Category Archives: Uncategorized

Pender man offers different take on HIV and drug use

August 8, 2017

I think a lot of people frown at the idea of having safe sites staffed with health care workers for people who want to inject heroin and other drugs.

The following story might help them change their minds on this:

Gulf Islands Driftwood — Penders Edition

Wednesday, August 23, 2000

Pender man offers different take on HIV and drug use

by Tanya Lester

Two weeks after his 19th birthday on July 31, 1981, Ernest Standing was diagnosed HIV positive.

Standing, who has lived on North Pender Island since January, had marked his entry into adulthood by injecting himself with heroin for the first time.

In those days, said Standing, discriminating medical system called HIV “gay-related infectious disease.”

The man who passed on the life-threatening condition was dead six weeks later. Before he died, he confessed to sharing needles with 120 people over a two-week period.

Standing said he is the only one of the 100-plus still living. Attending funerals has been part of his everyday life since.

He believes there are three steps to surviving HIV.

The first is to get real, he said. This means getting to the point where telling a lie is physically painful and why he said he will not lie about what he is doing to save himself and others.

He points out that the body is made up of the trinity — the physical, the spiritual and the psychological — and they all need to be in sync.

Secondly, Standing said, the person’s behavior pattern that led to getting HIV has to end. He quit using heroin with the help of marijuana. He also quit being angry with the man who passed HIV on to him. After about a year, he faced up to himself. “You’re a coward,” he said he told himself. “You’re the one who put the needle in your arm just like someone else has (had anal sex) without using protection.”

Personally taking responsibility for his actions has become important to his staying alive and well.

The key, though, is to monitor everything that goes into one’s body and to maintain its purity. Standing said he has created a healing environment for himself, which includes eating organically grown vegetables from his garden. The meat he eats is chemical-free from cattle raised by his uncle in southern Alberta where he grew up.

It also means sitting in his sweat lodge or steam bath for up to four hours each day to remove toxins from his body. This, along with meditation and doing energy work, through which he visualizes every cell fighting the disease, has maintained him.

Another part of his battle with the disease in ingesting a lot of marijuana each day in it purest organically-grown form. (Standing believes hydroponically grown marijuana is carcinogenic.) He believes, as well, that pharmaceutical drugs, including AZT, are toxic soups for HIV patients. He points out that AZT had been used for cancer patients but was banned in the 1980s. Pharmaceutical corporations have now found a new market for it among those with AIDS.

Each day Standing consumes copious amounts of marijuana and drinks a concoction called “bhang” which contains the plant’s basic ingredients. He said he does not feel “stoned” from it but feels balanced health-wise.

He also credits it with helping him beat his heroin addiction a number of years ago.

Some people would say he has traded one addiction for another, but Standing’s response is: “I can quit tomorrow. The only difference is I will be dead.”

In 1996, he did quit taking marijuana because his wife felt he was using his HIV infection as an excuse to smoke marijuana.

When his immune system responded by shutting right down, he said, both his doctor and wife advised him to resume cannabis use.

Being a strong proponent of marijuana use has brought a lot of attention to Standing. He expects to be back in court in December on charges related to operation of the Lamb’s Breath Café in Vancouver, where he sold marijuana for medicinal purposes.

He is also applying for an exemption from being charged with marijuana possession in the future. Recent legislation changes make it possible for an individual to apply to the federal Minister of Health for an exemption that will allow him or her to grow and use marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Standing wants the drug to come under the auspices of agricultural regulations as an herb. He does not want it legalized or decriminalized because he feels this will cost taxpayers a lot of money.

Neither does he advocate its use among children or teenagers because he knows it interferes with the learning process.

Standing said if his six-year-old daughter Britnny sees someone light up a marijuana cigarette, she thinks that individual is sick and will tell them to go to her father’s sweat lodge.

Brittny is the reason Standing granted a rare interview to the Driftwood, although other media had sought him out repeatedly over the Lamb’s Breath Café issue.

Since moving to North Pender, Standing has begun to think that rumours about him could hurt his daughter.

He stresses that Britnny is not responsible for her father contracting HIV because he made the mistake of using heroin as a young man. Standing said he intendes to live to be 120. This may be an exaggeration, but he is serious when he says he wants to go to the Supreme Court to prove the Canadian government could have implemented policies that would have prevented many deaths through AIDS.

Since contracting the disease, Standing said, his spiritual growth has intensified, making him a “religious person” in the truest sense of the word.

“HIV is my foxhole,” he said. “When we’re faced with mortality, we all turn to God.”


To read more posts from this eclectic blog of previously published stories by Tanya, go to and

Tanya works as a psychic ( specializing in tea leaf reading, tarot, mediumship, psychic channeling, gypsy card reading) and is also a reiki master and a housesitter. To find out more go to her web at or her pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google. You can also contact her directly by calling or texting 250-538-0086 or emailing her at 250-538-0086.

Tanya’s books are: Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader, Friends I Never Knew, Dreams and Tricksters as well as Women Rights/Writes.












Unemployed Women Needed: UUW

August 8, 2017

I would like to paraphrase an expression that was popular among the women’s movement in the 1980’s, I think: I’ve come along way, baby.

Actually it was made popular by a cigarette company, I think, who wanted to lure more women into smoking the cancerous weed.

But over the years, I have come a long way when it comes to work. I am absolutely happy to have been self-employed as a psychic, who specializes in tea leaf reading and tarot, for the last 21 years and to housesit fulltime to make ends meet.

I think God/dess was probably always telling me that 9 to 5 or any other eight hour shift is so wrong for a person like me.

It is probably wrong for many.  This might be the silver lining in the new technology age. With fewer 40 hour week jobs available, more and more of us are following our own passions and creating our own businesses.

I even suspected this in the 1980s but felt I had to go with my left leaning loyalty that made me want to express solidarity with workers’ unions and the 8 hour daily grind:


July 1983

Unemployed Women Needed: UUW

by Tanya Lester

To be unemployed today is an extremely serious problem. But to be unemployed and a woman is even worse.

“Women and minorities are even more disillusioned than white men are with unemployment if you want to put it in those black and white terms,” said Susan Spratt, Equal Rights and Opportunities Committee chairperson of the Union of Unemployed Workers (UUW).

Even when women are employed, Spratt explained, they tend to work in non-unionized, low-paying, ghettoized positions with no pension plans, no health care, and no dental plans.

So when women are fired, they often do not have a union to take up a possible grievance. And because they work at lower paying jobs than men (women, on the average, earn 60 percent less than men), unemployment for women automatically means receiving lower unemployment insurance (UIC) benefits, according to Spratt.

An unemployed man, who was making eight dollars per hour, can hold out for a better job while continuing to receive UIC benefits, while women who worked at a lower salary would be required to accept a lower paying job or be cut off from her benefits.

Spratt fears a rebirth of the 1930’s sentiments that “when unemployment is really high then women shouldn’t be working anyway” and ” really all you’re (women) good for is making babies and making bread”.

For these reasons, Spratt welcomes unemployed women to participate in the UUW. Her plans for the Equal Rights and Opportunities Committee include organizing specific workshops resourced by the Women’s Employment Counselling Center, and Women in Trades. “The big thing is a lot of women don’t know how to get jobs,” she said and added the same types of workshops could be set up for Native and other minority group members of the UUW.

Spratt also wants to develop a support system within the UUW. For example, if a woman is turned down when applying for a job, the group might be able to help her to explore the reasons behind the job rejection and determine whether they were justifiable reasons. If not, the UUW could take action on her behalf.

Although Spratt realizes women might not want to join the UUW because a “union to a lot of women represents patriarchy”, she believes involvement in the UUW cab be a positive experience for both the male and female members. “I think it’s good for men to learn about the problems women and minorities face,” she said

As well, Spratt believes the UUW, being a vocal group, can help women speak out and continue to if they enter a unionized job or in other job situations….


To read more posts in this blog of eclectic stories, go to and

Tanya can be contacted to give tea leaf readings, tarot, mediumship, etc. by texting or calling her at 250-538-0086 or emailing:   For more information on what she does as a psychic, reiki master and housesitter go to

Tanya’s books are Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader  and Friends I Never Knew (both available through or from the author) as well as Dreams and Tricksters & Women Rights/Writes. All of these books are available in some library systems.










Delay concerns school trustee

July 22, 2017

Anyone who thinks governing schools is a ‘piece of cake’ needs to think again. Times that by at least 3 (me thinks) when it comes to the Gulf Islands.

If you do not really understand what the following article is about, you are not alone. I wrote it and I do not understand what it is really about:

Gulf Islands Driftwood — Penders Edition

May 3, 2000

Delay concerns school trustee

by Tanya Lester

School trustee Russ Searle has a problem and does not think the Gulf Islands School Board should have to solve it.

Pender Island School teachers voted to postpone the 2000-01 accreditation program. They were among 200 of 270 schools which decided to put accreditation “on hold” as recommended by the BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF).

Searle’s problem with this is three-fold.

The first concern is governance. He points out that the accreditation program — in which teachers, parents and school trustees review a variety of the school’s educational aspects from strengths and deficiencies — is an educational regulation and, in his opinion, must be adhered to.

Searle has an April 4 letter from Charles Ugerleider, the Deputy Minister of Education, to back him up on this.

In the letter addressed to all school superintendents, Ungerleider writes that the “School Act, the School Accreditation Regulation and the Student Learning Assessment Order place a positive duty on school boards and teachers to actively participate in school accreditation and the foundation skills assessment.”

Searle believes the Ministry of Education,, for political reasons, is hesitant to force teachers to participate in the process, and wants school boards to do it for them.

On the other hand, teachers want to exercise more control by using a form of evaluation called STAR, said Searle. It, however, would be a more expensive process.

Secondly, Searle believes that teachers are opposed to the accreditation process because it might highlight teaching deficiencies. This can make teachers feel vulnerable, especially in a small school.

Teachers should be open to such an assessment, said Searle, because “the whole purpose of teaching students is to do the best for the students.”

The Pender trustee adds that it’s a bit of a moot point on Pender since there are “far more excellent that poor teachers” at the school.

Thirdly, he sees local teachers getting caught up in the provincial scene, having made the decision to do “what the union wants.”

On the first point, Pat Beitel, co-president of the Gulf Islands Teachers’ Association (GITA), said Searle “could be quite true” in his premise that the Ministry of Eing ducation is shifting responsibility onto the school boards.

If it is, the Gulf Islands School Board is not committed to shouldering it.

Board chairwoman May McKenzie said the board will first meet with GITA representatives to “begin dialogue” on the accreditation issue.

Concerning the STA process, Beitel said the BCTF took it to the provincial government and it has been rejected at that level.

Beitel said Minister of Education Penny Priddy has now agreed to set up a committee with the BCTF to “come to terms with better accreditation.”

The GITA co-president said teachers are opposed to the present accreditation system because it is cumbersome and often duplicates goals that the administration and teachers set for themselves each year.

Teachers see time spent with the students being eroded in this way.

She disagrees that teachers are afraid to have their deficiencies pinpointed. “You review and reflect on your practices all the time,” she said.

Beitel said teachers want the accreditation process to be more streamlined to individual schools. For example, an inner-city Vancouver school might have different challenges than a rural school does.

On the issue of the BCTF directing teachers as to what to do, Beitel said the idea to review accreditation came from the the membership’s grassroots.

Within the Gulf Islands district, Fernwood Elementary School on Salt Spring also voted to postpone the accreditation process.



An adventure at sea for engineering student

July 20, 2017

It has always been the dream of the young: to run off to sea or , at least, sign up for it.

Read on:

Gulf Islands Driftwood –Penders Edition

Wednesday, May 3, 2000

An adventure at sea for engineering student

by Tanya Lester

Escaping the confines of land and heading out over the boundless ocean is an adventure that has endured centuries.

To young people, sailing over the “big swells” of off-shore water has been a metaphor for the voyage into adulthood.

Early this summer, Ed Callendar will participate in this rite of passage when he joins the ranks of 500 Canadians, aged 15 to 25, selected for the Tall Ship Millennium Challenge.

The eight-day trip will begin June 25 in Baltimore and end at New York City, a part of North America that Callendar, who grew up on South Pender, is eager to explore for the first time. As the crow flies, he said, the two cities seem close together but the deep ocean water route is much longer.

Callendar said the water depth provides “big swells” that are not available around the Gulf Islands where he has gained most of his sailing experience. The ship, at an overall length of 170 feet, will be the largest he has ever helped sail.

The engineering student responded to a newspaper article about the opportunity to enter the race by writing a 250-word essay. In it he outlined his reasons for wanting to participate. These included having sailed all his life (he was first out on a boat at one or two years old), his goal to continue sailing in new places and his intention to teach sailing lessons to young people.

Having taken sailing classes as a child in North Vancouver, Callendar toyed with the idea of becoming a nautical engineer until he discovered there are few job openings in that field.

He is currently studying at the University of Victoria to be an electrical engineer, and the sailing challenge will interrupt his program.

The experience will be worth it for Callendar, with the added bonus of meeting crews from some of the 150 tall ships involved from around the world.

Race winners will be determined by time keeping while each crew is out on the water. At the end of the summer, time totals will be compared to come up with the top positions.

Following the 10-day excursion, the 21-year-old will visit relatives in Nova Scotia and sailing will remain on his personal itinerary. Among those he visits will be his cousin, Andrew Childs, who is among the top-10-ranked laser sailors trying out for the single spot to represent Canada in the next Summer Olympics.

Previously, Callendar took a five-day sailing trip in high school.

He also has a trip to Baja, Mexico under his belt which he undertook with family friends, John and Cody Ross.

Another young man from the Gulf Islands, Orin Brosseau, has already participated in the Tall Ship Millennium Challenge. Brosseau, from Salt Spring, sailed around the English Channel and the North Sea for a couple of weeks beginning on March 31.

Like Brosseau, Callendar needs to raise $2,500 to pay for expenses, including transportation, shore-based activities, support services and a uniform. He has only $200 so far. Writing university examinations temporarily interrupted his fundraising…


To read more posts in this blog of an eclectic range of stories and other writing, go to and

Tanya’s books are Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader and Friends I Never Knew (both available for purchase on amazon or from the author) as well as Dreams and Tricksters, and Women Rights/Writes. All of these books are available in some public libraries.

Tanya works as a psychic, specializing in tea leaf readings and tarot, and also is a reiki master and instills this energy into her readings. She also does house sitting fulltime. For more on her interesting and eclectic career, go to her web site at and to her pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google.



Easy listening at library’s Speakeasy V

July 18, 2017

If you have never gone to an author’s reading at a public library or into another venue, then, isn’t it time?

Maybe the following article will inspire you to go to one or –if you have gone to one or several already– encourage you to go back for more:

Gulf Islands Driftwood — Penders Edition

Wednesday, May 3, 2000

Easy listening at library’s Speakeasy V

by Tanya Lester

It is always so inspiring to see how a few candles, a nice backdrop, a congenial host and free-flowing creativity can transform the most utilitarian of places into a venue where spirits soar.

Such was the atmosphere at Speakeasy V held last Saturday in the Pender Library’s multi-purpose room with about 35 people in attendance.

The evening began surprisingly with well-known children’s author Andrea Spalding reading first.

Having attended at least 100 poetry/author readings over the years and often being among the readers, this confused me because the literati, to my knowledge, has still not transcended beyond the pecking order syndrome which dictates that “the best shall read last.”

Not until I had heard the second reader did I catch on. They were all so terrific that ordering waons not needed.

Spalding’s piece was a “first airing” of a story inspired by one of Victor Reece’s mask-making workshops. Named Soloman’s Tree, it is piece as finely crafted as a master carver’s work.

The plot kept “bubbling up,” Spalding said, until she had to interrupt work on a novel to get it down on paper. In the story, a boy is close friends with a tree and talks with it on a daily basis. A storm fells the tree yet its spirit rises in the form of a mask.

In the end, a new tree buds, making Spalding’s final sentence — “A new cycle is beginning”– redundant.

The amazing nine-year-old Naomi van Ginkel Wilde was up next. She has got to be one of the Indigo children my New Age friends are raving about. Her poems concerning nature are truly with lines like “the wind getting the world ready for spring.”

“It’s a really proud thing when your daughter is that hard of an act to follow,” said Lily van Ginkel Wilde when it was her turn in front of the audience.

Van Ginkel Wilde quickly proved she is her daughter’s mother with a suite of powerful, imagery-packed poems about visitors.

he nade a small brown bird “beat drums and dance about” and a human pregnancy turn into a “winking ruby light” in which “I wait, breath held, for the hatching.”

Baba Yaga and her marvelous bones also made a guest appearance among van Ginkel Wilde’s intricately woven poems.

Leslie McBain, despite enduring a week of overexposure in the Penders Edition, is another poet who presented clearly woven lines last Saturday. Her narrative poems took the listeners to Greece, to Mount Tuam and even to the moon.

In Cycle Sanity, McBain told the tale of “frantic woman/delirious with moon flood” while experiencing PMS.

Her piece about The Linen Waltz, referring to women working to put the laundry away, provided a nicely selected ending to her set when she read about “who gives her side to the other” in “the final fold.”

Amy McCaughran was a teen representative in the line-up. She and her friends added a zany feel to the evening lest we should start to take ourselves just a little bit too seriously.

They contributed things like the “booga, booga, tut, tut” song complete with hand movements. My guess is these pieces were picked up at summer campfire circles.

Interspersed with the poets were musicians Patrick White and Allen Neil, who rounded out the evening with some fine Canadian folk songs. Could any self-respecting Speakeasy be without at least a couple of acoustic guitar players?

Thrown in for good measure were some participants from the audience.

Pamela Brooks did a great job as host and organizer.

If you were one of the unfortunate who missed the evening, you do have at leas one other opportunity to enjoy these writers’ work.

They will be among those featured in the Poetry on Pender Anthology 2000 to be released in July….


Tanya Lester works passionately as a psychic doing tea leaf readings, tarot, mediumship, psychic channeling and gypsy readings. She is also a reiki master and a fulltime housesitter. For more information go to her web: and/or her pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google. Her email is and to text/call 250-538-0086

Tanya’s books are Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader, Friends I Never Knew (both can be ordered from and/or purchased from the author) as well as Dreams and Tricksters and Women Rights/Writes.

To read more posts on this blog of articles and other writing on a wide range of topics, go to and








A F.Y.S.T. full of feminism

July 16, 2017

I seem to recall that when the idea to start a young feminist group came up among Manitoba Action Committee on the Status of Women members in the mid-1980s, this group for young women was lauded as an alternative to the Girl Guides in which baking and sewing and things of a domestic bent earn badges.

I do not see my byline on it but I believe I wrote it. (I have to admit that I have had so many articles published that I did not remember doing quite a few of them but my name in the byline proved I had.)

The following article delves into other important (maybe more important) reasons for young women to bond:


August 1985

A F.Y.S.T. full of feminism

Young feminists realize that pressure to conform in a sexist society often begins in school. Because they often  feel isolated in school and in their personal lives, two feminist support groups have emerged in the province — GAP (Girls are People) in Brandon and FYST (Feminist Youth Studying Together) in Winnipeg — to provide support for young women’s rights advocates.

“At school, you get the academic education and the sexist education,” said Rain(bow) Springer, a GAP member.

Rain recalls taking a classroom spelling test.

“Bunnies,” the teacher announced the word for his students to spell. “Playboy bunnies are fun to look at.”

The next word was “diving”. Rain said her chance. “You’re diving into a controversial issue,” she warned her teacher. He caught on, went back to “bunnies” and said, “Bunnies have pink eyes.”

Cindy Brazer, a member of Feminist Youth Studying Together (FYST) in Winnipeg,  ran into teacher opposition when she decided to take shops. “Why don’t you take cooking? It’s what you should be doing,” she was told.

Cindy knew better. She failed cooking and sewing but ended up with top marks in her metals class. But her woman guidance counsellor still suggests that Cindy’s only career alternatives should be in nursing  and secretarial areas.

These young women often have to tackle the sexist education system alone. Both GAP and FYSTT group members say there is seldom a teacher or even another student to whom they can turn for help. All of them agree that the support they get in the young women’s groups help hem feel stronger when fighting discrimination back in the schools.

Both young women’s groups are study groups of the Manitoba Action Committee on the Status of Women (MACSW). The GAP members, between the ages of nine and 12, were organized by Brandon staff member Bev Peters. Daphne Nordal brought the Winnipeg group, aged 14 to 19, together a year and a half ago.


To read other posts in this blog of articles and other pieces of writing on a broad number of topics, go to or to

Tanya’s books are Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader, Friends I Never Knew, Dreams and Tricksters, and Women Rights/Writes.Tanya is a psychic, whose specialties include tea leaf reading, tarot, psychic channeling, mediumship and gypsy card reading. To book an appointment for a reading or for more information on her readings as well as her housesitting, go to her pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Google or to her website at  She can also be reached by text/phone at 250-538-0086 or by email at