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Ocean debris believed to be from Japan is posed for a photograph on Long Beach in Tofino, B.C., April, 18, 2012. (JONATHAN HAYWARD/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Ocean debris believed to be from Japan is posed for a photograph on Long Beach in Tofino, B.C., April, 18, 2012. (JONATHAN HAYWARD/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

2012 in review

The year that was in British Columbia Add to ...

Japanese tsunami debris hits B.C.

There has already been a motorcycle, as well as derelict vessels. Debris from the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March of 2011 began arriving in B.C. this year – and more is expected to wash up in 2013.

An estimated 5 million tonnes of debris was swept into the Pacific Ocean as a result of the tsunami. About 1.5 million tonnes is believed to still be floating.

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This past March, the governments of B.C., Washington, Oregon and California agreed to work together on managing the debris.

Exactly when the next wave will arrive – or where it will turn up – is unclear. However, a recent Japanese government report says an increase in lumber-related debris is expected between now and June.

The Japanese consulate has requested that any debris that appears to be of value be reported so it can be returned to its rightful owner.

Yertle gets political

There was plenty of tension to go around between teachers and the provincial government during the year, as the two sides butted heads on wages, class size and composition, and other contract issues.

As talks dragged on, some teachers wondered how far they could go in expressing their views.

In April, a Prince Rupert elementary teacher was told a quote from Dr. Seuss’s Yertle the Turtle was a political statement that should not be displayed or worn on clothing in her classroom. The teacher included the quote in material she brought to a meeting with management after she received a notice relating to union material visible in her car on school property.

The quote in question – “I know up on top you are seeing great sights, but down here on the bottom, we too should have rights” – comes from Yertle the Turtle, the tale of a turtle who climbs on the backs of other turtles to get a better view. That quest ends when a turtle on the bottom of the pile, named Mack, burps and sends Yertle tumbling from his lofty perch.

A school official – who said he didn’t know the origin of the quote at the time he deemed it unsuitable – said his decision was in keeping with a 2011 arbitrator’s decision that found political materials must be kept out of B.C. classrooms.

After being reported in The Globe and Mail – with an illustration of a status-seeking Yertle – the story was widely circulated.

Some versions said the book was banned – it wasn’t – or that all works by Dr. Seuss had somehow been deemed inappropriate by school authorities (they hadn’t). But on the upside, the buzz gave readers a reason to refresh their memories of, or perhaps read for the first time, the tale of a turtle whose ambitions sent him hurtling from the heights to the mud.

BCTF members ratified a two-year deal in June, 2012.

Transgender beauty queen Jenna Talackova

Model Jenna Talackova made headlines in 2012 as the first transgender Miss Universe Canada contestant in the pageant’s history. While she didn’t ultimately win – the 24-year-old was one of 12 finalists – she says the competition has changed her life, giving her more of a purpose than she felt as a discontented nutrition student just a year ago. Highlights from 2012 include attending the Brazilian Ball in Toronto and serving as grand marshal of the Vancouver Pride Parade, she says.

Early next year, the Vancouver native will move to Toronto to continue production of her reality show, which has yet to air. Despite being a self-professed Vancouver girl, Ms. Talackova said she is excited about the new start, especially since she recently ended a three-year relationship.

“I’m very thankful for all of the popularity and all of the opportunities [the pageant] has brought me,” she said. “I’m just owning it now and trying my best at it.”

Adam Kreek and his merry band of rowers

In April, after three weeks at sea, Adam Kreek and a small team of four other rowers pulled in to Vancouver harbour after circumnavigating Vancouver Island.

It turns out their sea travels had just begun.

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