretty damning footage and decided to leave the park to make copies before Sarge got any bright ideas)
While a February 11 RHLI media release noted that they plan on using the park "most Tuesday evenings" until May, the activists are wondering if their high jinks have put an end to the RHLI's plans.
The group who called the protest, Hamilton Action for Social Change (HASC), is looking at keeping a rapidly deployed dance team (RDDT) ready to respond to any future armed invasion of the parks in Hamilton, just in case.
As one person noted "They've got the gun, but we've got the fun."
Contact the HASC RDDT if you notice large groups of armed people creeping through a park in your neighborhood.

Friday, February 22, 2002



Friday, February 22, 2002
The Commanding Officer
Royal Hamilton Light Infantry
John Weir Foote VC Armoury
200 James Street North
L8R 2L1

Dear Commanding officer and reservists with the RHLI B Company,

The recent news that you intend to use a public park to carry out military training has prompted us to write you with our concerns.
While no doubt the perceived advantages of recruitment possibilities lie behind the public display of military training (as evidenced in your media release), we feel that Bayfront Park should remain a violence free, weapons-free area.
Sagging recruitment and an appeal to convenience and cost-effectiveness are not sufficient reasons to support the idea of battle-gear-laden, weapons carrying soldiers running around a public park at night.
Indeed, the recent news that a sergeant from the RHLI asked civilians in the park for identification, then suggested they might be carrying weapons and intimated that they might be terrorists is a sign that the military needs to be reminded that this sort of behaviour is counter to basic rights and norms in a democratic society.
This incident reinforces our concern about the use of public space to train for killing, especially since the RHLI newsletter carries such items as:
"Pte Warren Pyper 'closes with and destroys the enemy' - carrying out the role of the infantry to the letter! Despite the use of blank ammo, the jungle lanes provided a good test of pairs fire and movement for the RHLI.'"
Rather than concentrate on killing the enemy (and we can potentially discuss who becomes an enemy, and why), we instead propose training in the neglected tools of peace-building. How much time do you as soldiers (or we as citizens for that matter) devote to studying conflict transformation, mediation, de-escalation, active nonviolence and dialogue?
How much time is spent on examining the inequity that creates strife in a global village where so-called Developed Nations surfeit on global goodies while the majority of the world's people are dirt poor and die from starvation or preventable diseases or dysentery.
We acknowledge that good intentions motivate many of you to participate in the military, and that many reservists believe in the concept of "peace-keeping."
However, as nonviolent activists, it is our belief that an effective and true peace-keeper must start by rejecting violence, and in particular, must lay down weapons of violence (C7 assault rifles and C9 machine guns in this case.)
In recent years the Canadian military has been thrust into conflicts which have utilized our rich-nation advantages in technology and killing power to cause great devastation and suffering to thousands of innocent civilians in countries like Iraq, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan. These wars have not been good public relations exercises for the peace-keeping myth, yet the myth manages to persist despite our war-making, war-making which includes war-crimes like targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure.
It is instructive to look at the United Nations' chart monitoring numbers of peacekeepers from various countries: ( ) Figures available there indicate that while Bangladesh has 6,024 peacekeepers in the field, Ghana 2,465, Australia 1,548, Argentina 633, Canada has a surprisingly low 305.
A quick calculation indicates that if Canada's military was indeed focused on peacekeeping, then it would be costing Canadians over $36 million for each soldier on a peacekeeping mission!
Yet we have heard a more accurate rendering of the role of Canada's military from one of your generals:
"As much as Canadians would like to ignore the fact, the role of a soldier is to kill as efficiently as possible with the resources available once he is ordered to do so by his government. There are many sidelines to his profession that make us all feel warm and fuzzy...But they are all subordinate to one overriding responsibility and that is to kill on demand."
Major-General Lewis Mackenzie,
quoted in the Globe and Mail May 9, 2000
In fact there are far more Canadian soldiers on combat style missions, at least 750 in Afghanistan at this moment, than there are doing peacekeeping.
Is there another way? There do exist models which we could choose to develop and build upon in our search for peaceful means to achieve peaceful ends: Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), Peace Brigades International (PBI) and others who send unarmed mediators into conflict areas to, as CPT puts it, "get in the way" of the armed actors.
But there are other more pro-active things we can do to stem the tides of violence that result from our reliance upon killing and destruction as a way of dealing with conflict.
A radical restructuring of priorities might lead us to re-examine the expenditure of $11.5 billion a year on preparing for war (the largest use of discretionary funding by the Canadian state), and instead have us use that money for socially useful purposes.
To give an idea of what we are considering, let's look at homelessness in Canada: declared a national disaster in 1998 by the mayors of Canada's ten largest cities, next to nothing has been done to create new affordable housing since then. It is estimated that $2 billion a year would solve this problem. In a new world, former reservists from the Rileys would spend their time contributing their skills and energy to build affordable housing in Hamilton.
Environmental clean-up could easily use the entire budget and then some, but some of those billions could be put toward cleaning up our surroundings and doing trail maintenance, lending time to environmental projects planting native species, tree planting, constructing bicycle trails, supporting renewable energy projects, growing organic food, reconstructing bicycles with Recycle Cycles, picking up litter, to name a few possibilities.
Meanwhile, we would be in a position to address Canada's long neglected commitment to the rest of the world. Senator Douglas Roche has pointed out that Canada's stated commitment of spending 0.7% of our GNP on projects in developing nations has not been honoured. It sits at around 0.24%, while 80 percent of the global population is forced to get by with less than 20 percent of the global income.
If Canada joined with other nations, we could contribute some of our billions currently spent on the military toward the $60 billion required to supply adequate water and sanitation to the 2 billion people who have neither. As Senator Roche points out, $60 billion is what we are willing to spend on an "needless and unworkable" missile defence system!
Perhaps you have heard of the United Nations (whose charter we broke when we went with NATO to bomb Yugoslavia and Kosovo in 1999) MANIFESTO 2000: this document gives us hope for a better world, and we encourage you to join us in efforts to live up to its challenging call.
The principles of MANIFESTO 2000 are the following:
  1. Respect all life: Respect the life and dignity of each human being without discrimination or prejudice
  2. Reject violence: Practise active non-violence, rejecting violence in all its forms: physical, sexual, psychological, economical and social, in particular towards the most deprived and vulnerable such as children and adolescents
  3. Share with others: Share my time and material resources in a spirit of generosity to put an end to exclusion, injustice and political and economic oppression
  4. Listen to understand: Defend freedom of expression and cultural diversity, giving preference always to dialogue and listening without engaging in fanaticism, defamation and the rejection of others
  5. Preserve the planet: Promote consumer behaviour that is responsible and development practices that respect all forms of life and preserve the balance of nature on the planet
  6. Rediscover solidarity: Contribute to the development of my community, with the full participation of women and respect for democratic principles, in order to create together new forms of solidarity
Not a bad framework to begin, and one that could create the conditions for equality and peace among the people of the world.
We intend to take you up on your offer to "meet with the soldiers in between periods of training" not as "enemies" but as sisters and brothers seeking a world where human security is paramount.
We too, hope to be at Bayfront Park to play our nonviolent games; as the park was intended to be used for family and community fun, not for war training, we hope you will join us in a game of hide and seek or red light/green light.
We ask that you share this letter with the rest of the Rileys as a way of beginning a much-needed dialogue.


Homes Not Bombs - Hamilton

- - -

The initial news story inviting people to watch the RHLI train:

Soldiers training at Bayfront Park

The Hamilton Spectator, Tuesday, February 12, 2002 If you spot 60 armed soldiers in dark green uniforms marching down to Bayfront Park tonight, have no fears.
The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry's B Company is conducting training exercises at the park on Tuesdays from 7:30 to 10 p.m. until May, although they're not using ammunition or flares.
The reservists are preparing for a weekend-long combat readiness evaluation at CFB Meaford, which will test their combat skills.
The training started last week with reconnaissance. Captain Tim Fletcher, public relations officer, said soldiers studied the park's terrain to get a sense of what would be possible as they practise movement drills, learning how to move around while protecting themselves from enemy fire.
"It'll look like people running around getting orders," Fletcher said.
"They won't be firing anything."
They'll be carrying C7 rifles and C9 light machine-guns.
Bayfront Park was chosen because it is within walking distance of the armoury on James Street North, and is big enough for drills with up to 60 people at a time.
The Rileys also do training on military bases every month or so, but that requires bus transportation and several hours of travelling time.
The park will remain open to the public during the training sessions

Tuesday, February 12, 2002

Close Encounters in Bayfront Park

VIEW Magazine, February 21 - 27, 2002

Despite assurances from the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry that their Tuesday evening war-training incursions into Bayfront Park are open to the public, spectators can expect to be questioned by military commanders, and accused of suspected terrorist activity.

Fully armed soldiers marching double time through a residential street in Hamilton and then creeping through the darkness of Bayfront Park is strange enough.

But the following conversation, transcribed from videotape, reveals the state of military Macarthyism in Canada, post September 11.

As two VIEW magazine reporters stood in the public park video-taping the event on Tuesday (February 19), they were approached by a military commander.

RHLI Sergeant: "G'Day sir. Do you have any identification?"

Reporter 1: "Who are you?"

RHLI: "Sergeant of the 'RHLI.'"

R1: "Sorry?"

RHLI: "Is there any reason why you're taking photographs?"

R1: "It's a public park"

RHLI: "Is there a reason why you're taking photographs?"

R1: "Is there a law against taking pictures? We were invited down [through an RHLI media release] to the public is invited to come down and see the display, so we're here with a video camera."

RHLI: "Is that what you're doing sir?

R1:"Yes [pause as he stares at us], yes, sorry, I'm filming, I don't want to turn it off --"

RHLI: "What are you filming for?"

R1: "Because there are soldiers in the park, at night, which is rather interesting. I don't have to explain this to you, but I will because you're asking and I've nothing to hide, so --

RHLI: "We've got nothing to hide either, sir."

R1: "Right, so we're just filming...

RHLI: "Just wondering what you're doing, that's all."

R1: "We're filming soldiers..."

RHLI: "We wouldn't want you to have anything on you that you shouldn't have--

R1: "Like what?..."

RHLI: "...endangering the life of people."

R1: "Like a gun you mean? Like a weapon? Like a C9 or a C7? I don't think so."

RHLI: "No?"

R1: "I have a video camera."

RHLI: "No? I'm just wondering with all this terrorism going on, I just wanted to make sure that I--"

R1: "That I'm not a terrorist?!"

RHLI: "That, ah..."

R2: "Are you suggesting that we're terrorists?"

RHLI: "No, I'm just asking to make sure that there's not something you are carrying that would endanger other lives."

R1: "Are you trying you want to search us, or..."

R2: "There are a number of men here with..."
RHLI: "They're training..."

R2: "...weapons, those weapons endanger lives."

R1: "And it is Bayfront Park."

R2: "and I'm holding an umbrella."

RHLI "Just wonderin', just wonderin."

R1: "So you were just making sure..."

RHLI [Turning to leave]:That's fine, thank you..."
R1: "...wondering if we're terrorists at all. OK, thanks for checking, I feel much safer now."

Wednesday, January 9, 2002

Dandelion Leaf

"Benjamin climbed over the wall, into a meadow....It was getting late in the afternoon. Other rabbits were coming out to enjoy the evening air. One of them in a blue coat by himself, was busily hunting for dandelions.--'Cousin Peter! Peter Rabbit, Peter Rabbit!' shouted Benjamin Bunny." (from The Tale of Mr. Tod, by Beatrix Potter, 1912, pub. Frederick Warne)

(HASC presented Hamilton Council with a 900 signature petition and prepared a leaflet - text below -  to support a ban on chemical pesticides - by showing solidarity with the much maligned Dandelion!)


Dandy CanLit quote:

"Few of our colonists are acquainted with the many uses to which this neglected but most valuable plant may be applied. The time will come when this hardy weed, with its golden flowers and curious seed vessels, which form a constant plaything to the little children rolling about and luxuriating among the grass in the month of May, will be transplanted into our gardens, and tended with due care." Susanna Moodie, Roughing it in the bush (1852)

RECIPE: Susanna Moodie's Home-Made Dandelion Root Coffee

"I carefully washed the roots quite clean, without depriving them of the fine brown skin which covers them; and which contains the aromatic flavour. I cut my roots into small pieces, the size of a kidney bean, and roasted them on an iron baking-pan in the stove-oven, until they were brown and crisp as coffee. I then ground and transferred a small cupful of the powder to the coffee-pot, pouring upon it scalding water, and boiling it for a few minutes briskly over the fire. The result was beyond my expectations."(Roughing it in the bush, p. 354)

Dandelion NUTRITION:

Dandelion greens are more nutritious than spinach. The dandelion leaf is rich in many minerals and vitamins. It is best to harvest the greens in spring and early summer before the plant flowers. Whether cooked raw in salads, dandelion greens are bitter (that is the medical part) and taste best prepared with other greens and complimentary ingredients. To ensure the integrity of the nutrition in the Dandelion greens, they should not be ripped or cut until they are to be eaten.

RECIPE: Dandelion Greens (a tasty side dish for fish)

2 bunches dandelion greens

2 tbsp olive oil

1 cup onion, finely chopped

2 tsp chopped garlic

salt and freshly ground pepper

t tbsp balsamic vinegar

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil on high heat. Trim stems from greens and discard. Add leaves to pot. Boil until tender. Drain and rinse with cold water. Heat oil on medium heat. Add onion and saute until softened. Add garlic and cook another minute. Add greens and saute until heated through. Stir in vinegar and season well with salt and pepper.


The Dandelion plant may be used for various medicinal purposes. The leaves are a very powerful diuretic and unlike pharmaceuticals will not rob the body of potassium. The diuretic properties of the dandelion leaf help with the treatment of high blood pressure by reducing the volume of excess fluids. Herbalists endorse dandelion root as one of the most effective detoxifying herbs. The medicinal properties of the root works primarily on the liver and gallbladder to remove wastes and toxins. The root has helped to clear up many eczema like skin problems. The leaf and root may be used to prevent gallstones and may even help to dissolve already formed gallstones. The white milky sap from the stem has been used to treat warts if applied several times daily. It is best to harvest dandelion roots in the fall, before the frost.

RECIPE: Cleansing Tea

2 tsp (10ml) fresh, washed dandelion root gathered in fall and finely chopped

2 tsp (10ml) of nettle leaf (fresh or dried) finely chopped or ground

1/2 tsp (2ml) each of oat straw, fennel seed and corn silk

1 litre boiling water

Pour boiling water over the herbs. Steep in a pot for 20 minutes. Strain the herbs and drink one or two cups as needed.

RECIPE: Dandelion WINE

Make this wine in April and enjoy it for the winter holidays

2 litres of Dandelion flowers

11/2 kilos sugar

4 oranges

4 1/2 litres water

yeast and nutrient (consult wine making store)

Pick the dandelion flowers in sunshine or at mid day so the heads are open. Make the wine immediately after picking the flowers. Measure yellow heads and discard as much green as possible. Boil water. Pour the boiling water over the flowers, steep for two days, no longer. Boil the mixture for 10 minutes with the orange peel (no white pith) and strain through muslin onto sugar stirring to dissolve it. When cool add they yeast nutrient, fruit juice and yeast. Put into fermentation jar and fit air-lock. Siphon off into clean bottles when the wine has cleared.

Warning! Pesticides pose a threat to the health of children.

"The cumulative effects of being exposed to many different pesticides over a lifetime represent an unqualified and unacceptable risk to all Canadian children."

May 25, 2000, Ontario College of Family Physicians and CELA "The Children's Health Project"

"At least 20 epidemiology studies in the peer-reviewed literature document a relationship between exposure to pesticides and increased risk of cancer in children. Children are generally more susceptible to the toxic effects of these chemicals than adults, and current animal tests and regulations do not protect children.

(NRC 1993a, WHO 1986)

dandelion lovers unite against pesticides!

Help Hamilton Council preserve the integrity of the earth by urging them to support a phase-out of the cosmetic use of pesticides; help right the wrongs the Chemical companies have foisted upon their favourite villain: our much beloved and much maligned composite plant of the Asteraceae family, the dandelion.

Dandelion lovers of the world unite!
HAMILTON CITY HALL Lobby, 2nd floor outside council chambers, 12:30 pm, Wednesday, January 9, 2002.
The Ghost of CanLit giant Susanna Moodie (Roughing it in the Bush) will be pouring out warm beverages made from Dandelions prior to hearings on Hamilton's pesticide by-law.
Moodie is offended that the Dandelion, so central to the immigrant experience in Canada, has suffered the indignity of being sprayed with poisonous chemicals and treated as a bad weed.
"Few of our colonists are acquainted with the many uses to which this neglected but most valuable plant may be applied," explains Moodie.

Portrait of Susannie Moodie
During the fall of '35 (that's 1835) Moodie began to discover the many uses of this "neglected but most valuable plant."
  • The leaves used in salads are "quite equal to endive."
  • The leaves when boiled can be used as a substitute for cabbage.
  • The tops can be boiled and the liquor added to hops, fermented and made into beer "equal to the table-beer used at home."
  • Coffee made from the dandelion root "proved excellent-- far superior to the common coffee we procured at the stores."
An excellent source of vitamin A, young leaves can be eaten raw or boiled for 5-10 minutes. Among many other culinary uses, the flowers can be dipped in batter and fried.

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Pesticide use put to public
Many support recommendation for city to reduce chemical use.


Special to The Hamilton Spectator


Sheila Brown gambles with her health every time she steps into her back yard.

The Waterdown resident suffers from an environmental illness that her doctor believes is aggravated by chemical sprays used to beautify lawns. Her symptoms, which have worsened since new neighbours began using pesticides, include light-headedness, weak limbs and recurring colds.

"I have to be careful in my own back yard again," Brown told a city council subcommittee yesterday.

She was one of more than 30 speakers who came to City Hall to share their views at a special hearing on pesticide use.

Like many of the others, she applauded a staff recommendation for a continued reduction in the city's use of chemical sprays, but urged council to take the initiative a step further. In order to eliminate the health risks associated with pesticide exposure, Brown said, the city must also restrict the use of chemical sprays used by private landowners.

"We live in a chemical soup" that puts people at unnecessary risk for health problems, she said.

Pesticides, which include chemical herbicides, insecticides, and weed killers, have been linked to numerous health and environmental problems.

Yet some speakers expressed doubt about the health hazards.

University of Guelph toxicologist Len Ritter argued that studies linking pesticide use to certain illnesses, such as cancer, are inconclusive.

Still, Ritter cautioned that because doubt exists, pesticides should always be treated as "potentially dangerous chemicals."

A Supreme Court of Canada ruling last June upheld a bylaw passed by Hudson, Que., prohibiting the use of lawn sprays, and other municipalities have since enacted similar bylaws. So far, Hamilton city council has elected to wait for recommendations from the medical officer of health.

Although yesterday's hearing dealt with nonagricultural pesticide use, farming representatives like Larry Freeman expressed concern about the implications of a possible future ban on pesticides.

Freeman called prohibiting pesticides "impractical and unenforceable."

"It could severely restrict a farmer's ability to keep pests out of their crops," he said.

Council's committee of the whole will review the city's plan to reduce pesticide use sometime this spring.


[caption] Dressed for the part, Evelyna Kay, 6, helped her mom, Beatrice Ekwa-Ekoko, offer dandelion tea during yesterday's public hearing at Hamilton City Hall on the city's plan to reduce pesticide use. Barry Gray, The Hamilton Spectator.