Shaena Lambert

June 20, 2018

Why I engaged in civil disobedience at Kinder Morgan

On May 4th I was arrested for blockading the gates of the Kinder Morgan oil facility, along with several other protestors, including the poet Lozan Yomalsky and the inimitable Chipewayan activist Kat Roivos. On June 5th I was sentenced to pay a $1,500 fine. The following is a statement I made to the court at the time of my sentencing. To date over 200 people from all walks of life have been arrested as part of the ongoing anti-pipeline blockade.

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I engaged in peaceful civil disobedience at the gates of the Kinder Morgan oil facility because I believe that confronting the harm of fossil fuels is the most important question of our generation.

I often wake in fear about what is happening to our planet, and I want to be able to tell my children and grandchildren (if I’m blessed to have them ) that I did everything I could to protect them from the ravaging effects of climate change.

I grew up near Horseshoe Bay, where I swam in the salt water bays of the Salish Sea all summer long. This childhood was a gift. I grew up inside this coast – its rain, salmon, whales, barnacles, starfish –and its dark and mysterious forests. My parents taught me to feel a sense of reverence entering an old growth forest, or motoring at dusk across Howe Sound in my father’s wooden boat. Day by day they were teaching me to appreciate the beauty that surrounded me.

As a child I didn’t know I was swimming in waters that had belonged for 30,000 years to the Coast Salish people. But I know this now, and this deepens my sense of reverence, and my obligation to listen to their voices.  I feel I have a sacred duty to protect what gives me joy, and which fosters my soul so deeply, and which is, ultimately, a land I have lived on only recently, compared to the Tsleil Waututh, Musqueam and Squamish.

As a writer, my inspiration comes from the well-spring that is our coast, and I cannot turn from it when it is endangered.

I have a deep respect for the law and for Canada’s legal system, and I am a law-abiding citizen and I fully accept the consequences of my actions and the sentencing. However, in this matter I have felt –as have so many others with whom I’m proud to stand today — that I must answer to a higher moral law. It comes from the tides and the rain, from deep within this place I call home. It comes from within my heart.  And it tells me to act for future generations, for the animals and wild things I love. To act for life itself.

May 13, 2018

Companions at the Gate

Here is a letter I wrote to fellow writers and friends in my community after my arrest on Burnaby Mountain last Saturday. Also click here for a news article in the National Observer.

 

Dear writing friends,

Since I last wrote to you – about craft, or workshops or, most lately, what has been happening on Burnaby Mountain in the fight against Kinder Morgan – I have been arrested!

(I ended that last sentence with an exclamation mark, but it probably deserves a period. Because my emotions since have been intense and serious. Nothing bright and exclamation-markish about them.)

On last Saturday I went once again to Burnaby Mountain in support of the ongoing protests against the pipeline expansion. As you probably know, over 200 people have been arrested up on the mountain, blocking the pipeline that would import toxic bitumen, which would then be loaded onto tankers. One spill could kill off the marine life of Burrard Inlet and the George Strait.

It was moving to arrive there once again, and to see the faces of a number of the people I’d interviewed on previous Saturdays. Women and men from all walks of life who had zap-tagged themselves to the gated entrance of the oil tank farm, to stop trucks from entering. I saw, for instance, Tracey Carlisle, a feisty film costume designer, and her mother, the Montessori school teacher, Jeanette Paisley.

To the drumbeat of Watch House Guardian Will George’s Wolf Song, the group marched from the soccer field, past the Coast Salish Watch House. The Watch House is an iconic and powerful presence on the Mountain. It was originally a vision of the late Leonard George, the famous Tsleil Waututh former chief, and son of Chief Dan George – a vision to return to watch houses on this coast, to protect his people from enemies. This red cedar Watch House now stands at the East Gates of the Kinder Morgan tank farm, in a grove of alder trees.

Burnaby Mountain has been so beautiful this spring. I have walked the trail from Watch House to Kinder Morgan gate so many times, often with a wonderful ornithologist, George Clulow who is concerned about what the tank facility expansion would do to migratory song birds. Burnaby Mtn is, among so many other things, a bird sanctuary. He has pointed out where the hummingbirds are coming to the blossoms of salmon berry, how the first blooms of Indian plum are an important signal of incoming migrations. And how the birds themselves come by night, following the magnetic fields and the stars.

Now I walked the path – once again — with a group of committed people, determined to blockade the gate.

Chained to the fence, mid-afternoon, I discovered that I was beside another writer. A fascinating Iraqi born poet and memoirist, Lozan Yamolky, whose family escaped Suddam Hussein in 1991. We chatted, our arms close to each other, zap-tagged to the chain links of the fence. She told me about her Kurdish family who fled across Iraq’s northern mountains toward Iran, sleeping for several months in an RV that held 35 people, one of whom was her wounded brother, laid out on the table top, groaning. Another was her demented grandmother who, Lozan told me, would not stop screaming. “If I can withstand that,” she told me, “I can certainly fight Kinder Morgan.”

On my other side sat Kat Roivos, a tall and striking Chippewayan woman in a leather jacket, clutching a crutch. She has been so stalwart in the anti-Kinder Morgan fight. She has been arrested three times, and I was worried for her now facing jail time, but she just kept winking at me. “I know what I’m doing,” she said. “Don’t worry about me. I’m in this for future generations.”

The four police officers who arrested us were a model of civility. They read us the injunction, then returned to tell us that if we remained at the gate we would be under arrest. They then arrested us and led us to a facility for processing, taking our photos and arranging for a day in court.

When it was all over, I was shocked and tired. I drove home and had a bath. Then I slept a long time.

It felt surprisingly hard for me, a law-abiding citizen, to break the law. It was not an easy step. It will have consequences. I woke in the night and felt afraid, running over in my head my list of worries. Was it worth it? What was I thinking? My friend Gillian Johnstone helped. She was arrested mid-March, with her husband and daughter, and her kind and wise words started to help me calm down.

But it was only this morning – six days later – that I felt something begin to rise in me. You know that slight reclamation of self that happens when you put your hands on the keyboard? That began to happen, slyly, on its own. And with it, for the first time since the arrest, came a sense of happiness. Something joyful that began to mix with the bird call outside my window.

Life is so short and the planetary crisis we face is so severe. I felt my writing hand telling me this, and telling me how glad it was that I had taken this action.

So, I thought I would share my journey with you. And send you love. Let’s keep writing to Trudeau. Let’s keep going to the mountain. Let’s keep taking the action we each, personally, feel called to take. As Kat said, ‘we’re in it for the future generations.’

With love to you all,

 

Shaena

May 13, 2018

Got Consent? What part of ‘no’ does Kinder Morgan not understand?

Here is a piece inspired by two intrepid Greenpeace women who climbed on top of a gigantic tunnel boring drill. My daughter Lucy and I drove out to cheer them on, and then felt shocked by the visuals — two women on top of a giant (undeniably phallic-looking) drill, shouting about lack of consent, so similar to the issues of #metoo.  This piece is about the similarities between the #metoo movement — and all that has come to light about lack of consent — and the fight against big oil on our coast. Lucy and I wrote it together and published it in The National Observer.

 

May 1, 2018

The Warrior Song of Ta’ah Amy George

Here is an story I wrote for the National Observer about the remarkable grandmother and residential school survivor, Ta’ah Amy George, who — more than Justin Trudeau, Rachel Notley, or John Horgan– could be the true eye of the storm of the Kinder Morgan pipeline firestorm. A remarkable woman. I felt honoured to have this indepth conversation with her, April 13th at her home in Tsleil Waututh, on Burrard Inlet, across from the Kinder Morgan Westridge Marine Terminal.

https://www.nationalobserver.com/2018/04/28/opinion/warrior-song-taah-amy-george

March 30, 2018

The Warrior and The Watch House

News from the fight against the Kinder Morgan oil pipeline on Burnaby Mountain. I talked in depth to members of the Tsleil Waututh Nation about the iconic and moving Watch House built 50 yards from Kinder Morgan’s east gate.

From The National Observer.

 

January 5, 2018

Leap into 2018 with a Fiction and Memoir Bootcamp

If you are looking to make deep progress on your novel, short stories, or memoir in 2018, come join a group of motivated writers over two Saturdays — Jan 27 and Feb 3 — in Vancouver for a Fiction and Memoir Bootcamp.

All info below. It is being put on by The Writers’ Studio at Simon Fraser, and will involve 10 to 20 writers, all throwing themselves into new work, or making deep progress on present manuscripts. The workshops examines all phases of manuscript creating, from dream stage through intensive first drafting to deep revision and polishing — so the course will meet you at whatever stage you are. It is a wonderful way to jump into 2018 and kickstart your writing. The sessions are a creative mix of free writing, structuring, learning (re) learning the art of revision, exploring together and separately.

For more info, see below.

https://www.sfu.ca/continuing-studies/courses/cpw/special-topics.html

October 6, 2017

Lighting Out — at the Vancouver Writers Festival

I’ll be moderating a really lively discussion on Wednesday, October 18 at the Vancouver Writers Fest. with Cecil Castellucci who has written a fabulous graphic novel of teenage flight, into the world of boxcars, danger and love in the hobo jungles in the 1930s. To survive, the main character turns herself from looking like a girl, into passing for a boy, as often did happen with girls in the mainly undocumented adventures of the past.  Joining Cecil is Allan Stratton, a multi-award winning author, whose books have a wide teenage following.  Allan has tackled hugely difficult issues in the past, and comes ready to engage young adults about his engaging book  The Way Back Home, where the main character, Zoe, breaks free and hits the road with her aging Grandmother.

These are stories of adventure — with anguish and heart. Come join us!

 

September 15, 2017

Getting to Open, September 23, 2017

Every writer wants to “hit the open zone” where writing is a deep and pleasurable part of the day, where creation comes smoothly and on a consistent basis, where we become lost inside the story, and where what we write feels rich and authentic. This three-hour course, open to writers of all genres and all levels, explores the habits, tools and attitudes that can take us to open–both on the page and in our lives as writers. Some of what you will learn includes:

  • How to develop techniques for getting yourself to the desk/coffee shop on a daily basis. How to push through blocks that make us minimize writing, or don’t allow us the time for creativity
  • How to successfully launch each writing session by developing your unique habits and rituals
  • How long to write for, what feels right for different projects, and when to stop
  • How to open yourself to your own muse through a variety of techniques including free flow, journaling, writing longhand, “doodling and drifting,” and timed writing sessions.
  • Explore methods for excavating your most important ideas, memories and stories
  • How to create a “working garden” of different projects so you can “go where the heat is” at each writing session
  • Develop techniques to blast through writer’s block, to silence the inner critic, and to face down “imposter syndrome”
  • Find ways to nurture your self-identity as a flourishing writer within your community

The course includes individual exercises, group discussion, activities and lectures. Please bring a notebook or paper, and a pen.

Date(s): Sat, September 23, 2017, 10am – 1pm

Location: Room 1500, SFU Vancouver (Harbour Centre)

Cost: $30  Register

Questions?

Email: learn@sfu.ca

Phone: 778-782-8000 (or toll-free 1-844-782-8877)

May 29, 2017

Here it is…. Best Canadian Stories 16.

I’m so delighted to be in this volume — which is the last to be published by Oberon Press, and selected by editing luminary John Metcalf. (After this year, Oberon is passing the Best Canadian Stories flame to Biblioasis publisher, Dan Wells. )  Thrilled that my short story, The Wolf Expert, originally published in Canadian Notes & Queries, has been published in these pages with Canadian writers I so admire: Elise Levine, Douglas Glover, Kathy Page, Pauline Holdstock and many talented others.

May 1, 2017

Writing What you Don’t Know: Reading and Discussion at Historic Joy Kogawa House

Come join us at Historic Joy Kogawa House for a reading of RADIANCE by author SHAENA LAMBERT and a discussion about writing across boundaries and into the imaginary lives of others.

Presented and facilitated by Carmen Rodriguez, Writer-in-Residence, Historic Joy Kogawa House.

Mon. May 8, 7 – 9 p.m.

1450 West 64th. Ave., Vancouver

Free

RADIANCE:

Keiko, a survivor of the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima and left her with disfiguring radiation scars, is chosen from hundreds of young women to receive plastic surgery in the United States. Radiance does not only tell Keiko’s story, but also Daisy’s, her “house mother,” while exposing the tensions and contradictions that riddled the U.S. during the 1950’s.

 

March 20, 2017

North Shore Writers Festival — The Best Kind of People with Zoe Whittall and Shaena Lambert 3:45-5:00pm | City Hall Atrium

The North Shore Writers Festival is coming up, April 7th and 8th — with some really wonderful programming and discussions. On Saturday, April 8 I will have the great pleasure of interviewing Zoe Whittall onstage about her acclaimed, Giller shortlisted novel, The Best Kind of People.  Here is what the program says…

  • Join Scotiabank Giller Prize finalist Zoe Whittall in conversation with Canadian novelist Shaena Lambert. Whittall will discuss not only the writing experience behind her highly acclaimed novel The Best Kind of People, but also the compelling themes and characters that are embedded within her story.What if someone you trusted was accused of the unthinkable?George Woodbury, an affable teacher and beloved husband and father, is arrested for sexual impropriety at a prestigious prep school. His wife, Joan, vaults between denial and rage as the community she loved turns on her. Their daughter, Sadie, a popular over-achieving high school senior, becomes a social pariah. Their son, Andrew, assists in his father’s defense, while wrestling with his own unhappy memories of his teen years. A local author tries to exploit their story, while an unlikely men’s rights activist attempts to get Sadie onside their cause. With George locked up, how do the members of his family pick up the pieces and keep living their lives? How do they defend someone they love while wrestling with the possibility of his guilt?With exquisite emotional precision, award-winning author Zoe Whittall explores issues of loyalty, truth, and the meaning of happiness through the lens of an all-American family on the brink of collapse.

March 20, 2017

Creative Neighbours Salon, Sunday March 26

On Sunday I’m looking forward to presenting some thoughts on short story writing at a westside creative artists salon. If you are an artist, writer, neighbour, or just interested, I hope you’ll join us.

The Salon is a Kitsilano  & West Point Grey monthly get together to explore, see, hear, and discuss art and its process.  The Salons were started by Mary Bennett, a visual artist and they are held in David Eby’s offices on West Broadway, who has kindly donated his space for neighbourhood projects.

Beth Coleman, a playwright whom I’ve had the pleasure of mentoring, invited me to be part of it. She wrote to say, “In the past season I enjoyed learning about automatons as art, experiencing oral story telling myths, exploring labyrinths as spiritual and art forms,  studying abstract paintings of nature.”

So here is what I’ll be presenting on this Sunday….

Dreaming and Writing Short Stories — The Art of Getting Lost

“When I write short stories, it feels as though it is a craft, yes, but also a mystery. Part of that mystery requires following some of the quirky rules of a fairy tale journey. You need to go deep into the unknown. You may need to call on magical helpers to assist you. And somewhere along the way you almost always end up totally lost. All the breadcrumbs are eaten, and often it is out of this – this true confusion as to direction – that the meaning of a piece emerges to ignite the imagination and show the way home. We will explore this creative arc, do some writing exercises to get in touch with people’s unique voices (bring a pen and paper) and I’ll talk about and read from a recent short story.”

Date: Sunday, March 26, 2017

Place: David Eby’s Community Office, 2909 West Broadway (at Bayswater)

Time: 6-7 pm Potluck food; 7-8 pm Presenter; 8-9 pm Socialize and network

Bring: Dessert or finger food for sharing. There will be a networking table for flyers and cards about upcoming performances and exhibitions.

Questions? Contact Mary@marybennett.net

February 14, 2017

Hollyhock Writing Workshop — Going under the Words

Dear writing friends,

Would you like to make deep progress on your writing in a hugely beautiful and creative location?

I’m teaching Going Under the Words – Creating Fiction and Memoir — a five-day writing workshop at the Hollyhock Retreat Centre, on Cortes Island – June 2-7.

I hope you’ll consider joining me and other writers there.

It’s hard not to effuse madly about Hollyhock. I’m thrilled to be teaching there. It’s one of the most enchanting environments I know. The forest surrounds you. The beach is close. The surf is sounding in your sleep. The garden is a perfect place to write, under the apple tree, beside the head-high delphiniums. (I wrote my story, Oh, My Darling at that wooden table.) But there are hundreds of quiet nooks to steal away and write (including by a fire in the lodge if it’s raining).

Whether you are beginning a new project, or diving into finding your voice for the first time, or are deep into the revision or editing stage of a long-developed work-in-progress, this workshop is designed to find you where you are, and to give you guidance and tools for the journey.

It will be an intense mix of exploratory writing – to free your voice and hit a ‘creative flow’ – and daily group lectures and experiments on key aspects of creating a narrative (from dream stage, to structuring your work, to writing with intensity, to revising, editing and publishing). Your writing will be workshopped in a supportive group setting, and some time will be set aside to discuss your writing one-on-one with me.  We will also spend time exploring the writing business, and how to build – and sustain – a writer’s life.

You can follow the link, below to find more information and/or to register. There is also info about scholarships. And information about how to get to Cortes Island – you can go by ferry, or take a watertaxi from Campbell River, or even take a floatplane.

Many good wishes to you all. I hope I get to see you there in June,

 

Shaena

 

https://hollyhock.ca/programinfo/lambert

Hollyhock at: 1-800-933-6339 x 232.

www.shaenalambert.com

December 15, 2016

Bootcamp/2017 – Get your book into shape fast

I am teaching a novel and memoir writing bootcamp in late January, through SFU’s Writers’ Studio. Whether you are deep into a manuscript, or just starting out, the bootcamp can provide the energy and inspiration to make real tracks with a book.

It takes place on two Saturdays, Jan 28 and Feb 4th. It’s a chance to learn new techniques, work fast, experiment and play with your work, going much deeper and surprising yourself —  before the inner critic holds out a hand and says, no!

There will be a mix of supported writing time, seminars and experiments to uncover the unique threads of action, plot and character that can lead you naturally to the end of your piece.

The details are attached in this Simon Fraser University link.

http://www.sfu.ca/continuing-studies/courses/cpw/special-topics.html

 

December 15, 2016

The Wolf Expert in Fall CNQ

I’m thrilled to have my short story The Wolf Expert published in this fall’s Canadian Notes & Queries, and to be anthologized in 2016’s Best Canadian Stories, from Oberon Press. This season’s CNQ is a really interesting one, with pieces by Anakana Schofield, Brian Busby, and Patricia Robertson. This is CNQ’s first colour edition, under the new editorship of Emily Donaldson. My story is beautifully illustrated by a photograph by Nancy Friedland. Such a wonderful magazine. I’m glad my story found a  home in it.

Buy Books

To buy Shaena's books, visit one of the online retailers below:

Amazon (Canada)
Oh, My Darling
Radiance
The Falling Woman

Amazon (USA)
Radiance

Amazon (UK)
Radiance

Amazon (Germany)
Die fallende Frau

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