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Jody Vance

Jody Vance

Learning from History – by Jody Vance

Getty Images: Peter Langer

My Mom was born in Dubrovnik, her sister in Copenhagen. Their parents, my maternal grandparents shared in that heritage, my Grandmother the Dane — Grandfather the Yugoslav.

We have deep European roots and have reflected that here in Canada.

This is not an immigration blog — believe it or not, this is about having grown up watching a “change of Government” change a country remarkably quickly.

My Mom first took us to Europe in 1975. It was a magical trip.  Family, friends, THE FOOD, all of it was remarkable — and such a learning experience for my brother and I.

I had my 8th birthday in Copenhagen.  A beautifully spotless, not to mention safe, metropolitan city – Mom let us free-range.  We had been taught just enough Danish to get by.

On top of learning that Copenhagen had the best Playland (Tivoli Gardens) and the best hot-dogs EVER (Pölsa), we learned Denmark was so organized, so clean/safe/beautiful because of “very high taxes.” and great government.

We soaked up seeing that “1/2” of our heritage and were excited to explore the other 1/2.

Off to the warm and beautiful, but Communist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, where we would “likely need to line up for gasoline.”, the adults forewarned.

After an epically beautiful, 2-night, train ride to Zagreb …. and ridiculously long/hot/scary-cliff-hugging bus ride to our destination, we arrived in Herceg Novi, Yugoslavia — near Dubrovnik.

Our massive extended family rolled out the slavic red carpet — my Grandfather’s arrival, the eldest son, garnered a hero’s welcome.  We were whisked away to the family compound.

Not fancy, it was rustic and hearty.  “Over there” is where 95 year old Nana was born (a stone structure).  “Over there” is the main house, with the open kitchen, that never stops baking/cooking/frying/doing. “Over there” was “our house”, on the far side of the massive vegetable garden.  (think: classic yard veggie garden x 20 .. home to the best tomato I’ve ever eaten….and onion you could eat like and apple.)

Yes, we quickly confirmed that indeed gas was lined up for.  Add to that: the handful of grocery stores were lean on stock, at best.  The people of Yugoslavia lived at the whim of the government.

While there were “big fancy hotels” near by, we would forage for our food – literally.  Diving for octopus, pulling mussels from rock faces or fishing – coupled with plucking veggies from the family garden for the side dishes.  Our aunt Maria made delicious bread each morning.

We were immersed, there for the better part of a month.  No tv’s, clearly long before cell-phones and wifi, we spent the evenings sitting around a fire pit, under grapevines, listening to/telling stories.  I alway had the prime spot: my Grandfather’s lap.

It was there that I overheard countless stories of the Yugoslav communist government ruled, with an iron fist, by Pesident Josip Broz Tito. Tito was appointed President “for life” in 1963.  He was far from perfect, but somehow he kept peace in a place where Serbs and Croats  insisted on continuing their religious war. “Most don’t even know what they are fighting about anymore, they are just taught to hate.” (For the record, if you asked my Grandfather if he was “Serb or Croat” he would push out his chest and answer “I. Am. Yugoslav”.)

Tito was both loved and hated by his people.

That stayed with me.

From Wikipedia:

“According to official statistics, from the 1950s to the early 1980s, Yugoslavia was among the fastest growing countries, approaching the ranges reported in South Korea and other miracle countries. The unique socialist system in Yugoslavia, where factories were owned by workers and decision-making was less centralized than in other socialist countries may have led to the stronger growth. However, even if the absolute value of the growth rates was not as high as indicated by the official statistics, both the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia were characterized by surprisingly high growth rates of both income and education during the 1950s.”

When Tito died in 1980, the unrest came quickly. Ethnic tensions were at the centre of the storm.

My Grandfather passed away in 1985, he didn’t see the brutal war fought between Serbs and Croats, destroying his stunning jewel – the walled ancient city of Dubrovnik, and for that our family was thankful.  As a Yugoslav, he would have been crushed by the spectacle that was this “Post-Tito Era”.

That era was smudged with shame thanks, in no small part, to Slobodan Milošević who eventually took the reigns of the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia.  What unfolded under his rule is nothing short of shocking.  Ultimately, the world would see him charged with war crimes including genocide, and crimes against humanity, in 1999.  After Milošević resigned from the Yugoslav presidency – amid demonstrations – he was arrested by Yugoslav Federal authorities on suspicion of corruption, abuse of power, and embezzlement.  That was March 31, 2001. (not all that long ago!)

The Yugoslavs, who were crushed by the political changes there between 1980 and 1999, were not ignorant to the dangerous dynamic growing in their midst over that time — but they were powerless to stop it.

Yes that leader was ultimately punished, but the damage was beyond comprehension. Unfixable for millions.

So, as we look on with grave concern over the massive changes taking place in the USA we must be diligent in our actions and reactions to the power-plays.  We must use all available resources, and our collective global voices, to hold accountable those seemingly drunk with power.  The Coup that more and more appears to be unfolding before our eyes is frightening.  The US government inner circle is shrinking, the infrastructure created to add checks and balances to constitutional laws are being eroded.  This is a loud call to all of us – as a global society – to not loose site of the true impact history shows us this will have, long term.

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Jody Vance

Rebuilding Real Journalism – by Jody

Getty Images: Tim Grist Photography

“We are just sending a camera.”

Those words resonated then, today we feel the real fall out.

It seemed innocent enough, just sending a camera, I mean — costs needed to be cut, we need the clip.  If the shooter gathered visuals for a VO (voice over) and a SOT’s (sound on tape/clips) we could show that “we” were there. Continue Reading

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Adopt A Pet, Jody Vance

Adopt A Pet(s) of the week – by Jody


For many, Cat love is the best love.  If that is your mantra….you will want to have a look at the dynamic duo featured here in our Adopt A Pet Friday feature.

Meet Sammy and Mickey!  The pair was surrendered to the Dawson Creek SPCA when their family could not longer care for them, as happens sometimes.

It was a rough go for both in the early days and months, but — Sammy, since finding our group of cat lovers — is now a “strutter”.  He loves a pat and a chin scratch.  He also loves his best buddy Mickey.  Mickey is a bit on the shy side, but luckily has his BFF.  These two guys spend their days playing and snuggling.

Both kids are approaching 2 years old, they are house trained and play well with others.  The SPCA gives them a ranking of “Hidden Gem”. It’s our hope that these two will be adopted together.

go to for more info on Mickey and Sammy!



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Jody Vance

Animal Abuse in Movie Making – by Jody

If you are a regular reader here on #mybackyard,  you know I’m a dog lover.  I rescued Scout, back in early November via Thank Dog I Am Out — a local rescue group in Vancouver.  This group was scheduled to host a screening of “A Dog’s Purpose” — the film currently being called out for abusing at least one German Sheppard.  outlined here by PETA.  (the original story was broken by TMZ)

Like you, I was horrified by the images captured on this movie set in Manitoba.  Change starts with our voices: let’s be heard.

New TODAY from TMZ:

“The American Humane Association was on set and is responsible for enforcing safety guidelines for animal actors. The org is the body that validates that no animals are harmed in the making of a film.The AHA tells TMZ, “We are placing the safety representative who was on the set on administrative leave immediately and are bringing in an independent third party to conduct an investigation into this matter.”

Amblin Partners and Universal Pictures told TMZ, they have always been determined to foster the ethical treatment of actor animals and are investigating the matter.”

The founder of TDIAO sent me this letter, which I am certain she would want me to share in it’s entirety:


Just thought I would touch base with you (just because your voice is respected) to let you know that we, as a Not for Profit, dog rescue organization decided to pull the plug on our highly anticipated pre screening doggie movie “A Dog’s Purpose”. Universal studios hand selected a group of rescue organizations to have the right to pre screen this feature film 2 days prior to it being released in North America as a fundraiser. Thank DOG was their first choice, with about 135 other NOT for Profits…Months of negotiating with Cineplex and at a cost of over $2,000.00 to secure the theatre upfront, had us promoting our event hard and wow, as of today we had pre sold 225 out of the 300 seats… then the TMZ leak … 

A link to a moment during the filming of this movie, when a German Shepard , clearly frightened, was forced , in fact pushed, into a very wild pool of rough rapids. It was disturbing, very difficult to watch. The dog clung to the side of the pool and at one point  went under the water. The film crew were in the water and I am told the dog, although shaken was ok… but not ok to us. So, we pulled the plug, walked away from our contact commitment and will accept the consequences. 

It was a no brainer to call it but the whole incident has upset us. Is this really happening ? I must say I am blindsided just trying to comprehend that in the making of a dog rescue movie that this is even a conversation we are having. 

On the good side we have the full support of our community and have raised awareness with regards to still needing stronger animal right laws.. it’s a hot topic today, trending on FB and all over the Internet.

Why am I reaching out to you? Because  I want people to understand we at TDIAO had absolutely nothing to do with regards to the filming of this movie.

TDIAO was invited by Universal to celebrate our work by sharing what should have been a beautiful 1:48mins, but instead we have to raise money to pay for our decision to walk away from our contract commitment to Cineplex because of our strong beliefs.

Lastly, this book “A Dog’s Purpose”, by Bruce Cameron is an amazing book and it had nothing to do with this event. I want people to still embrace the book. I have personally handed out about 50 as gifts over the last few years… it’s a big mess.

Just thought you might want to weigh in on it.

Have a wonderful evening. Thank you for listening and BIG hugs to your TDIAO baby … 




Susan Patterson

Founder TDIAO

It’s important to not blame the author of “A Dog’s Purpose”, worth reiterating that.  It’s equally important to hold Universal Pictures, and all production houses, responsible for the ethical and humane treatment of animals in the making of movies. Please take a moment to share this….

TMZ updated with comments from the film-makers.

TMZ just updated AGAIN.  “Huge Fines and Possible Jailtime”


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Jody Vance

Debating Inauguration/Twitter and The Media – by Jody

Getty Images: TriggerPhoto

There are many debates happening now in #mybackyard….the loudest handful include:

Should Twitter ban Donald Trump?

Should politicians boycott the Inauguration?

Should the public, who are Anti-Trump “not watch” the peaceful transition of power, that is the inauguration?

Should the media fight back against this President who, clearly, wants to manage all messages and will deny access to those who push with questions he disapproves of?

There is so much flying around right now it’s getting difficult to even think through all of the noise.  Let’s begin on these five questions:

Should Twitter ban Trump.  No. As much I wish he would go away — it’s up to US, the public and the media, to stop reacting and promoting his twitter rants.  (I blocked him 6 months ago and still I see almost every tweet!) It’s on my feed via re-tweets and it’s on my local, national and international news programs.  The responsibility lays with us.  I highly recommend reading Dan Rather’s “News and Guts” — this new project discusses many things including media and how we might wade through much of the murky Trump messages and miss-steps.  Rather’s take on social media’s responsibility in Trump becoming President, alone, is worth the time.

Should politicians boycott the Inauguration? Short answer: Yes.  Your absence is a statement and now is the time to show other leaders where you stand on a Trump Presidency.  It matters.  It means something.  When Elected Officials stand against what they deem to be an illegitimate President — it shows their constituents that they hear the cry for a fair and moderate leader.

Should the public “not watch” the inauguration in the name of protest?  I believe the answer here is no.  This is history and we need to watch, learn and be vocal about what we do or do not want in this world.  He’s a President not an Emperor.  You can use your voice against this President, it’s the foundation of democracy.  He’s not a supreme ruler with sweeping power — globally we must believe that our collective voices, calling for fairness in the Oval Office and it’s policies, are valid.  Watch.  Listen.  React.  Watch with your kids and explain what is happening, and how we got here.  There is no reason to tune out in protest.  Tuning out, IMHO that is how we got here — by turning a blind eye to the noisy Trump Supporters, believing that they will go away.  Clearly that tack failed.

Last, but certainly not least: Should the media push back?  HELL YES.  It’s vital that the media no cower to the threat of being denied access.  I highly recommend that you watch this Christiane Amonpour video (a exclusive) where the veteran journo gives a no-holds-barred view of where we are as an industry.  Trump’s exclusion of media outlets who don’t forward his agenda is shocking and wrong on most every level.  It’s one thing for a sports organization to limit access to tear critics (something, by the way, I do not agree with) but — this is POTUS!  Some say that these are dark days for media, a winter for journalism, I think it may just turn out to be the opposite.

Now is the time for journalism to stop relying on an established network of sources and crafted “stories” for content and actually DIG.  Dig and find gold, take the time to validate information and then present it in a way that is undeniable.

These are the debates in #mybackyard. Would love your view.  Pull up the yellow chair and comment!


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Jody Vance

Snowden/Hacking/USPolitics/You. – by Jody


After sobbing through the farewell speech by out-going president Barack Obama, and then cringing through the first press conference held by President Elect Donald Trump — we were feeling the need for a window inside how National Security in the US works via the filter of Oliver Stone.

Last night, we watched the Stone’s bio-pic “based on actual events” called  Snowden — first screened at ComicCon then TIFF last summer.  Basically this is a movie about a young American computer genius who worked his way deep into the NSA and CIA.

With so much hacking talk, these days, it was  fascinating. The story of Edward Snowden covered the end of the George W. Bush presidency and into that of Barack Obama — and gave a hollywood movie glimpse of US intelligence gathering.

You likely know the story and how it centres around Snowden ultimately choosing to become a whistleblower. How and why he felt the need to let the world know about mass surveillance being done by the NSA. It’s a well woven tale — taking you on a journey to Snowden connecting to The Guardian News Outlet and handing over Top Secret intel on how the US Government listens in, and watches, Joe Public. 

There was one moment in this film that really resonated with me…it was where the head of the CIA explains, to an impressionable Ed Snowden, how the real threats aren’t in Iraq or Iran but rather online hacking threats by Russia and China. He added that blocking this hacking needs to happen or “this country will be ripped to shreds“.

Here we are in 2017 and hacking is all the world seems to be talking about.

From Wikileaks Julian Assange — to buzzfeed — to CNN, NBC, The NY Times…and on and on.

The “Hacker”, Snowden, lives in exile, still, to avoiding prosecution on US soil, under the Espionage Act.

Retired NSA Deputy Director Chris Inglis, portrayed in the film by Patrick Joseph Byrnes, takes issue with the details in “Snowden” and thinks that the Hollywood license taken glorifies a low-level NSA worker. He’s debunking many of the “truths” added by Stone.

Seems that the old adage of “there are three sides to every story — yours, mine and the truth” comes into play here.  I’m certainly no expert on any of this.  (American Politics, US National Security, Surveillance, The CIA….and on and on.) I am a News Junkie and student of information and this is certainly a topic in mybackyard.  What do you think of all of this?  Please comment here — I’d love to know. Should Snowden be pardoned? Should he remain in exile in Russia? Is hacking the biggest threat we face?

Also of note: how incredibly careful the journalists, and their bosses, were about reporting Snowden’s information.  That is how real news is gathered.  Just so you know.

I urge you to watch this movie or, at the very least take some time click the links above and continue to read/watch reputable, multi-sourced news outlets.  The basic message of it all is that the REAL REVOLUTION starts with the PEOPLE.

It’s a noisy world we live in now, and it is only going to get noisier by January 20th.


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Jody Vance

finding The Middle. – by Jody

We are living in a time of extremes.  There is your way, there is my way….over there is the highway.  Where-oh-where has The Middle gone?

IMHO there is a lot to be learned from The Middle.  Like that, very true, old adage: there are three sides to every story – “yours, mine and the truth”.

The truth can often be found in The Middle.

So many discussions in MyBackyard, and on radio, in recent months have included spirited conversations that grow to a bit of a tense crescendo. It is this tension that is a fairly new phenomenon — it’s rare to “agree to disagree” or better still, find The Middle — these days. We are all on a hair trigger!

Extreme (and entrenched) points of view are so often rooted, it seems, in partial facts — fake news — trending stories.  We feel we know all the facts as long as we feel comfortable that they support our stance, right?

The lack of middle can be blamed on many things, but doesn’t the responsibility to find the middle start with us?

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