Wednesday, April 13, 2016



Gallery Gachet on East Cordova Street gives the opportunity for artists — who wouldn't usually have the opportunity — to see their art displayed.
Gallery Gachet on East Cordova Street gives the opportunity for artists — who wouldn't usually have the opportunity — to see their art displayed. (Gallery Gachet/Facebook)
An art gallery in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside faces an uncertain future with half of its funding being cut off in the coming months.
After 21 years Vancouver Coastal Health has decided to stop fundingGallery Gachet, a gallery and art space which offers art and vocational workshops and primarily serves those with mental health issues.
Pierre Leichner, a member of the Gallery Gachet collective, told The Early Edition's Rick Cluff that the kind of support the gallery provides to people in the troubled community is "priceless."
"Vancouver Coastal [Health] has been getting excellent value for the services Gallery Gachet does," said Leichner, who has also worked as a psychiatrist with the health authority.
"It gives the opportunity for people who would not regularly have this opportunity, to show their work, in a setting that is like a professional gallery and I can't tell you how much that helps people in terms of building their self-esteem."

Money used for rent, salaries

The funding, which will end in 90 days, was used for half of the gallery's budget — which includes the rent of the facility on 88 East Cordova, computers, electricity and the salaries of some staff.
"For [VCH] it was, 'Well go find the money somewhere else,' which I find extremely disrespectful," Leichner said.
"Gallery Gachet is an important voice towards de-stigmatizing and de-mystifying mental health issues for the general public."- Pierre Leichner
"If we don't find a solution it's drastic."
A statement from VCH explained that the decision came out of its DTES Second Generation Health Strategy, a two-year consultation and planning process in which more than 60 agencies and service partners were consulted.
As part of the health authority's new strategy, the funding from Gallery Gachet will be reinvested to support the VCH-funded Mental Health and Addiction Drop-in, the new VCH Low Threshold Addictions Service and drop-in, and the new VCH-funded Peer Navigation Program.
VCH said it will ensure that the new drop-in programming will include art-focused activities and also display client art.
The statement said that VCH commends Gallery Gachet for its work, but "this standalone service is outside VCH's primary mandate of providing core health services.
"Funding is being reallocated to focus more directly on VCH's health mandate with evidence-based services that directly link clients to services and supports."

Should art be funded?

Leichner disagreed with VCH's decision.
"What we are seeing and have been seeing for a number of years is a narrowing of focus to what is primarily the traditional, evidence-based type of medical system, which means you need a diagnosis to get in, you need a treatment plan, you need to be numbered, and case numbered. And that isn't the way Gallery Gachet functions."
Leichner said that while the gallery serves clients of mental health services, it also plays an important, larger role.
"Gallery Gachet is an important voice towards de-stigmatizing and de-mystifying mental health issues for the general public."

To hear the full interview listen to the audio labelled: DTES' Gallery Gachet loses funding

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Gemma, the 7 year old cat

I could start off this blog with "Once upon a time, there was a grey cat who was found and taken to animal control and after one week she was transferred to the SPCA."  This little grey foundling was not my first choice, but rather my second.  Poor little cat, being second choice!

If she could talk, what would she say about being second choice?  Would she be insecure and uncertain of her welcome?  Let me assure you that she is a most welcome addition to my little family and will be loved and cared for for the rest of her days.

It may be of interest to my readers to know  that I had every intention of adopting an older cat of 11 years called Bootsie.  Poor Bootsie's owner had died, and her family did not want her so took her to Animal Control where she spent some days in a cage, finally ending up in the SPCA.  She required most of her teeth pulled out  and so she was not ready for adoption right away.  I checked the Cat page of the SPCA for about two weeks, waiting for Bootsie's picture to appear so that we could go up to the shelter and adopt her.

I had even purchased a new cage to bring Bootsie home in, as I was told she was a large cat.  The shelter was full of large dogs from what I saw and the cats were kept in a separate area where they would not be bothered with the barking dogs. Bootsie was at the back of her cage, huddled and silent.

My son and I really tried to interact with Bootsie, spending a couple of hours hoping she would trust us enough to come out to the front of her cage.  Alas, nothing would budge her and she remained at the back of the cage, not even coming to sniff us.

Poor old cat, I could understand her fear but then my son saw another one who was a little more outgoing and asked me to have a look at her.  The staff person took her out of the cage and took us into a room to see if she would be comfortable with us.  It turned out well, she burrowed  into my side and hide herself that way.  She did allow us to pick her up and pat her.

She is a much younger cat, not quite 7 years old and my son had to promise to take care of her if I should die before she did. He gladly did that and I know she will be in wonderful hands as he loves animal and is very used to having cats and dogs and birds around him.  We have had, over the years, mainly these types of "pets".

We were allowed to adopt Gemma and brought her home that same night.  The SPCA had given us a voucher for $25 so we went to a pet store in Waterdown where the certificate was valid.

We picked up some Tidy Cat litter in a big jug and a scratching board.  My intention is to wean her off the litter gradually and by this time, I am only putting in about half a cup of litter and the rest is newspapers.  She has accepted that without any problem.

I had been cat sitting Oliver for two weeks during the March break for a family who had gone down to Florida so Gemma had to be kept in my room until Oliver went home as she hissed at him when he tried to be friendly.  There wasn't enough time for them to bond.

Gemma, being a shy gal, hides under the bed or under the sofa.

Yesterday my son came for a short visit to help me with my computer and I told him of the problem that Gemma only comes out at night to eat, drink and use her litter box.  She waits till I am in my bed and settled and then I feel a light spring onto the bed and there she is.  Ready to chat, so to speak!

He was able to get under my bed and we closed off my room and all the other doors in the place so that she would get used to the sitting room and the kitchen.  It worked and last night after Ken was gone home, she hopped several times onto my big chair and sat on my lap.

She now sleeps in the sitting room as did the other cats and I have my quiet bedroom back which is better for me.

This morning when I got up, she was nowhere to be seen so I am assuming she is hiding under the sofa right now.  She'll come out when she is ready.

She sure is one timid gal!  Very friendly once she comes out and sits with me.

That is the ongoing saga of Gemma, the shelter cat.  As for Bootsie, I saw that her picture is no longer on the site so I am assuming that some other older person has adopted her.  I sure hope so.

On that note, stay tuned for my episodes of Gemma the cat..........

It is my hope that Gemma eventually will feel totally at home and will become the cat queen of the castle!

Thanks for dropping by.