Let’s Make Some Money from This Shit Show! Honey Bucket Futures, Housing, and Climate Crisis in “British Columbia”

Multilayered collage: A woman from a Lululemon yoga pants ad doing yoga on a lawn with a private entrance staircase to a portable toilet cabin, surrounded by lush greenery; cityscape of downtown Kamloops in the background. Artwork: Colnate Group, 2024 (cc by nc)
Artwork: Colnate Group, 2024 (cc by nc)

Accelerating climate disasters (heat waves, floods, etc.) also exacerbate socio-environmental crises such as housing shortages, and particularly affect Indigenous peoples struggling for survival and spatial justice in “British Columbia’s” urbanized centers. In their contribution to the “Kin City” series, the Honey Bucket Futures Collective shows how their satirical interventions accompany these struggles, creating surprising imaginaries of future urban ecologies.


Since 2021, we, the Honey Bucket Futures Collective, have been co-creating comedic interventions in response to escalating interlocking climate and housing crisis impacting Tk̓emlúps te Secwépemc in Secwepemcúĺecw, a city colonially named Kamloops and in Vancouver, the unceded, or stolen land of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples. Our collective is made up of three artists: Mi’kmaq musician and comedian Nakuset Gould, Secwepemc and Nlaka’pamux comedian, poet, visual artist Chris Bose, and Heather Mclean, a settler of Irish, Scottish and English descent and an Assistant Professor in Human Geography at Athabasca University. Performing as our alter-ego characters – Skus Akwesin, Donny Dreamcatcher, and Toby Sharp – we create satirical urban planning workshops.

Our alter-egos are eager to profit from settler colonial capitalist urban planning and policies. Skus Akwesin, is an Instagram influencer who sells high end pond scum energy drinks to settlers to help them become more entrepreneurial. Donny Dreamcatcher is a leg wrestling coach and property developer excited to pave over everything to make a buck. According to Chris, neoliberal consultants are the new “fur fort” in settler colonial Canada. Instead of making money trading whisky, sugar, and guns for furs, consultants selling visions for planning new condominiums and strip malls are the latest iteration of colonial capitalism. Toby Sharp, a self-proclaimed world leader in creativity and entrepreneurial planning is a composite character of the masculinist consultants and urban leaders Heather met while working as a planner in Tkaronto (colonially named Toronto) in the early 2000’s. Replicating neoliberal urban regeneration plans and policies, Toby also encourages cash strapped municipalities and not-for-profit organizations to be more “innovative” and “creative.”

Honey Bucket Futures emerged from our rhizomatic network of music, art, and activist collectives stretching across so-called Canada and beyond. Heather met Chris after she returned to Kamloops to work for the local university Thompson Rivers University after living in Glasgow, Scotland for five years where she performed Toby with prison justice and anti-gentrification activists. She was familiar with his work because he had played in bands with her friends since high school and his politicized murals animated the city’s walls. Meanwhile, Heather and Nakuset in 2013 at events at Toronto Free Gallery, an artist-run center that supported underrepresented Indigenous, Black and People of Color artists, 2-Spirit and LGBTQIA+ artists.

In 2020, Heather first reached out to Nakuset and Chris to collaborate in an artists’ workshop in an online feminist environmental studies conference at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC). Together, we decided to create a satirical urban planning workshop about climate and housing crises in Tk̓emlúp/Kamloops in so-called British Columbia, a city with a population of 100,000. Like all urban centers across Turtle Island, historic and ongoing colonial violence shape the city’s urban politics and policies. In 2021, Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation uncovered 215 children buried in the grounds surrounding the Kamloops Indian Residential School that was in operation from 1890 to 1969. Across so-called Canada, residentials schools were Canadian church and state genocidal practices to destroy Indigenous languages and lifeworlds and to clear land for real estate, extractive industries, and ranching to bolster capitalist expansion. Extractive industries, logging, ranching, and a large industrial train yard now support the city’s regional economy.

Precarious life

Interconnected to these ongoing racial capitalist and settler colonial politics, Tk’emlúps/Kamloops is also the site of employment and housing precarity. Across the territory, a growing low paid service sector employs racialized workers in precarious jobs. Gentrification is also creating enormous barriers for low-income, aging, and disabled Kamloops residents, including many residential school survivors. In the city’s small downtown core, developers have torn down aging affordable housing stock, replacing the buildings with new high-end, twenty-six story securitized condominium towers. Meanwhile, Business Improvement Area officials, municipal planners and developers are collaborating with the local university to build trendy breweries, restaurants, and arts facilities. This uneven development signals the financialization of real estate markets impacting cities globally, including small urban centers often off the radar of critical scholars and housing activists. Indeed, it seems like the real estate bubble of the Greater Vancouver Area, home of some of the world’s most expensive housing, has burst and flooded the Kamloops market.

Accelerating climate disasters are also compounding socio-ecological crises in Kamloops. In the summer of 2021, eighty-one forest fires swept through the surrounding territory. Later that year, record rainfall landed on the burnt forest floors covered in fire retardant resulting in massive flooding in nearby towns and villages and the Coquihalla Highway snapped in several places, blocking transport trucks from bringing food into nearby communities. As Indigenous poets, scholars, Land defenders and Water Protectors write, the climate disasters impacting Kamloops signal the impacts of historic and ongoing violence of colonial-capitalist extractive industries, logging, and property development on the landscape.

Since our initial presentation for UNBC, we have created comedic responses to these interlocking crises. In the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chris and Heather, as Toby and Donny, went for walks around the city and filmed each other discussing urban development and oil pipeline expansion. On our walks we made satirical infomercials, including a video about Donny Dreamcatcher’s Salmon Slap Smoothies – a gooey black energy drink made of salmon impacted by oil spills. We also filmed the infomercial on the site of the Secwépemc Unity Water Protectors Camp where mostly women and Elder Indigenous Water Protectors fought the drilling of the TMX pipeline to carry Alberta tar sands sludge under Secwépemcetkwe, a river colonially named the Thompson River. In violent defense of the colonial petro-capitalist state, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrested some of the Water Protectors. With some coaching from comedy writer, director, and performance theorist Moynan King and media artist and performance theorist Dayna McLeod, we developed “A Buzz in Your Hub: Entrepreneurial Strategies for the Late Capitalist Death Spiral,” a 30-minute online performance that we screened at the Vancouver Fringe Festival and the rEvolver festival of performance in Vancouver in June 2023.

The toilet honey bucket home

A Buzz in Your Hub,” our very DIY satirical comedy, features a range of fictitious urban planning schemes, including Honey Bucket Futures, a housing project encouraging people to move into portable toilets as the latest trend in tiny new home living. This innovation in flexible, toilet-based living is Donny Dreamcatcher’s response to the current housing crisis in Kamloops. The nickname Honey Bucket refers to the small blue portable toilets often found on construction sites and at music festivals. In rural areas and small towns, we often refer to these portable toilets as Honey Buckets, referring to the disgusting slur of blue toilet waste they produce.

For Chris, the toilet honey bucket home is his response to the number of people living in temporary modular homes after forest fires and floods have devastated communities across Secwepemcúĺecw. The housing and climate crisis is no laughing matter for Chris. His mom’s ancestral village, Camchin, colonially named Lytton, completely burned down in 2021 after the area was enveloped in a 50-degree Celsius heat dome, the hottest recorded temperature in the Northern Hemisphere that day. Colonial trauma already shaped Chris’s mom’s everyday life: she attended the St. Joseph’s residential school on the outskirts of Lytton. We also joked how the Honey Bucket is an apt metaphor for the rise of micro-suites, tiny 300 square foot apartments sold in the new condominium towers and regeneration plans replacing trailer parks that house working poor residents with trendy tiny homes marketed to middle class professionals.

In 2023, we further developed the Honey Bucket Futures for a satirical urban planning workshop at the rEvolver Festival of Performance’s Indigenous Emergence Triple Feature and Community Gathering in East Vancouver. As Skus, Donny and Toby, we facilitated a collaborative session where participants created their own Honey Bucket home with cut out images of police, high end art, breweries, charcuterie boards, and many other images. The Vancouver iteration of our performance was a space to engage in a discussion about the ridiculous and violent state of urban politics in Vancouver.

Towards wiser and kinder futures

Since he was elected in 2022, the current Mayor, Ken Sim, endorsed by billionaire Chip Wilson, the owner of Lululemon yoga pants, continues to implement a law-and-order campaign; his policies include harassing the growing unhoused population with violent street sweeping campaigns. At the rEvolver gathering, participants responded to these carceral politics by creating their own Honey Bucket collage plans with collages featuring cops in expensive yoga pants serving expensive craft beer and housing made of mycelium. Participants also created hopeful, dream-like collages featuring abundant gardens, brass bands, mycelium, and flying creatures.

To conclude, while creating our projects, Chris and Nakuset have reflected on the numerous times extractive university researchers have approached them to provide land acknowledgements and create Indigenous curriculum and art projects with minimal financial support. Their insights have taught Heather of the deep importance of practicing hyper reflexivity as a white settler researcher with historic and ongoing complicities in colonial, neoliberal systems and structures. As a collective we keep grappling with these contradictions and tensions and seeking new ways to make and share our crappy comedic creations. We hope we are part of larger movements to chip away at settler colonial systems and structures and laugh our ways towards wiser and kinder futures.

Editor’s note: The article is a contribution to the “Kin City” series of the Berliner Gazette. More information: https://berlinergazette.de/kin-city-urban-ecologies-and-internationalism-call-for-papers

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