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Letters to the editor for the week of August 23rd, 2012

The Flag Stop Festival says thanks!

I can't think of a better way to cap off the 1st Annual Flag Stop Theatre & Arts Festival than paddling a canoe carrying a giant horse lantern on glassy Alta Lake while the final performance unfolded on the floating stage beneath a starry sky streaked by meteor showers.

It was a magical afternoon and evening beginning with the music and theatre performances of the "Young But True" seven-to nine-year-olds who emerged from Aude Ray's Expressive Arts workshops at The Point this summer. Michael Faiella kept the tunes rolling out for the rest of the afternoon until the opening reception for the TRACKS art show began in the heritage lodge.

The Improv Theatre troupe, also emerging from this summer's workshops at The Point, was the first to take the floating stage with a hugely entertaining set before a sold out crowd assembled on the grass and back porch. Their performance was followed by the debut of Agnes featuring Lilli Clark, Angie Nolan, Greigh Laschuk and Wayne Escott. Simon Stribling and Josh Roberts provided the 1920s-era jazz, and then added Lauri Lyster and Rajan Das inside the lodge where they got the dance floor shaking to their hot swing jazz set.

Thanks to all the artists from Whistler, the Sea to Sky and Vancouver, both young and older, who spun the magic for the crowd. Thanks also to all of the local sponsors who supported the festival so generously: Pasta Lupino, Burnt Stew Computers, Nesters Market, Local Automotive, Pique Newsmagazine, Armchair Books, Mountain FM, Dubh Linn Gate, Southside Diner, Prior Skis, The Love Nest, Whistler Backroads, Sherwin Williams Paint, Rona, WMN.FM and XL Audio Visual. Thanks also to Tourism Whistler for helping to spread the word, and to the RMOW for their support with our pilot project at The Point. A special thank you to all the volunteers who put in a great effort to make it all happen.

At their best, festivals manage to bring together the many layers in a society, uniting people and leaving them with a sense of magic. When the stars were falling from the sky, and the crowd on the grass watched Aude Ray's final Suitcase of Dreams performance on the floating stage, I felt we'd managed to do just that. We're already looking forward to next year's festival on the second weekend of August. See you then, or at the final two Saturdays at The Point this summer!

Stephen Vogler

Artistic Director, The Point Artist-Run Centre

Our turn at the WHC Centre

We've been coming here for skiing since 1992, when the Keg was right on the edge of town, and the red, blue, orange and black chairs were all still in service on Whistler. For the last 12 years, we've been owners here, bringing our kids here for the summer as well, and watched them grow into the numerous daredevil and not so daredevil activities Whistler offers, summer and winter. Over the years we've had various trips to Whistler Physio for minor bits and pieces, and friends we've travelled with have graced the health care centre with various broken bones and torn ligaments.

Until yesterday, we had avoided the serious stuff; but then it became our turn. Our eldest daughter had been playing on the tightropes at Rainbow Park. She came running over to us with her sister in tow, held out her arm, and announced, "I think I've broken my arm." An arm doesn't have two elbows: it took only a glance to realize that she was right.

We'd like to thank the lovely lady and her sister who called an ambulance for us, sent her daughters to the car park to wait for the paramedics, who stood over Becky making a human sun block, and who made (with Becky's little sister, Maddy) much better distracting conversation with her than we were able to muster. We'd also like to thank the man who appeared from nowhere with a bag of fresh ice at 4 p.m. on the hottest afternoon of the year: where that came from, we'll never know, but it was ideal to pack around the rapidly swelling forearm.

Thanks are also due to the paramedics who attended, whose names we were told, but which were lost in the parental anxiety of the moment; and to all the staff at the hospital here in Whistler, who reset Becky's bones in double quick time, and who exuded the reassuring confidence that comes with working on broken bones day in, day out.

So, a couple of broken bones for a girl on the cusp of her teenage years, in her favourite place in the world, and a pink cast to boot. Rite of passage completed; one of life's boxes ticked. Thanks again to everyone who played their part in this small drama — on reflection; there was no better stage upon which it could have been set.

Greg & Liz Banner

London (and Whistler)

Humans' Crossing

Drivers beware of humans crossing from parking Lots 1 and 2 on Blackcomb way. I drive this daily and it has come apparent that visitors and locals alike refuse to cross at the intersection — they instead choose to use the middle of a busy road without a care in the world.

I have come close too many times to count. How about we police this like we do so many other hot spots this summer. I'm sure jay walking and riding your bikes in and out of traffic will add to the money we need so badly. I have yet to see any sign of the RCMP even monitoring this area. Also, maybe the Resort Municipality of Whistler could put back the fence to deter them from crossing at that area, as it's only a matter of time before a fatality will occur.

Russell Peters


What Does it Mean to be a Sikh?

This one question arises in my mind when I think of the shooting spree at the Sikh Gurdwara (Congregation place of worship) of Wisconsin in Oak Creek on Sunday, August 5 that left six dead. Why did this happen and why are only Sikhs being targeted? And then I think that there is a lack of communication or interaction with other communities about expressing our faith.

We must use media as well as other modern resources to explain who Sikhs are and what their identity is. The Sikh faith is the fifth largest in the world with more than 30 million followers spread over 165 countries. It includes belief in one God and that the goal of life is to lead an exemplary existence. The Sikh faith originated in Pakistan and North India, about 500 years ago. Sikhism is sometimes confused with Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism because of geographical proximity and cultural similarities.

Sikhs live according to a code of honour in service of all humanity. Sikh ethics advocate equality for men and women of every race and religion. Sikhs have a history of being the defenders of the defenseless. Sikhs are known for acting against the terror of forced conversion. Many Sikhs throughout history are respected for having sacrificed their own lives, so that people of other religions may have freedom to worship in the manner of their choice.

A Sikh believes in one God and follows teachings of the ten Gurus. Guru Nanak was the first Guru and was born in 1469 AD in Punjab, Pakistan, and founded a new religion Sikhism. Sikhism is a progressive religion well ahead of its time. Sikhism preaches a message of devotion and remembrance of God at all times, truthful living, equality of mankind and denounces superstitions and blind rituals and seeks the welfare of all the human beings of the globe and promotes peace, integration, co-existence and emphasizes the importance of human values. Sikhism is open to all through the teachings of its 10 Gurus enshrined in the Sikh Holy Book and Living Guru, Sri Guru Granth Sahib, that is, Word Divine.

Sikhism is a modern, scientific, and practical religious way of life. The philosophy of Sikhism therefore values AIR as a Guru, the WATER as a father and EARTH occupies the holy place of a mother. DAYS and NIGHTS are the nurses in whose laps the whole creation fondles. Let this superb system function uninterruptedly as designed by God. Natural resources are the bounties of nature for humanity and these invaluable boons should be utilized wisely.

Sikhism abhors asceticism and advocates an active life of a married householder in a classless and casteless society. Considering wealth as essential for our maintenance, we are not to abandon all patience and contentment for its achievement. The unending pursuit of wealth destroys our peace of mind and our craving for it increases; and thus a well-balanced life is disturbed. Sikhism does not accept the ideology of pessimism; rather it advocates optimism and hope, CHARDI KALA, that is, high spirits or dynamic power. Indulgence is considered to be an entrapment of ego. Sikhs believe meditation is a means of moderation to guard against excess pride, desire, greed, and attachment, which can result in anger and diminish the soul's connection with God. It commands its followers to:

1. earn their living by doing honest and productive work

2. share the fruit of their honest labour with the needy and those unable to help themselves;

3. remember the Lord, the Creator, at all times.

Any Sikh is free to read the Guru Granth Sahib in the Gurdwara or in their home. People of all religions are welcome to the Gurdwara. A free community kitchen can be found at every Gurdwara, which serves meals to everyone without any distinction of caste, creed, colour, religion and would be the same whether one is rich or poor and all sit in the same row. Guru Nanak first started this institution, which outlines the basic Sikh principles of selfless service, sharing food with one another in a sense of humility, oneness and equality of mankind. The word GURDWARA means an abode of the Guru (the spiritual teacher), the Holy Guru Granth.

Outside every Gurdwara there is a high flag post covered with saffron— or an orange-coloured cloth, surmounted with a double-edged sword. This symbolizes the combination of temporal and spiritual aspects of Sikh life. Also the flag post shows the presence of a Gurdwara for the people to know, where they can come to pay their respects, without distinction or fear.

The word Sikh means constant learner, a disciple and a follower of Sikhism. A Sikh loves all. He/She is characterized as a broad-minded, enterprising, energetic and industrious human being. A Sikh has a unique and distinctive personality and is represented by five symbols know as five Ks which caution a Sikh to introspect and wash out all impurities for qualitative living. KESH (long unshorn hair) —representing holiness, naturalness, saintliness, spirituality, commitment and masculinity. KANGA (comb) — signifying cleanliness, orderliness and spiritual discipline. KARA (a steel bracelet) — reminding unity with God, universal brotherhood, self-restraint, strength of steel, victory over superstitions. KACHHERA (pair of shorts) — observing moral restraint, continence, chastity and sexual discipline; and finally the KIRPAN (a curved sword) — symbolizing courage, dignity, grace and emblem of power.

This is a Sikh's uniform, along with a turban. The turban is a sound indication to others that a Sikh lives in the image of infinity and is dedicated to serving all. This unique identity conveys royalty, grace and uniqueness. A turban of a Sikh does not represent anything except complete commitment to his Guru and utmost reverence to God. Sikhs are meant to keep hair in its natural unaltered state. In addition to maintaining long hair themselves, Sikh parents are to keep their children's hair intact from birth onwards.

According to the Sikh Code of Conduct, all intoxications, such as alcohol, tobacco and all its derivations, and trimming of the hair from any part of the body are forbidden. Adultery is considered a sin. A Sikh should regard another man's wife as his sister or mother and another man's daughter as his own daughter. The same rule is applicable to the Sikh women also.

All Sikhs share the surname Singh, which means a lion. All Sikh women use the name Kaur, which means a princess. In Sikhism these titles eliminate discrimination based on "family name" (which denotes a specific caste) and reinforces that all humans are sovereigns and equal under God. So at a distance with their beards and turbans, Sikhs may look a bit different, yet as one grows to know more about them, one finds in them kindred spirits and true friends. Some observations regarding Sikhs are as follows:

American writer and historian H. L. Bradshaw in Sikhism — A Faith Of New Age wrote: "This religion befits the inquest of science. Therefore, for the man of tomorrow, Sikh religion will be his last hope and refuge. Sikhism is a universal world faith with a message to humanity."

Said Sir Winston Churchill: "British people are highly indebted and obliged to Sikhs for a long time. I know that within this century we needed their help twice (in two world wars) and they did help us very well. As a result of their timely help, we are today able to live with honour, dignity, and independence. In the war, they fought and died for us, wearing the turbans."

General Sir Frank Messervy said this: "In the last two world wars 83,005 turban-wearing Sikh soldiers were killed and 109,045 were wounded. They all died or were wounded for the freedom of Britain and the world, and during shell fire, with no other protection but the turban, the symbol of their faith."

My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims, the wounded officer and a community that is still in shock. There is no doubt in my mind that the heroic actions of the American police officers prevented a greater tragedy.

In the end, the Sikh nation is very large-hearted and in spite of racial differences and visual identity, we co-exist with others happily and remain kind-hearted.

Amrinder Singh Ghangas


Slow Food thanks

Slow Food Cycle Sunday would like to thank all the local businesses, vendors, volunteers and bike riders for participating in the best event yet this past Sunday. Countless volunteers on 14 open farms hosted over 50 vendors and welcomed over 4,000 riders, who hopefully went away, not only with sated palates, but a better understanding of the importance of preserving farmland (if only to be able to do this ride every year!).

Mark your calendars for next year: August 18, 2013.

Niki Vankerk and Anna Helmer


Paddles Up

The Pemberton Canoe Association would like to extend a boat full of thanks to all of the supporters and donors who helped send 28 paddlers to the World Outrigger Sprint Championships in Calgary August 7-16.

We would like to acknowledge the support from the Village of Pemberton and the Squamish Lillooet Regional District who stepped up as a GOLD sponsor for the team. A team banner hung proudly in the Team Canada tent and our team shirts were a big hit. Special thanks to BANG ON shirts in Vancouver for donating the shirts!

Our Legion Dinner fundraiser was a big success thanks to the Scotiabank, which matched our ticket sales. Thank you to the Pemberton Legion for the venue. There were many silent auction prizes thanks to the wonderful local businesses in Whistler and Pemberton; Local Motion, Pemberton Valley Lodge, Delta Vancouver Suites, WB Bike Park, Ivy Esthetics, Spud Valley Sporting Goods, Wag n Wash, Mile One Eatery, Suikiya Sushi, Blackbird Bakery, Michelle Beauregard, Napa Auto Parts, Canadian Wilderness Adventures, Deb Hillary, Martin Dahinden, RONA, Mt. Currie Coffee Co., AC Petroleum, Karen Love Art, and Pemberton Valley Nurseries.

This World Class Sprint event was an inspiration for all the youth and adult paddlers alike. Witnessing the cultures and spirit of the other countries was truly an experience they will all remember. The Pemberton Youth paddlers were top notch and we would like to congratulate Aleaa Dahinden, the first Canadian youth to ever earn a medal at the Worlds. Aleea fought hard for a bronze in the V-1 category, just seconds behind two New Zealand paddlers.

A huge thank you to Hugh Fisher who spent hours training the kids five days a week all summer long. Hugh was very successful at the event bringing home five gold medals in a variety of events, including the V-1 Senior Masters category. We would also like to thank Karen Tomlinson who organized the youth paddlers during their training sessions in Pemberton.

The next Worlds are in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which has got the paddlers talking! Many other events are coming up and the Canoe Club is gearing up to continue training through the fall and developing a five-year plan to ensure that we have strong paddlers ready for the next world championships, as well as regional and national events.

Liz Scroggins,

Pemberton Canoe Association

Competition Complete, Many Tired, Happy Pilots Gone Home

The 2012 Canada Paraglide Nationals are over. It was a fantastic competition that proved our new upper launch in MacKenzie Basin is capable of supporting a world-cup race. Up above, visiting pilots from all over the world were blown away by the powerful, big flying. They loved that you could find yourself orbiting across from bald eagles and turkey vultures working the cliff-front thermals that lead to the ridge tops. They were gobsmacked by the route options including our radical "vol-bivi" opportunities (paraglide alpine bivouacking). Some were intimidated by our gaping valley crossings but they learned to find the bullets that usually get you across. Sunny evenings they discovered our magic lift powered by cool katabatic air slipping downslope under a warm stable valley air mass, lifting the entire body and every wing in it inexorably until dusk. Several pilots reported they got more, better adventure flying here in one week than all year back home. With this competition Pemberton's become a top international free-flying aspiration.

The competition organizers, Jim Orava and I, would like to greatly thank our competitors for coming and for their sportsmanship. Likewise we gratefully thank our 37 volunteers, many of whom came from out of town and abroad to bring their passion, specialized knowledge and experience to the comp. They served as race officials, in logistical support, emergency response, and hospitality. They were dedicated and they sacrificed. They got shirts.

We'd also like to thank, in no preferential order, Pemberton and region's local governments, our public emergency responders, our sponsors, local businesses and media, and of course, our residents and local First Nations. You were all superb and understanding of the unique demands of the competition, of our learning experience in producing the comp for the first time, and of the impact our sport creates in a close community like Pemberton. Loving thanks to the forbearance of our wives and families. Thank-you especially to those local landowners who volunteered their lands for auxiliary goal fields and for emergency landing spots.

Our visiting racers continually expressed a lot of gratitude and respect for the significant volunteer effort of the local flying community and our Canadian Sport Flying Associations (West Coast Soaring Club, Hang-gliding and Paragliding Association of Canada) over many years to develop the required infrastructure and establish the regulatory compliance and safety protocols that create the free flying opportunity we enjoy here. With the overwhelmingly positive comp reviews we've been hearing, I expect we'll see significant growth in tourism visits from airsports pilots, friends and families in years to come.

Finally, we sadly acknowledge the tragic loss of competitor John Clifford in a flying accident during a race. He was a true competitor and fellow adventurer and will be missed. We will continue, for John and for all other airmen and women, before and after, who know the joy and cost of our freedom to fly.

Expect another, bigger world-cup style paragliding event in Pemberton in 2014.

Nigel Protter


Dream Wedding

I would like to send a huge " Thank You " to the Fairmont Chateau Whistler. This past weekend our daughter's wedding was held at the hotel and the service was over the top. The hotel staff could not do enough to make sure all of our needs were met. Raised in Whistler, our daughter always wanted to have her wedding in her hometown and the Fairmont came through, fulfilling her dreams. Many thanks to Norm Mastalir, Megan Sanders, Anais Mercier and Ashley Clerk.

Thank you for personally looking after all of us and giving an experience of a lifetime. We felt that you went the extra mile for two local families, (Candice and Cole's).

Kathryn Mooney