The Week — Sept. 13: Clowning around with AIDS

Members of Victoria AIDS Resource and Community Service raise awareness with hugs, Beereaucrats drain festival and more

Michael Yoder and his team give out free hugs to spread the word about an upcoming HIV/AIDS walk.

Michael Yoder and his team give out free hugs to spread the word about an upcoming HIV/AIDS walk.

A  particularly unusual flashmob hit a downtown corner this week, when one group decided it was time to clown around with AIDS awareness.

Members of Victoria AIDS Resource and Community Service Society (VARCS) gathered on the corner of Douglas and Fort on Fri., Sept. 7, to give away free hugs, handshakes and information about the upcoming annual AIDS Walk for Life taking place on Sept. 20. But, instead of just sporting the usual red shirts, the group donned stickers and clown costume fanfare to add a little humour to a very serious topic.

“We’re trying to be more festive, and emphasize the idea of loving life, and the fact that people living with HIV are still vibrant people,” says Michael Yoder, executive assistant at VARCS and prolific hugger. “We are all connected. What better way to show that than through hugs?”

Yoder and the team got the idea from the First Nations tradition of recognizing “Heyoka,” the sacred clown. This clown is considered essential to the smooth functioning of the tribe.

“Heyoka is considered ‘the fool’ and will dance backwards and do all these crazy things, but he also looks at life in a different way, and makes people see themselves in a new light,” says Yoder.

Beereaucrats drain festival

Patrons of this year’s Great Canadian Beer Festival might have choked when they heard organizers announce this could be the last Victorians saw of the popular boozy event, due to stricter liquor control laws.

But don’t put the stein down yet: the festival will do its best to stumble into another season if the crew has anything to say about it.

“I guess the best way to put it is, despite all attempts by the liquor control branch, we will strive to keep the festival going,” says co-founder John Rowling. “If we get to a point where we are knocking heads and it’s becoming impossible, we will be asking the public for help.”

Rowling announced at the opening of the 20th-annual festival on Fri., Sept. 7, that this could be the last of it, unless organizers can find ways to work around newly enforced laws by the B.C. Liquor Control and Licensing Branch (LCLB) — laws that resulted in this year’s loss of bringing in American breweries not already in B.C., an inability for the festival to charge two tokens for higher-alcohol beers, an inability for directors to move leftover “open alcohol” from kegs at the fest to the after party, along with stringent regulations around how much funding the group is allowed to keep as a non-profit.

“What we’re experiencing here are a number of people at the branch who are deciding to enforce the laws rather than interpret them,” says Rowling. “We’re lumped into the same ‘special occasion’ licensing category as weddings, bar mitzvahs and baseball games — we just don’t fit.”

Ideally, Rowling says, he hopes the LCLB will develop a new licensing category specific to alcohol events and festivals. Short of that, he says the festival will be counting on cooperation — or pulling the plug.

Despite the soggy situation, Rowling says this year’s fest was as successful as ever, selling out long before the event and carrying through with no major hitches as usual. “When I was 65, I told Gerry I was going to retire — that was 20 years ago,” he says. “Beer is just too much fun.”

Hey, is that seat taken?

Despite all the local council candidates and politicians stepping forward to announce their intentions NOT to run for the Denise Savoie’s cooling seat as Victoria’s NDP MP, one lesser-spotlit local has stepped up to intentionally claim the spot.

Murray Rankin, a Victoria lawyer, professor and environmental law enthusiast, announced this week that he will seek the NDP federal nomination for Victoria. “Here in Victoria, we have benefited from the remarkable representation provided by Denise Savoie.  We must honour her achievements and the legacy of Jack Layton with new ideas to invigorate the national debate.”

Rankin, who taught environmental law at UVic for more than a decade, becomes the first candidate officially eyeballing the seat.

Meanwhile, across the water, Esquimalt resident Susan Low has become the first candidate to be nominated by the Green Party of BC for the May 2013 provincial election. Low is a community adviser with the Victoria Foundation, owns a consulting group in Victoria, and is an international competitive rower.

Eyes peeled to see who else is brave enough to officially declare they aren’t afraid of local politics. M

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Orca 1
Orcas: Our Shared Future

Royal BC Museum dives into the world of orcas with upcoming feature exhibition

Frank Ludwig in a forklift with his long hair during Trooper’s heyday. (Photo submitted)
Humble Island beginnings blossomed into storied career for Trooper keyboardist

Frank Ludwig got his start as a boy pumping the organ in a tiny downtown Chemainus church

Joan Miller with the Vancouver Island North Regional Film Commission says there’s much room for optimism in the region rebounding from COVID-19 and is excited about what the future holds for the region. Black Press File Photo
North Island film industry optimistic about post-COVID rebound

Interest in filming here is still high, according to film commission, once things open back up

The 10-part Netflix series Maid, which is being exclusively shot in Greater Victoria, has been filming in Langford and Colwood over the past two weeks. On April 7, filming will take place on the east side of the Esquimalt Lagoon. (Black Press Media file)
Netflix series ‘Maid’ filming in Colwood

10-episode Warner Bros. production filmed exclusively in Greater Victoria

Victoria mural artists Joshua Lundrigan (from left) and Paul Archer join Rob Chyzowski, co-owner of Belleville’s Watering Hole and Diner in front of an Archer-designed mural that went up on Thursday at the Inner Harbour restaurant. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Positivity rules with new outdoor mural from Victoria artist

Paul Archer teams with Belleville’s Watering Hole and Diner for patio project

“Racing Classics” by John Horton depicts sailboats near Trial Island off the coast of Oak Bay. The painting will be featured in his <em>Maritime Impressions</em> exhibit at the Winchester Gallery until April 14.
Greater Victoria galleries beckon spring with vibrant, whimsical nature scenes

At The Galleries: look at what’s on display this month

‘We Are All Beautiful’ by Elise Cole and ‘The Modern Thrall’ by Enigye (Happy) Amarkah (from left) are two of the pieces featured in VIU’s Anti-Racism Arts Festival. (Images courtesy the artists)
Vancouver Island University holds first Anti-Racism Arts Festival

Three-day online event to feature visual arts, performance, film and poetry

Thomas Kuecks, Bellamy Kuecks and Paula Foot have come together to create an album of stories for children. (Nina Foot photo)
Moments with Miss Paula creates musical stories for kids

Music and the spoken word from Island pair available on streaming

Author Eden Robinson poses for a portrait during an interview in Toronto, Wednesday, May 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tijana Martin
Trickster trilogy author Eden Robinson hosts online conversation and reading

Haisla and Heiltsuk will join fans in event hosted by Vancouver Island Regional Library

Nanaimo author Lawrence Winkler’s latest book is ‘The Last Casebook of Doctor Sababa.’ (Bulletin file photo/supplied)
Nanaimo author wraps up trilogy following ‘antihero’ Island doctor

Lawrence Winkler presents ‘The Last Casebook of Doctor Sababa’

‘Frank Ney’ by Patrick Flavin, ‘Millstone River Upper Falls’ by John Collison Baker, ‘Labyrinth of Dreams’ by MA Molcan, ‘On the Other Side’ by Liana Ravensbergen, ‘December Snow’ by Laurel Karjala and ‘Jacks Point’ by Dana Smiley (cropped, clockwise from top-left) are among the works in the Nanaimo Arts Council’s latest exhibition. (Photos courtesy Nanaimo Arts Council)
Nanaimo Arts Council presents its first online gallery show

Submissions now open for upcoming ‘Ekphrastic Celebration’ show

Dorothy Sevcov’s exhibition ‘Having Fun With Acrylics’ is on display at Art 10 Gallery until the end of the month. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)
Experimental paintings now on exhibit at Nanaimo’s Art 10 Gallery

Dorothy Sevcov’s ‘Having Fun With Acrylics’ on display through April

Courtenay artist Christine Boyer presents Alongside My Path: Native Wildflowers of Canada at Gallery Merrick from April 9 to 23. (Photo courtesy Christine Boyer)
Island painter shows off the wildflowers of Western Canada in first solo show

Courtenay’s Christine Boyer presents floral exhibit at Nanaimo’s Gallery Merrick

Most Read