Little Sister's Book and Art Emporium

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The shop's main entrance

Little Sister's Book and Art Emporium, also known as Little Sister's Bookstore, but usually called "Little Sister's," is an independent bookstore in the Davie Village / West End of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, a predominantly gay community. The bookstore was opened in 1983 by Jim Deva and Bruce Smythe, and its current manager is Janine Fuller.[1]

The bookstore is famous for being embroiled in a legal battle with the Canada Border Services Agency over the importation of what the agency has labeled "obscene materials".[2] These materials, nearly all dealing with male-male or female-female sexuality, were routinely seized at the border. The same publications, when destined for mainstream booksellers in the country, had often been delivered without delay or question.[3] Glad Day Bookshop, an LGBT bookstore in Toronto, has faced similar difficulties.[2]

Little Sister's filed their claim against the federal government in 1990, but the case stalled and was not heard until October of 1994.[4] The trial concluded in January of 1996 with a judgment for the plaintiffs. The court found that Little Sister's shipments had been wrongly delayed or withheld due to the "systemic targeting of Little Sisters' importations in the Customs Mail Center."[5]

In 2000, the case was heard in the Supreme Court of Canada. The court found that the customs has targeted shipments to the bookstore and attempted to prevent them from getting in. Consequently, the government was found to have violated section 2 of the Charter. However, the violation was justified under section 1.[6] The case established that the onus of proving that expressive material is obscene lies with Canadian Customs.

The bookstore's travails were fictionalized as a subplot of the film Better Than Chocolate. A feature-length documentary film by Aerlyn Weissman, Little Sister's vs. Big Brother (2002), has also been released about the bookstore.[2] Fuller was also a coauthor with Stuart Blackley of the book Restricted Entry: Censorship on Trial, a non-fiction account of the Little Sister's battle, and wrote an introduction for Forbidden Passages: Writings Banned in Canada, an anthology of excerpts from some of the impounded works which was edited by Patrick Califia.[7] Both books were published in 1995, and were awarded Lammys at the 8th Lambda Literary Awards ceremony in 1996. Additionally, the book What right?: Graphic interpretations against censorship addressed the court case in the form of a graphic novel, with proceed from sales of the book being donated to the Little Sister's Defense fund to assist with legal challenges with Canada Customs. The book features contributions from a number of comic artists including Alison Bechdel and Marc Bell.

The bookstore's co-owner, Jim Deva, died on September 21, 2014 at age 65.[8]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "B.C. Heroes: Janine Fuller". Vancouver Sun, March 3, 2011.
  2. ^ a b c "A tale of two bookstores". Xtra!, January 19, 2006.
  3. ^ see Little Sisters Book and Art Emporium v. Canada (Minister of Justice) at paras. 12, 112 and 116
  4. ^ Fuller, Janine; Blackley, Stuart (1995). Restricted entry : censorship on trial. Vancouver, B.C.: Press Gang Publisher. p. 19. 
  5. ^ Little Sisters Book and Art Emporium v Canada (Minister of Justice), 131 D.L.R. (4th) 486, 18 B.C.L.R. (3d) (B.C.S.C. 1996).
  6. ^ Little Sisters Book and Art Emporium v Canada (Minister of Justice) (SCC 69 2000). Text
  7. ^ "Censorship Trial Spawns Books". Cuir, March/April 1996.
  8. ^ "Vancouver LGBTQ activist Jim Deva dead at 65". The Province, September 22, 2014.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 49°16′56″N 123°08′03″W / 49.282336°N 123.134251°W / 49.282336; -123.134251