Issue 222: July 2004


 A personal note

At the end of June, Brewster and I had a family reunion here at Left Fields (the 10-acre small-holding which we share with our daughter Rebecca and her husband Brian) to celebrate our 40 th wedding anniversary. We had been looking for an opportunity to gather family and friends from across the continent, to renew relationships and to get cousins together who had never met. It was also an excuse for a great party, feasting on a whole roasted lamb, fresh garden vegetables and salads, and Crannóg Ales (Brian and Rebecca's Certified Organic brewery) along with the champagne.

Brewster and I have never taken our anniversaries terribly seriously, in fact, we generally forget the date (it was May 20) until a week later. Using it as the reason for a celebration required me to give some thought to our relationship and why it is worth celebrating. After all, I don't think we have managed to stay together for forty years simply because of a lack of imagination!

We started out in the peace movement – that's how we met. Along with the student peace movement of the time, we soon realized that “there is no peace without justice” and, among other initiatives, helped create the Latin American Working Group to support the struggles underway in Central and South America. At the same time we were studying the situation at home, and our analysis of the internal colonization in Canada led us to the Maritimes where we spent 15 years farming and raising our two children.

Even though we ran a commercial sheep (and for ten years, cattle) farm, we never stopped organizing. My women's consciousness-raising group transformed into a Women's Centre and started a rape crisis line and a transition house for battered women. We both worked with the Sheep Producers Association of Nova Scotia, developed an annual Sheep Fair to raise the self-esteem, skills, and sense of community among sheep farmers, and eventually Brewster spearheaded a lamb marketing cooperative (Northumberlamb) which is still operating successfully.

It was the process of working with lamb marketing and realizing the forces arrayed against any effort of farmers to organize themselves and work together for high quality and fair prices, that led to the creation of The Ram's Horn. It has changed over the years, but its focus is still on exposing those forces as they have changed names and strategies. We still monitor corporate consolidation and other shenanigans but we now find ourselves increasingly also addressing the issues raised by genetic engineering of seeds and medicines.

The farmhouse in Nova Scotia had a large world map on the wall of the kitchen, reflecting our belief that we are part of a global community of resistance and struggle. Over the years that community has taken more solid form, as we have been invited to travel and meet some amazing organizers, some of whose work is reflected, from time to time, in The Ram's Horn.

It may be that this is the key to the fact that, unlike so many marriages of the 1960s, ours has survived these 40 years. We also have a lot of fun, not only working together but watching each other grow. For example, feminism – and the transformation in women's understanding of themselves, their capacities, and their power – was a fatal challenge to many relationships undertaken in a different paradigm. Brewster was always supportive, but it was not until he began to read the feminist critics of science, that he really understood what I was on about. Nowadays I am getting a great kick out of the process of Brewster becoming an elder, mentoring young people and at least to some extent gaining public recognition for his work. I am also very aware of his unwavering support for my work in food security.

I think we are extraordinarily privileged, not just because we live in a wealthy country and partake, willy-nilly, of the advantages that bestows. We have had the opportunity to spend our lives working for what we believe. And we have our friends and comrades all over the world – including our son Jamie and Rebecca – who support and inspire us, who broaden our vision and strengthen our commitment, to our work and, in a way, to each other.

We are profoundly thankful for all of this. – C.K.

For more about Crannóg Ales, Canada's only Certified Organic on-farm microbrewery and their wonderful Irish-style ales,

To learn something of the inspiring work Jamie is involved in (along with his peace and social justice work) see MiningWatch Canada works with local and First Nations communities to monitor the activities of mining companies in Canada and Canadian companies overseas, and to help them protect themselves and their environment from the effects of these activities.


#221: July 2004 TOC
A Personal Note: Brewster and Cathleen celebrate 40 years of marriage and
common work
Picking on Cargill: updates on the activities of "the world's most
sophisticated corporate player in the global industrial food system"
ADM Settles Out of Court: the ingredients giant prefers to avoid a court case
More Food: OECD reports that production of food will soon exceed consumption
A Lamb Marketing "Commons": a different approach to a co-operative
Food Aid: the US approach is geared at market development, especially for GMOs
Health Effects of GM: Scandinavian researchers reveal that there has not
been adequate scientific study
Runaway Shop: Major US food processors head south
Banana Workers Strike: labour strife in Colombia