Solange Cancel Rennie Collections!

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Written on the unceded and occupied territories of the Coast Salish people, specifically Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam nations, this petition calls on Solange Knowles and Primary Talent International to cancel their show/booking with Rennie Collections in Vancouver, BC currently scheduled for Thursday April 27th and Friday 28th, 2017.

We recognize Solange as a feminist, wholeheartedly support Solange's artistic endeavours, and appreciate her work challenging racism and white supremacy and uplifting blackness and black identity through her most recent album, A Seat at the Table. At the same time, as residents, neighbours, and advocates of the Downtown Eastside, we object to Solange's presence at Rennie Collections because of its associations with well-known real estate marketer "condo king", Bob Rennie. We believe the angle of donating all proceeds to Atira Women's Resource Society is a band-aid at best, and a massive distraction and an act of flatulence at worst.

"Rennie has been criticized for trying to gentrify Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, one of the poorest communities in Canada, with the Woodward's Building project, which includes 536 condominiums and 200 non-market homes. Critics said that the project pushed residents out and increased rent for the neediest members of the city."

"Amidst a growing housing affordability crisis in the run-up to the Vancouver municipal election, 2014, Rennie raised eyebrows and some outrage organizing an exclusive $25,000 a plate lunch for developer colleagues to have a private audience with mayor Gregor Robertson. The $25k lunch became the subject of a popular local internet meme."

Bob Rennie is an active participant in the displacement of communities, particularly in the Downtown Eastside (DTES), which includes Chinatown. Low-income, poor, and homeless folks live throughout Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, where gentrification is unfolding in many distinct neighbourhoods. The DTES is particularly vulnerable to the rapid changes in condo development, as the community is made up of the highest concentration of low-income, poor, and homeless folks in Canada. It is imperative to recognize that a large number of folks who are housing insecure in the DTES are also Indigenous, Chinese, Black, people of colour, disabled folks, sex workers, single mothers, neurodivergent folks, addicts, seniors, youth, cis and trans women, and LGBQ+ folks.

Chinatown, which is a part of the DTES, came into existence as a result of racism and xeno antagonism. Chinese immigrants were not allowed to live or establish businesses anywhere else, and so Chinatown formed. Today, long-term residents, who are mostly Chinese elders and seniors, have been forced out or are threatened to be forced out of their own communities. Bob Rennie's clear connection to this displacement is made obvious by the fact that his main office and personal art collection is located in Chinatown.

Rennie and the developers he works with profit from cutting deals and buying up land and building luxury condo towers which increase the value of land around them. As a result, neighbouring businesses and Single Room Occupancy (SRO) hotels see a hike in rent cost, inevitably driving out the businesses serving the community and the low-income folks living there who can no longer afford their only home.

New businesses move in to service and cater to the new occupants of the luxury condos, creating zones of exclusion as products and services are priced beyond what long-term residents can afford.

It is also important to note that Bob Rennie was the head fundraiser for the BC Liberal Party and continues to be an avid supporter of the party leader, Christy Clark. Since this party has been in provincial power, welfare rates have been frozen at $610 a month, social housing has stopped being built, and policies and practices introduced have largely benefited the upper middle class and upper class.

It is highly ironic then, that Rennie Collections has made a statement about donating the proceeds of the performance to Atira Women's Resource Soicety. We support Atira's work and at the same time believe that Bob Rennie/Rennie Collections should simply donate the amount that would have been made from ticket sales to Atira out of pocket without needing to use Solange as an excuse to do so.

Solange Knowles, we urge you to cancel your show with Rennie Collections in solidarity with the homeless, poor, and low-income community of the DTES and beyond. Do not encourage, endorse, and condone greedy capitalist Condo Kings like Bob Rennie!

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This petition has been endorsed by the Carnegie Community Action Project.

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References:
Out of control: Record high rent in Downtown Eastside SRO hotels
Gentrification report calls out dozens of DTES businesses
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/ccap-downtown-eastside-gentrification-report-1.3995159

Out of control: Record high rent in Downtown Eastside SRO hotels
http://www.carnegieaction.org/2017/03/20/out-of-control-record-high-rent-in-dtes-sro-hotels/

Gentrification as Symbolic Cannibalism: From “Fraserhood” to Chinatown
http://themainlander.com/2017/03/05/gentrification-as-symbolic-cannibalism-from-fraserhood-to-chinatown/

'They expect you to live with nothing': B.C. welfare rates lag behind inflation
http://www.metronews.ca/news/vancouver/2017/02/27/bc-government-welfare-disability-assistance-stagnant-budget.html

Bob Rennie to step down as B.C. Liberals' head fundraiser
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/bob-rennie-to-step-down-as-bc-liberals-head-fundraiser/article33630956/

How much for a salad? Online competition mocks Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson’s $25,000 lunch
http://theprovince.com/business/real-estate/how-much-for-a-salad-mayor-gregor-robertsons-pricey-fundraiser-mocked-in-25klunch-meme-competitio

Gentrification of Mount Pleasant: Developers, Displacement and Real-Estate’s New Frontier
http://themainlander.com/2012/01/23/gentrification-of-mount-pleasant-developers-displacement-and-real-estates-new-frontier/

Bob Rennie, DTES condo king, connects Olympics and real estate
http://www.carnegieaction.org/2010/03/24/bob-rennie-dtes-condo-king-connects-olympics-and-real-estate/



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