Hastings-Sunrise: Vancouver activist knits past with family life

How bad is Anna Hunter?

Well, shes so bad that she actually named her store Baaad Annas.

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No, thats not a typographical error.

Yes, three As in bad.

Now say it again baaad.

Kind of sounds like a bleating sheep, right?

And when you discover Hunter operates a yarn store along a busy strip in the Hastings-Sunrise neighbourhood, the name makes sense. Its kind of funny, too.

Except, Hunter will tell you, theres a double meaning to it.

Anna Hunter is the same Anna Hunter who once led the Anti-Poverty Committee in protests, sit-ins and actions that had her arrested several times in the run-up to the 2010 Winter Olympics. She was the one with a megaphone, rallying members of the committee to question why Vancouver needed to host an expensive international event when so many people were homeless.

Hunter and friends also took their fight to then-mayor Sam Sullivan and his so-called project civil city plan to reduce homelessness, the open drug market and public disorder by 2010. They called his plan a war on the poor.

One of the members even doused Sullivan with a full pitcher of Coke during an NPA mayoral nomination meeting at a downtown hotel.

So, yes bad.

But that was then.

Hunter, who has a degree in international development and is the daughter of former Olympian ski racer Jungle Jim Hunter, is now 34 and married with two young boys. She rents the main floor of a house close to her store, which she opened four years ago this month with her carpenter husband.

Its an inviting space, with big comfortable chairs up front and toys on the floor for children of parents who participate in knitting classes.

Its the only yarn store in Hastings-Sunrise. But as it says on the stores awning, which features images of two pirate-like sheep, its not your mamas yarn store.

I wanted a store that was edgy and maybe doing things a little bit differently and also reflective of who I am as a person and my politics, said Hunter from her store in the 2600-block of East Hastings. Its a great name and the logo is great but spelling Baaad Annas out on the phone though is a total pain in the ass.

Hunter understands why people might get a laugh out of the activist-turned-knitter tale, but she has a couple of things to say about that.

First, she learned how to knit when she was a live-in nanny many years ago in Switzerland. Second, shes been knitting ever since, even in the courtroom while she watched a friend get sentenced for dousing Sullivan with Coke.

Her days with the Anti-Poverty Committee, she said, were one part of her life and she doesnt want to be defined solely by that period. But if you think shes softened on the issues of housing and poverty, you would be wrong.

Gentrification, the citys proposed Grandview-Woodland community plan, housing affordability and keeping small businesses alive are all on her radar. I dont have the same opportunity or privilege to fight against cops to defend a building for homeless people, she said, referring to raising her boys, aged one and three. But meeting with my neighbours and with other business owners and with other moms and other parents thats more of what it looks like for me right now.

Added Hunter: I guess the thought of sitting in jail when my kids need me at home that doesnt make sense for me right now. Two years from now, it might be a totally different story.

mhowell@vancourier.com

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