Thursday October 12, 2017

October 11, 2017 episode transcript

Note: Transcripts may contain errors. If you wish to re-use all, or part of, a transcript, please contact CBC for permission. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print. Copyright © CBC 2017

The AIH Transcript for October 11, 2017

Hosts: Carol Off and Jeff Douglas



CAROL OFF: Hello, I'm Carol off.

JEFF DOUGLAS: Good evening, I'm Jeff Douglas. This is As It Happens.

[Music: Theme]

JD: Tonight.

CO: What's found amid what's lost. A northern California family returns home to find their house a neighbourhood destroyed by the wildfires. But as Brad Sherwood tells us tonight, there is a glimmer of hope amid the destruction.

JD: No sense of closure. Sears Canada announces it will shut down its remaining stores and for those who operate independently owned Sears outlets that means an uncertain future.

CO: A charged conversation, an uncharged man. New York police had a damning recording of Harvey Weinstein admitting he'd groped a woman but no charges were laid. And a former Manhattan prosecutor says that was the wrong call.

JD: Recipe for disaster. Thousands of people have signed a petition demanding a Toronto restaurant take seal meat off its menu. Tonight the Indigenous chef who put it there responds.

CO: Head restart. That's head as in Boss, leader or director, but not as in chief, which Toronto's public school board says it's removing from all job titles out of respect for Canada's Indigenous people.

JD: And…not getting the general idea. Texas officials changed the name of a school named for Confederate General Robert E. Lee to Legacy of Educational Excellence High School — or L-E-E High. And the acronym gets an acrimonious reaction. As It Happens the Wednesday edition. Radio that thinks they gave themselves too much “Lee-way”.

[Music: Theme]

Back To Top »

Part 1: California fires follow-up, Toronto District School Board: no chiefs, Weinstein: former DA prosecutor

California fires follow-up

Guest: Brad Sherwood

JD: 21 people have already died, more than 500 people are currently unaccounted for, and as the winds get stronger the fires in California are expected to get worse. Thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes — Brad Sherwood and his family, among them. Their home in Santa Rosa was in the path of the wildfires that have been raging across northern California since Sunday. And when we spoke to Mr. Sherwood on last night's program he was still on the road and didn't know what he would find when he pulled into his driveway. He had one wish — that if everything else was gone he hoped the walnut tree in their front yard would still be standing. So we thought we would call Mr. Sherwood back to tell us what he found. We reached him again on the road to Santa Rosa.

CO: Brad when we left you yesterday you were just about to see what was left of your home. What did you find?

BS: I did not find my home, nor did I find my neighbourhood. It was just a blank slate of ash and debris. There was no evidence that our neighbourhood even existed except for the stone and bricks of the fireplaces. When we hiked into our neighbourhood we couldn't help but run to our lot. We ran up to our driveway and saw the sheer devastation that was caused by the fire.

CO: How did the kids and your wife respond when they saw that?

BS: Well, we did not take the kids. The kids stayed in Sacramento with the grandmas and were being spoiled with toys and love as they should be. We went to the house with my wife and I, and my dad, her dad, and we all were in sheer devastation. And when we returned back to Sacramento the kids were already in bed asleep. But this morning when they woke up my 5-year-old daughter came up to me and said, “Daddy when we go back back home. I want to get some of my toys. Did you get some of my toys?” And we were able to get a few fragments of her porcelain dolls, and we were able to locate some rocks, my son loves the rocks and gems and minerals, so we had a whole collection in his bedroom, and luckily we found a few fragments of some of those rocks amongst the debris in his bedroom.

CO: And how did the kids respond when they learned and saw that?

BS: They were very excited, very excited to have those small items. They still don't understand the house is gone, and we have not shown them pictures and we haven't really we haven't really communicated to them that the house is completely gone. All that we've said is, “we're going to be building a new house,” and it's going to be better, and it will be a new house where they will they will grow up and make more fun memories.

CO: One thing you mentioned to us last night as you were heading to the house. One thing you were hoping — you didn't think your house, well you were you pretty sure your house was gone — but you were hoping that the walnut tree in your front yard had survived.

BS: Yeah, as we drove up a distance away from the neighbourhood I was trying to make out the shape of the walnut tree from a distance, and I thought I saw the shape of the tree, because the tree it's just so it's so unique in the curvature of it’s limbs. And my wife and I are like, “gosh you know, I think that's the walnut tree, I think the tree is still standing.” And as we ran towards the house, sure enough, the walnut tree is still standing and the limbs are all intact. As a matter of fact, there’s are still some leaves on the upper-left-hand portion of the tree, and I'm really hoping that we can do everything we can to revive that tree. I can't imagine that — it's an old tree and I'm sure been through a lot. I don't know if it’s ever been through a wildfire like this, but we're going to call an arborist as soon as we can get an arborist in there to evaluate the tree and see what we can do. Another beautiful thing that's happened over the last 24 hours since we've spoken is, I've been in contact with many of my neighbours, many people that I did know whether or not they had escaped. And it is just so heartwarming to know and to hear their voices, and we've all decided that we're all going to get back together and be Sonoma County strong.

CO: You know, the thing that's so striking about this conversation and the one we had last night is your optimism. I mean, last night when you spoke you knew your house was gone, but you were hoping for the walnut tree. You sent this photo today of your mailbox that's still there and you and you're standing there beaming that you’ve got the mailbox. You bring some fragments of toys and the kids are excited to see them. I mean, that's real spirit.

BS: That's all we've got. That's all we've got is spirit, and that's what life's all about. We've got to move forward. And we're not going to let this fire devastate us. We may have lost everything but it's not going to stop us. And I'm also very happy to report that while we were at the house an injured cat all-of-a-sudden appeared out of nowhere and it's a neighbourhood cat. I've seen the cat, I know the cat. And so my dad and I immediately went over to the cat picked him up gave him some water. He was clearly burnt and bleeding and we took him to the local Sonoma Humane Society where they are treating injured animals for free. And I just received word today, this morning, actually about 10 minutes ago before you called, that the cat is responding well to medication, they’re pretty sure the cat's going to survive. And the best part is thanks to social media and Facebook, we've plastered social media with a picture of this cat to try to find the owners. And the owners saw the post, they’re evacuated way out in Lake County and they're coming to get the cat and then be reunited with the cat later today. You know, it's just a glimpse of hope in this tragedy that we're experiencing. It's amazing, it’s awesome.

CO: Brad it's really great to speak with you and I I'm so glad that you have the spirit and that you are safe, and thank you so much for speaking with us.

BS: Thank you. I appreciate it.

JD: We reached Brad Sherwood earlier today on his way to Santa Rosa, California. And if you'd like see photographs of that walnut tree and the cat that Mr. Sherwood found go to our website:

[Music: Ambient Piano & Bass]

Toronto District School Board: no chiefs

Guest: Ryan Bird

JD: Toronto's public school board is getting rid of the word chief. The board says that as part of its work in Indigenous education, truth and reconciliation, it is stripping the term from the titles of a whole list of jobs. At one school the word is even been blacked out on the sign that once marked the chief caretaker's office door. Ryan Bird is the Toronto District School Board's Manager of Corporate and Social Media Relations. We reached him in Toronto.

CO: Mr. Bird, what's wrong with the word chief?

RYAN BIRD: I think the administration here the TDSB made the proactive decision to change it just given the fact that it has been used as a negative word, a slur, a pejorative to people in the Aboriginal community over the years, so they made the proactive decision to eliminate it from the, about roughly, twenty or so people who had that in their title here at the TDSB and that's out of the obviously close to 40,000 staff we have here.

CO: Give us some examples of the titles that have been changed?

RB: So, for example, we had twelve chiefs within our professional support services department. So, for example, the chief of social work, we had a number of those, those are now managers of social work. So that's one of the decisions. This is something that we started a few years ago actually, and in that case we had a job position like Chief Financial Officer and that was slowly changed. Chief Communications Officer was changed to executive officer in charge of communications, so this has been under way for a few years now and it was just recently that the decision was made to complete the phase out to the remaining titles of the board.

CO: Did you get complaints?

RB: I don't think there was any direct complaints about this specific word, I think it's part of the larger discussion that we had after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report and the discussions we've been having since then, as far as looking for ways that we can improve what may not on the outside seem like an issue. For example, in the Truth and Reconciliation report I believe it talks about improvement to education language and that kind of thing, and I think that's kind of one of the jumping off points that staff have used in this case.

CO: But nobody — there was no complaints, no one came forward and said in the Spirit of Truth and Reconciliation process it would be good if you would get rid of the word chief?

RB: Not to my knowledge, I think it's more about being not waiting for a complaint to come in, but being proactive from the get go and trying to phase this out. It's one of a number of things that TDSB has done over the years as far as Aboriginal education if you will, but following the Truth and Reconciliation report we've had lots of discussions on this and this was a proactive measure that staff decided to take.

CO: Do you know the origins of the word chief?

RB: My understanding is it's Middle English. It's not an Aboriginal word at all, in fact. I think the issue for us though has been that it has become a slur in some cases use towards those in the Aboriginal community. So, I think we're trying to do this out of respect for the Aboriginal community on a proactive basis.

CO: I guess it’s originally a Roman word, or it comes from the Roman and Old French, and it means chief, it means leader.

RB: Absolutely, and I think and when we do recognize that. Again, I think it comes down to more what it has become and how it has been used obviously more recently than Roman times. You know, I was speaking to one of our elders here at the TDSB who said he thought that many Aboriginal people in their lives has had Chief used as a slur towards them. And I think that's why staff here made the proactive decision to kind of eliminate that, and better describe the exact job they're doing. For example, chief of social work, now manager of social work, they do manage a team of people so they felt that between the two it was a better title change.

CO: What about the word chef because that's the French word for chief.

RB: At this point no, that's not something that we're considering changing. I don't think we have a lot of necessarily chefs on staff, there may be people within our nutrition services, but I just don't have the numbers on that.

CO: So you're not considering removing the word chef from anything?

RB: Not at this time, no.

CO: What about language taught in school? The chief consideration here, chief among the reasons… What about that?

RB: Yeah, and I think there's no formal way that we describe that, so no that that's not being considered, at this point it is only the titles of the roughly twenty or so staff that have this title remaining.

CO: You're not banishing the word chief from other things?

RB: No, we're looking at it in title only at this point in time, I don't think anyone's envisioning going beyond that. I just think it was more again, as a proactive measure — not waiting for a complaint to come in — but trying to do it on a proactive basis.

CO: The Indigenous author and activist Robert Jago tweeted today that this is, he calls this an example of Indigenous people being used as an excuse for stupidity. What would you say to him?

RB: Well, I wouldn't agree. I do think there are a wide variety of views on this. I think that is an entirely valid point of view, but there are other valid points of view, and that's why we tried to make this proactive decision. But you know, I think everyone is entitled to their opinion and I respect that. But we don't agree, we think it was a proactive measure that we wanted to take, to bring our titles more in line with the actual jobs themselves, while at the same time respecting the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation.

CO: But is it — you’ve got this sort of turned upside down. Because I mean, this is a word that is, as you point out, it's not an Indigenous word, this is not appropriation of a word. This is a term, chief is a term that was imposed on Indigenous people as part of the much maligned Indian Act. This is something they imposed on their culture that didn't exist there before. So isn't that something that they perhaps would be looking at rather than trying to eliminate an English word from the vocabulary of your executive.

RB: No, and I don't necessarily disagree. I think it comes down to what that word has become and what it is has been used for. So, I don't disagree or not acknowledge that you're right. It was imposed at that time it was based on that Roman origins, if you will. But I think it is what it’s become and what it has used for before. And when it's being used, in some cases has a negative, a pejorative, then that's why we took this step to eliminate the title for the twenty or so staff members.

CO: But you've had no complaints, no one asked you to do this, doesn't come from anywhere in the Indigenous community. This is just something that you took the initiative of as a proactive gesture again?

RB: Yes, that is true. We were not going to wait for a complaint to come in. That was why we did it proactively to change this.

CO: And you've already seen some of the criticism including columnist Christie Blatchford, who says that the board has declared war on good sense in its effort to be culturally sensitive. What kind of reaction do you expect to be getting to your decision?

RB: Quite frankly, I think we're already seeing mixed reaction and I think we'll continue to see some mixed reaction. We realize that it may not be important to some. In fact, we didn't think it was a major decision in ourselves. We thought we would just let the staff know directly, inform them and move on. But it obviously has become more well-known and people are voicing their opinions on that. So we're OK if some people don't necessarily agree with it. But you know it's part of an ongoing discussion that we've had here over recent years on titles, so that's why we changed it.

CO: All right we'll leave it there. Mr. Bird, thank you.

RB: Carol, thanks so much.

JD: Ryan Bird is the Toronto District School Board's Manager of Corporate and Social Media Relations. We reached him in Toronto and we would like to hear from you on this one. Our TALKBACK number is: (416) 205- 5687 or you can e-mail us:

[Music: Piano Ballad]

Weinstein: former DA prosecutor

Guest: Ansley Barnard

JD: Among the very disturbing allegations and evidence against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. There is a tape, you've likely heard by now. It is a recording of a conversation between Mr. Weinstein and a model by the name of Ambra Gutierrez. The recording was made at a hotel in New York in 2015. It was made with the help of the New York Police Department. And in it Mr. Weinstein tries to persuade Ms. Gutierrez to enter his hotel room. Here is a clip one


AMBRA GUTIERREZ: Yesterday you touched my breast.

HARVEY WEINSTEIN: Please, I’m sorry. Just come on, I’m used to that.

AG: You’re used to that?

HW: Yes, come in.

AG: No, but I’m not used to that.

HW: I won’t do it again, come on sit here.

JD: Ms. Gutierrez had gone to the police the day before the recording was made. She alleged that Mr. Weinstein had groped her. They had her wear a wire as part of their investigation into her allegations. Charges were never laid — and now some are asking why. Matthew Galluzzo is now a criminal defense lawyer. He used to work in the Manhattan district attorney's sex crimes unit. We reached Mr. Galluzzo in Darien, Connecticut.

CO: Mr. Galluzzo, what was your first reaction to the taped conversation now posted — this one between Ambra Gutierrez and Harvey Weinstein?

MATTHEW GALLUZZO: Well, I've been involved in the making of several tapes like this. As a former prosecutor I used to be listening in on some of the calls, I used to listene on the calls or some of the recordings when they were made, and my impression was that it was pretty damning, that this is pretty good evidence. You don't usually get a confession as good as this, or an admission as good as this from the suspect when the victims are calling them or wearing wires like this.

CO: Now to the layperson's ear it may seem vague — not really clear. What is it to a professional ear, to someone who works with victims statements?

MG: Well, it's about as good as you can usually expect to get from a suspect. I mean, you don't expect to get a suspect to say something like, “Hey I apologize for having touched your breast in violation of the law.” You know, you don't usually get them to say something quite explicit like that, but it certainly corroborates, I think, her testimony that she had been groped without consent the day before, because he basically says he won't do it again. And she asked a very specific question of ‘why did you touch my breast?’ And so, his answer is pretty direct, it’s pretty on point.

CO: How unusual was it to ask her to wear a wire and then return to confront someone who had molested her?

MG: It’s a little bit unusual. You know, usually in situations like this they either make a phone call to the person, and then they record the phone call to try and get them to make an admission like this. They do sometimes — the NYPD does sometimes some people back and to confront somebody with a wire like this — but it's a little bit surprising that they put her back in harm's way, I guess to get this recording, but I guess she must have felt comfortable doing it.

CO: She said apparently that he had he had groped her, he'd tried to pull up her skirt, she had got out. He was angry with her. He told her to meet her and that she instead went to the police, and then returned to see him wearing a wire. So all of this together with her testimony, what she describes, how strong a case do you think there would have been to press charges against Harvey Weinstein on this?

MG: This is a pretty strong case in my opinion. You know, in addition to these two pieces of evidence, I understand she also called a friend of hers very shortly after she was attacked, and that she was upset and that she told her friend what happened. And that would have been legally admissible at the trial as well. You could have had that friend testify about what we call a prompt outcry, so it would have been a combination of those three things really, her testimony, her friend and the wire. And all those things together makes it a pretty strong case as these cases go. I mean, frankly the DA's office brings these cases all the time with nothing more than just the witness's testimony. And here you've got potentially two, pretty strong, corroborating pieces. It's a pretty strong case.

CO: So what do you make of the decision not to pursue it?

MG: I think it's a bad decision. I think it's the wrong decision. And frankly, I don't agree with any of the excuses that they've offered so far for why they didn't do it. It's pretty shameful. I think.

CO: The DA's office, the statement really says, this is a quote, “While the recording was horrifying to listen to, what he emerged from the audio was insufficient to prove a crime under New York law.” And the statement says that, “this combined with other proof issues, left them no choice but to conclude the investigation without criminal charges.” What do you make of that statement?

MG: To the trained ear, to a prosecutor or a defense attorney, that statement is laughable — it's just absurd. I mean, first of all, it's wrong. All you need, as a matter of law to prove someone is guilty of a crime, is the testimony of one witness. So to say that under New York law they didn't have enough, that's just 100 per cent wrong. So, I just, I can't disagree more vehemently with what they said, it's just false.

CO: Well, they also blame the police. They say the NYPD, they could have given them seasoned prosecutors from their sex crimes unit, to have met with them and to have done this properly, and that it was them, it was the police that screwed up.

MG: Again that's really infuriating frankly, because first of all, the police know what they're doing, they're quite good at this. These are the Special Victims Unit detectives they do this at least as often as the DA's office does. Second, that tape’s pretty good. I mean, if they're expecting him to say “I apologize for having committed a violation of penal law 130.56,” you're not going to get that in a tape. This is a pretty good tape. So for them to suddenly blame the police, I mean, they have to work with them and what are they doing blaming the police for having done a good job — that's infuriating.

CO: In the New Yorker article police who were close to this case were quite infuriated by the fact that they didn't press charges. One source says that it was just something that stayed with him.

MG: Yeah, I mean it's one of two things that happened here. Either Cy Vance and his officers had to drop this case because it's Harvey Weinstein and they're buddies with Harvey Weinstein — that there was a campaign contribution, or else they just don't have the guts to do the job, because this was a good case, this is a strong case. And it's the case that was being made against somebody who deserves to be prosecuted because he's got a terrible history. And for them to drop it, it's just cowardice, it's cowardice or it's worse. I'm just really appalled when I review the evidence — having worked in that unit as a sex crimes prosecutor myself — this is an indefensible decision from my perspective, based on what we know. And I think they should be ashamed for it.

CO: When you talk about that he had special treatment, you're referring to the DA Cyrus Vance Jr. What was the relationship there as you understand it?

MG: I understand that he's received campaign contributions from Mr. Weinstein's personal attorney. But that the insinuation that's been put out there on social media and in the news is that there may have been some tit-for-tat as a result of the relationship between the parties. But you know, I don't know, only they know the answer that question — but it certainly doesn't look good.

CO: Do you expect to see this case revived — is that possible?

MG: There's a two year statute of limitations on this crime, it happened in early 2015. And so the two tears have elapsed, so, no.

CO: We're hearing about so many other cases, do you think that is possible that any of them will result in any charges against Mr. Weinstein?

MG: I don't think we should be shocked if somebody comes forward with a viable criminal case. I mean, kind of like what happened with Bill Cosby.

CO: Is it possible that could come in a different jurisdiction. We know that that Mr. Weinstein stayed in Toronto a great deal during the trial International Film Festival, he was in Europe a great deal, he was in Cannes. Is it possible that there are other things?

MG: I wouldn't be shocked. I mean, I don't know, I haven't heard anything to that effect, but I wouldn't be shocked.

CO: And just finally on culpability — the people around Mr. Weinstein who are loosely termed the enablers, the people who set these appointments up, who would have known, should have known, could have known what was going on — do they have any culpability?

MG: Absolutely. If somebody is knowingly putting someone in a position to be sexually assaulted, I mean, that's deplorable, that's shameful and it's possibly even criminal — it depends. If he said “look I want you to arrange for a woman to come to my hotel room so that I can sexually assault her,” and he said OK,” well then yeah, I think it would be criminal. But if all you did was say, “I want to meet this girl, or this actress, or this model, this woman in my room,” it may not necessarily be a criminal act if you facilitate that meeting. But I think it depends on what you know is going to happen or what Mr. Weinstein tells you going to happen.

CO: We'll leave it there. Mr. Galluzzo, I appreciate speaking with you.

MG: Thank you.

CO: All right thank you.

JD: Matthew Galluzzo is a criminal defense lawyer. He used to work as a prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney's sex crimes unit. We reached him in Darien, Connecticut. In a statement the Manhattan district attorney's office said quote “If we could have prosecuted Harvey Weinstein for the conduct that occurred in 2015 we would have.” The statement also reads quote “Anyone who feels they may have been a victim of a crime by this person is strongly encouraged contact our office’s sex crimes hotline.” A spokesperson for one of Mr. Weinstein's lawyers, David Boies, said in a statement that Mr. Boies quote “had been a supporter of the district attorney since long before 2015, including before he was first elected, and has never spoken to him about Harvey Weinstein.” Harvey Weinstein has unequivocally denied all allegations of non-consensual sex.

Back To Top »

Part 2: Sears liquidation, seal met chef

Sears liquidation

Guest: Philip Ryan

JD: To most of us it means no more Christmas wish books, maybe one less place to shop. But the news is having a far greater impact on a lot of people across this country. Yesterday Sears Canada announced it is planning to close its remaining 130 stores. And while thousands of people who work for the chain are wondering what will happen to their severance pay and their benefits, some, like Phil O'Brien, will not be getting anything — at all, because Mr. Bryant and his wife own one of several independently operated Sears Hometown stores. And now, after two decades, they have to figure out what their next steps are. We reached Philip Brian in Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia.

CO: Philip, how are you feeling today after hearing the news that Sears plans to close all of its stores, including yours.

PHILIP RYAN: Well, it's a mixed emotion. It's really sad to have to see something like Sears that's been around in everybody’s home all these years close, and people will be out of, there’s lots of people that are going to be out of work, including the private stores like ours —the Hometown's stores as they call them. But yeah, it is a sad day.

CO: Well, I guess I don't want to talk about Christmas before Halloween, but Christmas season is coming, so what's what's the mood given that that's a big part of your business?

PR: Our biggest thing was that consumers still want us to see that Wishbook out. Yeah, I mean they still wanted to see that Wishbook come out, which when it didn't come out, there was a lot of disappointed, not only kids, adults, because it was almost I guess, a point where you know Christmas was coming and people were starting to get that hype. And then usually when the Wishbook came out, that's when all of your heavy shopping would start around that time.

CO: When you think about that Wishbook, that catalog, and you think about how many generations of kids in Cape Breton would hate to see that catalogue, because that's how you got everything, right? There was no store to go to, you ordered it all through that catalog.

PR: Yeah, it originally started coming by train and then they had got their own trucks or whatever, in this area anyway. And well the Wishbook was a waited for book, and people wanted it — it was getting out there as early as the end of August. And it was consumers that actually really wanted it. And we felt they should have, even if they didn't want to make any other book, they still should have made that book. That was our opinion anyway.

CO: And so how successful was your business?

PR: We were doing actually quite well. The last three years — we went be back and every year we had actually a bit of a sales increase. I think in that time there was one month that we were down just a smidgen, but not very much. But in the three years until this started in June we were growing our business even more, and covering a wider area because of so many of these private the doors that were closed.

CO: And so when the first round of store cuts and store closures came you thought you would survive did you?

PR: Oh yes. We thought we would survive, and then the next cut or whatever we thought we would survive, and then we figured they were done cutting what they needed to cut to get to where they wanted to be. And then yesterday we had a conference call, and that was I believe the company or whatever, is going to start liquidating. I think the 13th they have the court date and I believe after that it could be then early the 19th that they will start liquidating from the stores.

CO: Now you're not employed by Sears?

PR: No.

CO: This is a mom and pop.

PR: Yeah, they don’t call us Sears employees, we are a Hometown store, which is privately owned and ran.

CO: So what does this mean? You and your wife work there.

PR: And two of my sons.

CO: Well what does this mean then that you're going to lose the store?

PR: We're all out of work, so we all start looking for work elsewhere, or we decide we want to start something else on the appliance end. That's something we kind of got to do on our own and start from the ground up again.

CO: What are people saying? People coming into the store — what are they saying to you about that?

PR: Actually that's what I said earlier it’s almost like a funeral because everybody is coming and given their condolences. People are very supportive. We have very loyal, good customers. So, I mean, they they all are concerned and they all feel our pain as well. And so, they're hoping that we're going to open some kind of an appliance store here, because there is nothing in Port Hawkesbury in appliances for customers to order.

CO: You know, we've been following this Sears saga for all these months and talking to people about it saying that this was a viable company. This was a company that not only had generations of support, people knew the company recognition, — the original online sales — the catalog were the originators of that kind of business. You had everything going for you in that company, so who do you blame at this point?

PR: It's hard to say, like I say, I know we had such great support of customers, when we started seeing the downslide in catalogs is when they started, it to us in our store, we lost sales on that end, because people wanted the catalog, it was a staple, you could sit down and kind of flip through it. And I know everything is going online, but around here people are online, but they kind of like the shop, so they look at the catalog or even come into the store and place or order. But there weren't a big fan of losing the catalogue.

CO: Well, there are those who say that the fund managers in the United States didn't really care about this company, it didn't matter to them what communities needed or what kind of business it was possible to build, and that that's the indifference of them that really shut this company down.

PR: I mean that's what we hear. Of course it starts at the top, they're the ones that are holding the ball. They're the ones that actually do all the changes and make all the changes. But it boils down, I think, to should have listened more to the stores and took more of the advice. But when it's being done on a bigger, corporate level, most times we don't know what it is until they're actually doing it.

CO: Until you get that notice like you did.

PR: Exactly. And I mean, it's been a viable company, in my eyes, for many years and it's a staple in most people's homes. Most customers that have came in have said, “Everything in our home is Sears. I bought it from you. I'm on my second lot of stuff, and I bought it from you.” And yes I remember you in, I remember what you bought, and in smaller areas, I mean, we know the families, we know their kids, we watched them grow up and they’re now shopping at Sears. So, I mean, it's a big loss, not only to us, it's a really big loss, I think, to the community and the people actually that supported it all these years.

CO: Philip I hope you land on your feet and I appreciate you speaking with us. Thank you.

PR: I'm glad I could but it's like anything else, we just have to go with this change and hopefully something positive is going to come out of it.

CO: I hope so. Thank you.

PR: You're welcome anytime.

JD: That was Philip Ryan. He and his wife own the Sears store in Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia.

[Music: Piano Ballad]

Trump/Trudeau NAFTA meeting

JD: In the Oval Office today, U.S. President Donald Trump was clear about one thing, he has a quote “great personal relationship” with Canada's Prime Minister. However, he couldn't have been less clear about the future of NAFTA. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in Washington D.C. today to meet with the President and to address members of the Ways and Means Committee. His visit comes as NAFTA negotiations head into their fourth round. Here's what the Prime Minister and the President had to say in the Oval Office before their meeting.


PRIME MINISTER JUSTIN TRUDEAU: We have an incredibly close relationship and there's always ways to improve it, always issues we need to talk through, and that's why having an ongoing, constructive relationship between the President and the Prime Minister is really important, and I'm glad to be able to meet with you here again today. Merci beaucoup.

REPORTER: Mr. President, is NAFTA dead?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We’ll see what happens. We have a tough negotiation and it's something that you will know in the not-too-distant-future. But we are going to be discussing NAFTA and we'll be discussing defense, because we have a truly great and original allies, and mutual defense is very important. And I guess, we'll also be discussing mutual offense, which people don't mention too often, but offense is part of defense. So we have many things to talk about but NAFTA will certainly be a big factor today. We'll see what happens. It's possible we won't be able to make a deal and it's possible that we will. We have a great personal relationship and we have a relationship now as two countries, I think that's as close as ever. But we'll see if we can do the kind of changes that we need. We have to protect our workers and, in all fairness, the Prime Minister wants to protect Canada and his people also. So we'll see what happens with NAFTA. But I've been opposed to NAFTA for a long time in terms of the fairness of NAFTA. And I mean, I think Justin understands this, if we can make a deal, it'll be terminated and that will be fine. They’re going to do well, we're going to do well, but maybe that won't be necessary. But it has to be fair to both countries.

JD: That's Donald Trump speaking in the Oval Office before a meeting with Prime Minister Trudeau. Following that meeting the Prime Minister had this to say to reporters outside the White House.


PRIME MINISTER JUSTIN TRUDEAU: We remain focused, in a serious way, on the NAFTA negotiations and will continue to demonstrate that we understand that it is very important and very possible to get a win-win-win, as Vice President Pence said a number of months ago, out of these negotiations. So saying, I think it's been clear that circumstances are often challenging and we have to be ready for anything — and we are. We're taking the importance of standing up for Canadian jobs and Canadian economic growth extremely seriously and that goes through every engagement we have with the Americans.

JD: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaking to reporters today after meetings in the Oval Office and on Capitol Hill on the state of NAFTA negotiations.

[Music: Bass Heavy Hip Hop]

Seal met chef

Guest: Mark Beaumont

JD: It's a menu item that most restaurant goers wouldn't normally think twice about ordering — tartare with crostini, topped with a quail egg. But the dish at the Indigenous restaurant, Kūkŭm Kitchen in Toronto, has inspired a petition signed by thousands demanding it come off the menu, and it has drawn negative reviews online. That is because it is made with seal meat. Joseph Shawana is Kūkŭm Kitchen’s Chef. We reached him in Toronto.

CO: Mr. Shawana, what would you like to say to people signing this petition against the seal dish at your restaurant?

JOSEPH SHAWANA: I really don't have any problem with other people voicing their concerns, just educate yourself before you post negative reviews, especially online towards the restaurant itself. We are a small 30-seat restaurant where every person that walks in we treat as a special guest, and we teach them about where dishes come from. We did our due diligence and found the best providers for all our products that we have in the restaurant.

CO: Can you just tell us about the seal meat dish that has created this uproar?

JS: This whole social media and petition uproar began just around our seal tartare dish that we have. It's a little four-ounce portion of seal meat we transform into tartare, and we serve to the guest.

CO: The petition has got thousands of signatures, the petition against your restaurant. It hasgot people who have gone online to give negative reviews of the restaurant, some of them are coming from other countries. What effect is that having on your business?

JS: We haven't seen any effects of it yet, but we have been fully booked sort of next three weeks. So in my mind there was no negative effect. If anything, there was a was a lot of positive support that came out from all communities, Indigenous and non-Indigenous were really supportive and voiced their concerns and offered support and their phone calls and emails.

CO: The person who started this petition says that the seal slaughters are violent, horrific, traumatizing and unnecessary, and that this is why they started this petition against your restaurant. What do you say to them?

JS: Any slaughter of any animal is very horrific and terrifying. You go to your slaughterhouse at a mass corporate place that herds cattle in for two days when they're all stressed out on the truck knowing that they’re going to the slaughter, and same with pork and chickens and stuff like that. There's bigger problems out there than us here at this little, small restaurant that we have. The seal regulations set up Canada and ocean of fisheries is one of the most rigorous and most defined guidelines there is in the world, and they're there from when they're on the boat looking at the harvest, and they're there from start to finish. It’s a three-step process and they're there from step one all the way to the harvest.

CO: The petition person says that though you're an Indigenous restaurant that, that's not relevant because your seal meat, according to them, comes from a commercial hunt on the east coast. What can you tell us about where you source your seal meat.

JS: Where I source my seal meat is from SeaDNA out in Quebec. They're the most federally regulated procurers of seal, for the seal harvest, and it's no different from a veal when it's a cultural thing and it's still done by the same regulations that the government has in place.

CO: Now there is somebody who has started a counter-petition to support your restaurant, an Anishnawbe woman, who is writing that we're dealing with miseducation and ignorance and stereotypes she says, and she started that. How much response has there been to that counter-petition?

JS: I would say it's been about same as the — just the petition itself on the signatures on those both petitions — last time I checked on both them there were just over 3,000 each. It's helped us maintain smiles on our face and keep our heads up, and it’s reassuring us that we're not doing anything wrong here. We're educating people that come into the restaurant on Indigenous foods and Indigenous cultures of Canada and North America. By us having be on the menu it's my way of paying homage to our northern brothers and sisters who struggle through the winter months and depend on seal and the seal trade to support their needs.

CO: Just finally, where does the inspiration for this dish come from? Where to do the recipe come from or the idea come from?

JS: Speaking for myself, I tried a few other techniques with it, a few other additional things that I wanted to add to it and take away. But the most important thing is letting the ingredients speak for themselves. So that was my way of showcasing seal in the raw form or tartare. That way we taste every single flavour that seal has to offer, and that goes for everything else that I have on the menu here. We don't overcomplicate anything. We use ingredients from the east coast to the west coast, and we expanded our menu up to the arctic, so is a vast array of Indigenous food here at the restaurant.

CO: All right we'll leave it there. Mr. Shawana, I appreciate speaking with you.

JS: Thank you. Bye.

CO: Bye.

JD: We reached Chef Joseph Shawana in Toronto.

[Music: Trance Bass]

Lee high school

JD: So let's say you work at a place called Bob Smith Solutions. The problem is people want to KFC it. They want to start abbreviating its name to BS Solutions — awkward. So the big wigs decide to change the name. They announce a bold rebranding. Henceforth Bob Smith's Solutions will be known as Building Synergistic Solutions. Now the plus is you don't have to change is stationary. The minus you haven't really solved the original problem — at all. Now that was a ridiculous hypothetical situation. This one isn't — hypothetical I mean. After the racist rally in Charlottesville Virginia — which organizers claimed was all about preserving a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. — communities across the south became concerned about their own existing tributes to the general. One of those places is San Antonio, Texas — home to Lee High School. In August, members of the school board voted unanimously to change the name. What they would change it to was not clear — until Monday night. That is when the president of the board suggested a solution she said would quote “honour the legacy of the past and help the community heal.” The solution? To rename Lee High's School, Legacy of Educational Excellence High school, which abbreviated is L-E-E High School. The Plus? They don't have to change the sign or the stationery. The minus? In the words of board trustee Ed White, “I just think we're trying to put lipstick on a pig. If you're going to still have the acronym LEE.” Or, to go back to my hypothetical, it's kind of a B.S. Solutions scenario. One trustee insists that changing the school name from Lee to L-E-E proves that, “We support the past, we support the future.” Sure. Except that some parts of the past like some decisions of the present are insupportable.

Back To Top »

Part 3: California fires rescue centre, mystery hole

California fires rescue centre

Guest: Monica Hardeman

JD: Monica Hardeman runs a rescue centre in Bangor, California. She has dozens of animals, including horses, that she is rehabilitating. And this week as the fires have threatened her property she has been trying to protect those animals. We reached her earlier today in nearby Oroville, California, before she returned to her rescue centre.

CO: Monica, I know you've come into town to get some supplies for your asthma but when you left your centre what was it like? What was what was the scene there?

MONICA HARDEMAN: A wall a wall of smoke you can't even see around. It's horrifying to see all the horses in that flat field. And yesterday when you looked out and all the tankers were dropping and the helicopters, you could see where they were putting out the fire. You can hear them now, but you cannot see them. It's that smoky.

CO: And how are the horses coping with that?

MH: I know how I'm coping, I'm having a really hard time breathing. We're feeding them really well and trying to keep them comfortable in a certain area. There's a lot of horses mixed together that shouldn't be together. But I want my horses to live. And I can't have them near trees. They seem to be doing fine but they feel the stress. My older horses are really stressed out, but I don't want to put them in their areas closer to the perimeter fence of the ranch, because I don't want them to get burned.

CO: How close is the fire to you at this point?

MH: I believe it's probably, I would say, about a mile or two.

CO: And traveling in which direction?

MH: Well, this is one of the biggest problems. And that's what they're saying, because I have no cell service up there. When I came down I saw some updates and it was saying that the wind is making the fire very complex because it keeps changing direction. So yesterday it was moving northeast heading right for us. And then the wind died and it switched and now it's going east again right now but it keeps shifting.

CO: Is your centre in an evacuation zone?

MH: Oh, yeah. We were in the mandatory evacuation zone yesterday.

CO: Has anyone tried to persuade you to leave or you've been ordered to leave?

MH: Yeah, they want us to leave and they know we don't want to leave. I was told that more so, the horses were actually going to be safer, but our house was not, because the house that we live in has trees all around it. And you can see in that video I had, in the pictures that the horses are in dirt, dirt doesn't burn but the house is wood. They basically told me the horses are safer than you are if you sleep in that house. So I considered taking my truck and just sleeping out in the field in the truck. I don’t know safe that is because it’s got diesel in it but these that have been going through my head right now.

CO: What would it take to persuade you to leave?


MH: I won't. Nothing. I just, I can't do that. I mean I have to make sure that — and if they did want me to move the horses onto the road — our horses, we have a lot of really, really difficult horses. These are horses nobody wants. Some of them are wild, they're not horses you can walk over in the stall and put a halter on. And if they were to try and put them on the road Gabe and I have to be able to keep them going in a certain direction, and , someone who's not like a real horse savvy person, that's a fireman, God bless them they're the best people in the world, they're not they're not going to know what to do. And I don't want to risk my horses getting killed somebody getting killed. I mean, you have 72 horses running down a road — it's life or death. It's extremely dangerous. And so I'd rather be there to guide and help and make sure things go a certain way than just to walk away. I can't do it. I won't do it.

CO: Monica, I know your dad is a fire commissioner in San Francisco. What does he think about your decision to stay behind?

MH: He doesn't like it.

CO: What does he say to you? What's his advice to you?

MH: He was shocked to know I would even stay. Fires, especially in wind like this, are nothing to mess with and it's hard for them. They're scared. My brothers are very busy. They’re driving three hours away to help us. You know they're worried about their sister and it’s hard, I’m going to start crying.

CO: But you also have a daughter.

MH: Yes, and she's very safe. I would never put her in this path. I keep calling her school to tell them to tell her I'm OK, or to please have her call me.

CO: What is she is saying to you?

MH: She understands me really well. But I have a child so it's like I have to — I know I have to take care of myself and she just keeps. Gabe and I aren’t going to be stupid, but she understands what we do. And you know she's really worried about the horses, and she has a horse and she's just sick with it too, she's like “you can't let our animals die.”And I agree with her. I’m sorry.


CO: No don't. It sounds just so difficult, your decisions.

MH: It’s terribly overwhelming.

CO: And now you've gone into town to get some medication.

MH: I can’t breathe in masks.

CO: Because of your asthma and so you're going back in?

MH: Yeah, I have to.

CO: Will they let you back in?

MH: The good news is that my brother knows all the Cal Fire. He has a lot of connections, and they know what's going on as far as we have to rewire the well pump to make sure that the water comes in, that’s why my other brother’s on his way to rewire the well pump, because we've never had a situation where we would think that the power would be down for weeks, or at least a week. And so he’s assured me that they will let me back in.

CO: Monica how are you going to keep yourself and your horses safe? What's your plan?

MH: Well, for now my goal is to just you know I have a defensible space, which is great. For now I'm just working on making sure they have water, food. In the long term we can't be in this area. We can't be in an area where it's this wildfire. And I have to think of the future like that, keep them safe long term. I know this county has never seen this many fires in this season, but one in July was enough for me, and now this one pretty much confirms that we have to go.

CO: But in the short run you have to keep yourself safe.

MH: I know, we do. If we don't take care of ourselves how do we take care of that. And I know that, it's just I'm extremely stubborn. You know, I've thought about it in the past, that's why I can do this and that's why I've gotten the horses this far, is because I don't give up. And if I know something should be done a certain way, I just keep doing it, and I don't usually listen to people because I'm just looking out for the horses.

CO: Monica, I know have to get back to the centre.

MH: The clock is ticking.

CO: Please take care of yourself and your and your health, and thank you. Thank you for speaking with us. I'm so sorry.

MH: Thank you, god bless you so much.

CO: All right, bye, bye.

JD: Monica Hardeman is the founder of an animal rescue centre in Bangor, California. We reached her Oroville earlier today.

[Music: Electric Guitar Strums]

UBC attack

Guest: Professor Kenneth Catania

JD: Mary Hare has tried to forget what happened to her in a University of British Columbia dorm room. But this week the former international student was forced to recall the details in a Vancouver courtroom. Last fall, Ms. Hare, 19 years old at the time, alleges that she awoke to a fellow student stabbing her in the throat. She was able to escape when two other UBC students intervened and put the man in a chokehold. Now her alleged attacker is facing charges of attempted murder, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon outside the courthouse, Ms. Hare, who has been back home in Oregon since the attack, spoke to reporters.


MARY HARE: It's, it's been a while, it's been a year since that happened and having to relive that again after reliving it so many times, is always intense. So much time has passed but I see him and it’s like the same day again. It was not how I expected my 19th year to ago at all. And I think just knowing I did everything I could. Like I fought him off. I did everything I could have done. And like, I don't have any regrets about what I did. And I know that I was as strong as I could have been. I mean, I'm still afraid to open a door. I'm still afraid of going outside, and I'm still afraid of meeting people, just because I have a residual fear like opening the door and seeing someone standing there wanting to kill me. And it's not easy to get over. Even though like I asked UBC to provide me more help and they were very slow about it. But I think, it's a big school but, I think that they can pay more attention to students and help them out more. I want to get my story out, and I want people to see my face, I don't want to just be a victim. I was able to respond to the situation. I didn't freeze up, I was able to fight back. I don't think it was bravery because I didn't have to think about it. It was just my instinct to do, and I’m glad that I have that. 20-year-old Mary Hare, former international student at UBC speaking to reporters yesterday.

[Music: Woodwinds]

Mystery hole

Guest: Kent Moore

JD: Here's something scary. A giant hole has opened up in Antarctica. Here's something scarier. Scientists are having trouble explaining why. The mystery hole is in the middle of the ice-covered region, it is said to be the size of a great lake. Kent Moore is a physics professor at the University of Toronto, Mississauga. He has been studying this phenomenon. We reached Mr. Moore in Toronto.

CO: Professor Moore, what does this hole look like?

PROFESSOR KENT MOORE: Well, we've only seen it from satellites. So it's kind of hard to visualize, but you could imagine you're in the middle of the Antarctic winter, and essentially there's sea ice as far as you can see. And then suddenly as you're walking along, you come across this huge expanse of open water, which is now probably as large as Lake Huron, so just an immense area of open water in the middle of the ice in the middle of the Antarctic winter.

CO: And how was it discovered?

KM: Well, a similar event happened last year, so we've been kind of sensitized to looking at this region. And so about a month ago just looking at satellite imagery at the region we noticed that this hole or polynya as we call it, actually has come back this year.

CO: What is it you call it?

KM: Polynya, which is a Russian word actually for a region of open water in the midst of an ice pack.

CO: Is it on the coast of Antarctica is it further in?

KM: Well, that's what's interesting is that so one gets these areas of open water around the coast of Antarctica forming all the time. But this one is deep in the ice pack, it's a couple hundred kilometres away from the coast. And it's a couple of hundred kilometers from the kind of edge of the ice. If you went north you know, of course, eventually you're going to get into warmer temperatures, so it's really this amazing area of open water right in the middle of this very, very large ice pack.

CO: How can that be? I mean, it must be so cold?

KM: Well that's the thing which is really cool. So we think what's happening is that in the ocean it turns out you can have warm water at depth, which is warmer than the water at the surface, and it can be down in the ocean because it's actually quite salty. And so there's a seamount or a little kind of mountain under the ocean in this region. And so the ocean currents, we think, are kind of bringing some of this warm water up towards the surface where it actually melts the sea ice. And you're quite right, you would expect if you know this thing to open up it would freeze over right away. But it's been open for a month now, and we think it's because of this replenishment of warm water from the depth, which is keeping the ice from refreezing in this region.

CO: You say you saw something similar a year ago?

KM: Yes, so last year — this is an area which is quite interesting — so in the 70s for three years in a row, three winters in a row a very, very large polynya or hole opened up in the ice in this region. And since then, for about 40 years, it's kind of gone away. There have been some small ones that have opened for a short period of time but last year a little bit smaller one open for about three weeks. And so that caught our interest because we're always interested in seeing if this thing would ever come back. And so it came back last year, and then to our great surprise, it came back this year even larger. And last year it lasted three weeks this year it's lasted four weeks, and my guess is it'll stay open for the rest of the winter.

CO: What do you think of that?

KM: Again, it's something which as a as a scientist who studies how the ocean and the atmosphere kind of interact and transfer energy back and forth, it's quite an interesting phenomenon, because as I you said you would expect that ice to freeze back right away and it's remained open. So that tells us that the ocean is actually responding to the fact that the sea ice isn't present, and it's maintaining this upwelling of warm water, which is keeping the ice from freezing in that region.

CO: So logically people want to know if this is caused by climate change?

KM: Yeah, and that's really hard. For instance, if we think of the Arctic, we've noticed sea ice losses year after year going on for 30 years. And that's a long enough time that we can attribute that to the fact that the climate is warming. So two of these events happening, two years in a row, really isn't a long enough kind of a trend for us to actually say it's the result of global warming. But it is curious that that it's come back now after an absence of 40 years. So we can't say it's global warming, but there's definitely something which has happened down there, which has allowed this opening to occur two years in a row. So something is going on but we just don't have enough data yet to really pin it down. Hopefully with two of these now events happening in a time period where we have a lot more data than we had in the 70s, hopefully be able to narrow down exactly why it opened up and of course what its impact is on the ocean, because actually the ocean is losing huge amounts of heat to the atmosphere in this region and so over time that's actually going to cool the ocean, and so there will be an impact on the ocean circulation moving forward. We just don't yet know how big of an impact it will be.

CO: And what the impact on wildlife?

KM: That's a good question. So these polynyas are known as regions where there's lots of enhanced biological activity, so I'm sure that there's lots of seals that are using this region to come up to the surface and breathe. It's much easier to breathe when you've got a huge area of open water than finding small, little holes in the ice. And so I assume that this sea leopards have congregated in that in that region as well, and maybe orcas as well. It's just we've never actually been able to kind of get into that region in the winter. So we actually don't know how much is going on, but I'm sure that the wildlife know about it and are using it just like an oasis. It's like an oasis in the desert, there's this area of open water in a very sterile, frozen environment. And so of course the wildlife there are going to be using that to their benefit.

CO: All right we'll leave it there. Professor Moore, thank you.

KM: You're welcome.

JD: Kent Moore is a professor of physics at the University of Toronto, Mississauga. We reached him in Toronto.

[Music: Upright Bass]

Red Wings octopus

JD: When Nick Horvath set foot inside Detroit's Little Caesar’s Arena last Thursday, he was ready. He had smuggled in the octopus, and like so many Redwings fans before him, he was going to make a big splash. According to what is called “The Legend of the octopus” a fan at a Red Wings game hurls a dead octopus onto the rink for good luck. It Started in 1952 when the team needed eight wins to snag the cup. The octopus was a fitting mascot — having eight arms in all. Bizarrely it worked. On Thursday night however, at the wings home opener Mr. Horvath’s plan didn't go so smoothly. He spoke to host Chris dela Torre on CBC Windsor's Afternoon Drive about what happened right after he threw the octopus.


NICK HORVATH: I immediately got grabbed up by security and escorted out. They told me I could voluntarily leave and I agreed to do that I had no problems, and I'm outside still of the property, I’m about fifteen feet from another security gate I have to pass, and the two security guards came back and said “We’re going to ask you a few more questions.” So they brought me in and brought me downstairs, I got a misdemeanor from the police and they told me I was banned. Don't ever come back, and if I do I'm in big trouble.

CHRIS DELA TORRE: Because I know you’ve thrown one before and this is a long standing tradition at the Redwings games.

NH: Yeah, a sixty-five-year tradition. I was pretty disappointed. I can understand getting kicked out, I had no problem with that, but you're going to ban me for something people have this many decades. Come on guys.

CDT: Before security grabbed you and threw you out of there what was the reaction like? What did fans think about what you were doing?

NH: They loved it. They were going nuts, they were cheering, and high fives all around. And then when I was getting escorted out they were booing them bigtime. “Let him go, let him go.” This has been going on for years. We don't do it, during game play, we don't do it when it's going to hurt anyone. You know, it's a fun loveable thing. It's a dead octopus, you buy it at the store to eat it, it’s already dead. If anything, I’m making of this thing go out with a bang, you know? I’m giving him some fame.

CDT: How do you even get it into the building?

NH: Saran Wrap, lots of Saran Wrap. I Saran Wrapped it by itself into the shape of a football. And I get my buddies to use some more saran wrap and then I put it on my stomach and they wrap it around my waist with more Saran Wrap and put the jersey on and you can barely even tell it was there.

CDT: Wow. Does it smell?

NH: Yeah, it stinks. The smell is on your hands for like two or three days after too.


JD: That was Redwings fan Nick Horvath in conversation with CBC Windsor Chris dela Torre yesterday. Mr. Horvath faces a lifetime ban from Redwings games for throwing an octopus onto the rink last week.

[Music: Ambient Guitar Plucks]

MacArthur Grant

JD: It is an annual award you got to be a bit careful doesn't go to your head. It is the so-called MacArthur Genius Grant. This year's MacArthur fellows have just been announced, and the latest group of geniuses — or genii maybe? I guess a genius would know. Anyhow, the group includes artists, musicians, architects and activists. We're going to speak to one of them tomorrow. Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen. Tonight however, we have some tape from our archives of another newly minted genius. Anthropologist Jason De Leon is behind the Undocumented Migration Project. He tracks the movement of people crossing the border from Mexico to the United States through the artifacts they leave behind. From our archives, here is Mr. De Leon in conversation with Carol in 2013.


JASON DE LEON: We're showing people the stuff that migrants have left in the desert, and we're letting them kind of decide how they want to feel about it, or what they should be taking home as a message. But there’s, I mean, there's a wall of backpacks and hundreds of backpacks that are up on the gallery wall. And it really just has a very kind of heavy weight, in terms of giving you a sense of the sheer magnitude of this process that's been going on for many, many years. And also just the number of people who were involved in this in this ongoing social process.

CO: When you say backpacks, would everyone be carrying something like that?

JDL: Yes, so everybody is typically carrying a backpack loaded with food, water, medications, possibly a few sort of personal items. And the wall of backpacks that we've put up an installation gives you kind of a sense of the diversity of the backpacks. You know, many of them are camouflage or black, and these are ones that are purchased in northern Mexico, in border towns that cater to migrants. Some of them are brought from home, so school backpacks or the backpacks that they might have belonged to a child, that then an adult will use for whatever reasons to carry their stuff in.

CO: The idea though, is that every person who is trying to get across the desert in Arizona, to get from Mexico to the United States, this very treacherous journey, carrying everything they need to survive in that in that bag. I mean that's life, right?

JDL: Exactly. And I can't imagine what I would put in my own backpack. I mean, you get a sense of people's lives when you find these bags that have been left behind, and they've got you know the extra socks, the Band-Aids, the aspirin and maybe the picture of the family, a picture of a child.

CO: And what are the conditions they're walking in? What is the climate there?

JDL: It is extreme, every season is extreme, I would say. You can die from dehydration in the summer when it's over 100 degrees every day. You can freeze to death in the winter when it drops down to freezing, and it snowed two weeks ago in the mountains out here. Or you can drown during the monsoon season when the rains start at the end of the summer. And many people are taking these and these mountain route because it's harder for Border Patrol to catch them.

JD: From archives that was Carol in conversation with anthropologist and now MacArthur Genius Fellow Jason De Leon in 2013. And tomorrow evening we will speak with another MacArthur recipient, novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen.

[Music: Trance Hip Hop]

Beard permit

JD: Dateline Konibodom Tajikistan.


JD: When judging the political culture of another country it is important not to apply what is called an ethnocentric viewpoint. For example, let's take Tajikistan, which sits between Uzbekistan and China in Central Asia. At first glance its political culture may seem terrible, but a more objective look reveals that its political culture is actually — objectively terrible. Well this is largely due to President Emomali Rahmon, whose favorite things are repressing freedom of speech, restricting human rights, and himself — not in that order. When it comes to governing Mr. Rahmon is big on crackdowns, such as the one his government initiated a few years ago. It is a crackdown on radicalization, in the form of a crackdown on beards. Now if that seems a little extreme, you should know it's actually extremely extreme. Hundreds-of-thousands of men have been arrested for having beards. Thousands of men have been forcibly shaved. So it's not surprising that two Tajik actors, in the northern town of Konibodom to perform a play, were detained by police this week for their beards. The thing is, the beards aren't their beards exactly. They're the beards of the characters they portray in the play. They just happen to grow out of their faces. What is surprising is that the Konibodom police understood this logic and accepted it. And, in a surprising gesture of unusual tolerance that is also just weird, the police issued the actor's special licenses to remain hirsuit — you could call them beard permits. So now one of the actors says quote “We can freely walk around the town wearing beards without fear.”

Back To Top »

CBC would like to acknowledge the support of the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund.