new westminster

Social Justice and Strip Clubs: Are They Really Mutually Exclusive?

3965386394_11438bb510by Jasmine Peterson

A class of Social Justice 12 students at Charles Best Secondary in Coquitlam have, as a final project for their class, taken it upon themselves to confront a social issue in their area – they are petitioning for the closure of the Paramount strip club in New Westminster. I think it’s admirable that these students are engaged and moved to action, but I think that these students have not been given a fully nuanced picture of the issue.

I really must emphasize my appreciation that youth are actively seeking to make changes in their communities. Engagement with social and political issues in adolescents is a wonderful thing. I appreciate that their teacher has inspired them to think critically about social issues and is providing them with the skills and knowledge to actively address the things in the world around them that they are passionate about.

However, while I think they are coming from a genuinely concerned place, these students’ efforts seem to me to be somewhat misguided. One of the students, Ryan Leppert, stated:

“Men can go in there and treat women as objects and it isn’t fair to them. We don’t believe it is [their choice], we believe it is a desperate attempt to get money or a lot of them have been forced into it.”

And this is true. For some women, many women even, economic position forces them into vocations they might not otherwise choose. But at the same time there are many women who choose to dance or strip with a level of agency. Any vocation can be something that a person is forced into out of economic desperation (I know I don’t continue working at a call centre for my love of being yelled at, called names, and hung up on), so the conversation is much more nuanced than whether or not women are dancing for the financial benefit. Read more

Posted on by Jasmine Peterson in Can-Con, Feminism 5 Comments

Re-Branding New West

Going through my blog posts for the past year I found a piece I wrote defending Burnaby against the Vancouverite ‘burb-haters and I thought it was about time I wrote about my new home of New Westminster.

New Westminster (not New Westmin-i-ster!) was founded in 1858, named personally by Queen Victoria, hence the nickname: “The Royal City”. However, recently there’s been some suggestion that New West needs to update its image and find a new moniker. The Royal City Record suggested “The Fun City” because in the summer you can’t walk 2 blocks without running into some sort of festival. I think “The Fun City” sounds terrible, nor am I a fan of the monarchy, so I took it upon myself to come up with some alternate suggestions:



The Mayor of New West Firing an Anvil

New Westminster: We Like to Bang


Get your mind out of the gutter: I’m talking about cannons! New Westminsterites love their cannons. There is no such thing as an event in New West that does not involve cannons, preferably fired by someone in a pith helmet. The opening of the yearly Farmer’s Market starts with a cannon. Cannons travel down 6th Street each year for the Hyack parade. The Remembrance Day ceremonies made me feel like I had lived through a World War.

Just in case anyone thinks cannons are too quiet, once a year there’s the Anvil Battery Salute. Here’s the description from the Royal City Record: “The actual firing of the anvil involves placing a 68 kilogram anvil on top of a 159 kilogram anvil, with only 56 grams of black gunpowder between them.” They do this 21 times to simulate a 21-gun salute. Some stores run out of sunscreen in the summer; New West stores run out of earplugs. In 2010 only 3 schoolchildren almost got hit by flying shrapnel. This is considered a success.

The People’s Republic of New Westminster

This is the unofficial nickname for Burnaby, but I’m thinking New Westminster could challenge them for the title. After all, only 2/4 of Burnaby’s MLAs are NDP, compared to 1/1 for New West, plus both New Westminster’s MPs, and most of the City Councillors are progressive.

New Westminster was also the first municipality in Canada to pass a living wage policy, which has been endorsed by…the Ferengi. That’s right. I’ve worked in politics for a while and it never occurred to me to seek out policy validators from the realm of science fiction. But luckily for New West, her municipal politicians are looking at the stars.



The NW Hyacks Mascot

New Westminster: Our Absurdly-Named Sports Teams will Kick Your Ass


New Westminster proves that sports teams don’t have to have names that make sense in order to excel. For one, there’s the Hyacks football team. For some reason, New Westminster really latched onto the Chinook word Hyack, which means “quickly” or “hurry, hurry”. In addition to the football club, there’s the Hyack Swim Club, and the Hyack Festival and Parade, neither of which has much Aboriginal about it other than the name. At any rate, at least it left the field wide open when they were choosing a mascot, which explains why they chose…a fireman? Go figure. At least it doesn’t seem to have hurt their showing!

Then there’s the lacrosse club, the New Westminster Salmonbellies, or ‘Bellies for short. What I want to know is why emphasize the salmon belly? Why not just the New Westminster Salmon? The New West Sockeye? Despite their slippery moniker, the ‘Bellies have led New West to 24 national Mann Cup championships  since 1901.

New Westminster: Once the Capital of BC

Many New Westminster residents are bitter about the fact that Victoria is now the capital of BC, and understandably so! I mean, New West has lots of things that Victoria doesn’t have, like a really big hill and the world’s biggest tin soldier and… lots of cannons. If we ever engage in a 18th-century land battle with Victoria, we’d crush them like bugs.

The Un-Surrey

Now I actually quite like Surrey, but it has a bad reputation and New West could feasibly run with that. The drawback of this comparison is it just reinforces how difficult it is to make jokes about New Westminster. Consider the following jokes Surrey jokes fit to a New West context:

Q: What does a New Westminster girl do in the morning?

A: Participate in one of the many fine festivals in her neighbourhood.

Q:  What did the New Westminster resident name his pet zebra?

A: Hyack.

Q: Why do New Westminster girls wear so much hair spray?

A: To protect their coifs from the flying pieces of anvil.

Clearly, they don’t have quite the same ring to them as the originals, although I’m told they go over like gangbusters at a Sapperton garden party.

So I think we’ve got a few good options here. Always happy to be of service.


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Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Can-Con 5 Comments