The Jasper Busking Story — Monika Schaefer

The Jasper Busking Story — Monika Schaefer

Free Speech Monika

~ Exercising My Human Right to Speak Freely!

Free Speech Monika

The Jasper Busking Story

The following story is an abridged open letter which I sent to the Mayor and Council of Jasper on July 8, 2017. Their email addresses are at the bottom, if you care to write to them. There is much irony in this story, especially in light of the fact that the award pictured here was given to me by the very organization which denied me a busking permit.

Raven-about-the-Arts Award

A Chronology of Promises & Broken Promises, Steps & Missteps

This story begins about 5 years ago. I made a presentation to Town Council that busking should be allowed in Jasper. It was not legal to busk at the time. I made the case that this little mountain town within a national park and world heritage site was a perfect place for busking, and that it would be a win-win-win situation. It would be good for the musicians, good for the tourists, and good for the town aesthetic. My presentation was well received, and the councillors enthusiastically assured me they would work on making it happen.

It took some time, but finally in 2016, the busking program was launched. To be specific it was Busking Pilot Project #2. Pilot Project #1 occurred during the Arts Days weekend late September 2015, and I took part in that. My band, the “Fiddle River Band”, played on the Saturday afternoon, and it was a great success. People were dancing on the sidewalk.

The 2016 Pilot Project was the first time that busking licences would be sold, and musicians could busk all summer, with a few guidelines stipulating where, when and how long.

Imagine my surprise then when I went to buy my licence, and was sent the curt email,

in light of your recently publicly proclaimed non-inclusive beliefs we have decided to decline a permit to you at this time.

There it was, clearly stated, that it was because of my thoughts that I was not going to be allowed to play my violin on the streets of Jasper.

That was last year. What came next? A season of surveys, meetings, emails, new process, newspaper articles, auditions, vetting buskers, guidelines, and rules.

Winter of 2016 – 2017

In response to numerous queries last summer by both myself and Prof Tony Hall from the University of Lethbridge, the town manager responded that there would be a survey in the fall to determine the success and what problems, if any, arose from the busking project, and then they would be in a position to answer our questions.

Autumn came and went, and there was not much action. There was a general satisfaction survey which included two questions on busking, and another survey for the business community more specifically related to busking.

On February 14th, 2017, busking was on the agenda of the Committee-of-the-Whole Council meeting. I requested a spot on the agenda. Marianne Garrah and Dave Baker of the Habitat for the Arts were also in attendance and made a presentation before mine.

I took note of Marianne Garrah’s comment that the vetting process for buskers should be based on talent and musical ability. This was noted in the minutes. To my understanding, that statement by Garrah was a tacit admission that they had erred the previous summer when they denied me a busking license based on my thoughts. This gave me confidence that this summer would be different.

At the same time, Councillor Gilbert Wall declared openly that I should not be allowed on the streets to busk, and that he could not separate my violin playing from my ideas. It was written about in both newspapers, as being “the elephant in the room” and “given what we know…” – how ominous – Councillor Wall made it clear that there must be “an out”, for them to be able to shut me out.

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April 11 2017 Committee of the Whole minutes state that the management of the Busking Pilot Project for 2017 would once again be handed over to the Habitat for the Arts. They also stated that the selection committee should be comprised of people who are qualified to assess musical abilities.

During subsequent meetings, a clear outline of process was made for the busker vetting and selection process. There would be a panel of 5 judges. A point system would be used. Habitat for the Arts would choose a song from the auditionee’s set lists. If the performer “seems shaky on one song you may ask them to perform another song”. The performance would be recorded and sent to other judges who presumably could not all come together at the same time because of busy schedules.

This process implies open visibility of the panel. Several of the guidelines make it clear that this was to be a live audition process. For example, one guideline states

Judges are encouraged to interact with performers (but not for too long, just enough to make them feel comfortable).” Another states: “If a performer doesn’t show up, move on to the next performer on the list.”

After the May 2nd meeting, I immediately struck up a correspondence with the Habitat people to indicate my interest in auditioning for the purpose of acquiring a busking licence. I went in person, and I emailed.

When will the auditions take place?
Where should I show up?
How will I find out when they take place?
Will there be an announcement in the paper?
Will they email me? Phone me?

Responses to my attempts at communication were either absent or slow.

Finally I was told that I could simply send them a clip electronically. Pardon me???

What happened to the whole “select a song and if they are shaky pick another one, and please interact but not too much….” scenario? What was going to be a live audition in front of a panel of judges turned into an anonymous “send in your tape”.

I asked Marianne Garrah in person, “This process is open and transparent, correct? The judges’ identities should be public, yes?” She agreed. I asked who the judges are. She started to name them and after naming two, she hesitated, reconsidered, and said,

uhhhhh, I can’t remember who the others are, it’s not really my thing. This is not my project…


End of May, still no buskers on the streets of Jasper.

June – I left town for about two weeks, and when I returned, there were indeed buskers on the street, but only just.

Buskstop permits

I tried to visit the Habitat several times, to no avail, as nobody was there. I emailed, and asked when I could please pick up my permit, assuming of course that there would be no problem passing the audition process, having sent them the link to my music samples. They all had assured me that they knew I could play. And they did say it was based on talent and musical ability.

Imagine once again my surprise when I received the following unsigned email.

Hello Monika

For 2017 the Jasper Busking program has been designed such that a ‘no meet’ e-committee of community minded individuals are given sound/youtube/audition files provided by the artists.  Those files are listened to with the intent of realizing three things:  skill of the artist (5potential criteria points), potential enjoyment by the listener (5potential criteria points), and to gain a preception [sic] of the artists stage presence (5potential criteria points).  Those criteria points are calculated over the 5 community members and to be warranted a licence the total must equal at least 55 (or 11 out of 15 from each response).

Unfortunately the results that came back to Habitat from the committee did not reflect that total for you.  Your application for 2017 has been declined.

Habitat for the Arts
for the Jasper Municipal 2017 Busking Pilot Project

Who are these faceless nameless “community minded individuals”? They made rules and guidelines, then broke them all. Live audition process turned into electronic transmission to who knows who, and whoever they are, they reached their objective to keep Monika out. No accountability. No transparency. No legitimate reason was given. They got their way and evaded responsibility. Anonymous judges, faceless nameless individuals, awarding insufficient (zero?) points to one of the best-known musicians in this little town, is rather Kafkaesque, is it not?

The Farce

What did all of this amount to? New process after endless deliberations and meetings, it was all a big facade and nothing more. They did not quite know what to do with Monika Schaefer. They knew they could not openly deny me a license based on lack of musical abilities. They stated it many times, that it was not my music that bothered them, rather, it was my thoughts. My musical background and involvement in this community is extensive and well-known. In fact, some would say I had acquired local celebrity status as a violinist and fiddler, who was in much demand at community functions and fundraisers, both as performer and occasionally also as judge during competitions.

They must have struggled with this problem, because in spite of declaring at the May 2nd council meeting that they would like to see buskers on the streets of Jasper by the May long weekend, they did not appear until some time during the second week of June. I happened to be out of town then – how convenient.

False Diversity Project

Jasper advertises its Diversity Project while advancing ideological exclusiveness.

The Fitzhugh newspaper reported (March 16, 2017 article page 3 and editorial page 6) that I was the subject of debate in deliberations about a proclamation designating Jasper an “inclusive community”. The Mayor warned that the proclamation could have unforeseen consequences.

It seems to me that inevitably we will run into the elephant in the room that councillor Gilbert Wall spoke about a week ago, that is when you proclaim to be inclusive without limitation then you are forced to confront those with whom you might have the most profound disagreements. ~Mayor Richard Ireland

All the while there is the absolute assumption that I am guilty of a crime – a thought crime. Regardless of whether I am right or wrong – should that even be relevant for the acquisition of a busking licence? Did we once pride ourselves on having freedom of speech in Canada?

Various agencies in the town of Jasper have designated themselves judge, jury and enforcers against the alleged thought crimes of Monika Schaefer. All the while, there is never so much as a glimmer of introspection, not the slightest interest in making enquiries into the issues which I have raised. In fact, the opposite is true. The ferocious attack against me is designed to frighten anyone else from looking.

There is simply a blanket acceptance of the prevailing dogma, and anyone who dares question is guilty of “racial incitement”. The very act of questioning is criminalized. The nasty little label “hate speech” is applied, and that’s that. Evidence is not required when something is “self-evident”. The Doctrine of Judicial Notice allows courts to recognize as “fact” matters that are “common knowledge”. The victors write the history books, so when they say it is so, then it is so. They determine what becomes “common knowledge”.

Inclusive community is a fraudulent concept in Jasper. Diversity in Jasper does not include thoughts.

Dear Mayor and Councillors, is this what you call due process? Is this not an EXACT fulfillment of some of my concerns expressed earlier in the winter? I thought we had reached an understanding that playing music should have NOTHING to do with a person’s views. Are you going to stand by and support the Habitat in their fraudulent project? Is this your legacy, turning the righteous town of Jasper, all-inclusive Jasper, into a narrow thought-policing agency?

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the UN Declaration of Human Rights are not being respected here in this little town in the midst of a National Park and a World Heritage Site.

The Jasper Diversity Project is a sham. The Jasper busking program is a farce. The proclamation of Inclusive Community is a joke. And most especially, the Habitat for the Arts Values and Principles Statement, all about “learning never stops…, embrace new challenges and ideas…, grow through knowledge exchange and support…” earns all three descriptors: sham, farce and a joke.

Monika Schaefer

sent to Mayor and Council:

as well as to the Habitat for the Arts:

please copy to:

Dave Baker:
Mark Fercho:
Bob Covey:
Paul Clarke:
Monika Schaefer:

Monika Schaefer Asks to Appear As A Delegation at Jasper Town Council to Appeal Being Banned from Busking for Her Political Views

Monika Schaefer Asks to Appear As A Delegation at Jasper Town Council to Appeal Being Banned from Busking for Her Political Views


ovember 2, 2016

Mark Fercho

Chief Administrative Officer, Jasper Alberta

cc to Mayor and Councillors, and the Habitat for the Arts staff

bcc list extensive

Dear Mr Fercho,


To follow up after my appearance at yesterday’s council meeting, I am requesting a space on the agenda of a town council meeting in the near future. The purpose of my presentation will be to address the busking issue.

I am confident that we will resolve this with a positive outcome, and I look forward to letting people around the world know, who are watching closely. I fully expect to be playing my violin on the streets of Jasper come Spring 2017.


It is hardly a secret that I have been denied a busking permit during the summer of 2016 for the alleged reason of my “publicly proclaimed non-inclusive beliefs”. TheJasper Community Habitat for the Arts was given the authority to sell busking licenses on behalf of the town, and Habitat employee David Baker denied me the license. During the summer I tried unsuccessfully to have a meeting with David Baker to discuss the matter. On August 16th Prof Anthony Hall was informed by staff in the administrative office that it was Marianne Garrah who was responsible. Both Dave Baker and Marianne Garrah are on copy of this email.

My appearance at the council meeting on November 1st was unscheduled. Thank you, Mayor Ireland, for giving me a moment to speak.  I politely stopped talking when Councillor Wall intervened after about 2 minutes, and said I was out of order because I was not on the agenda. I would like to point out, however, that many rules and conventions have been broken all summer long in prohibiting me, a long-time and upstanding citizen of Jasper, from busking. I feel that I would not have been out of line had I insisted on another 5 minutes of Council’s time thereby slightly bending “the rules”.

Everyone knows the story, and there has been a stunning and shameful silence from Council on this matter. It is high time that we have a frank discussion of what exactly went down in Jasper Alberta Canada in the summer of 2016 with regards to freedom of expression and inclusiveness (NOT!) of someone that has a “politically incorrect” view of history.

Broken Rules

What might I be referring to when I suggest that many rules and conventions have been broken? Since we are in a National Park in a World Heritage Site, let us start big.

Article 19 of the United Nations Declaration on Universal Human Rights (UNDUHR):

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

Let us continue with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms section 2, which ensures freedom of thought and expression:

“2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

(a) freedom of conscience and religion;

(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;

(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and

(d) freedom of association.”

Now let us look at some of the statements in the Habitat’s own Values and Principles statement, which had been forwarded to me along with the curt email denying me a licence, as if to say that I contravened their values and principles.

“…We believe that learning never stops

… We embrace new challenges and ideas…

We help each other grow through knowledge exchange and support.

We respect diversity…”

With respect, I say that it is the Habitat staff themselves who seriously breached their own Values and Principles.

The Situation with Monika Schaefer and Busking in Jasper


MonikaSchaeferTruth Revealer

I am a peaceful and innocent person. It is as simple as that. I have not been charged or found guilty of any crime. Where is the accountability of the licencing agency passing judgement on who should or should not receive a licence, based on what? Whatever happened to the notion of “innocent until proven guilty”? The Habitat and town treatment of me in Jasper is more akin to a witch-hunt.

This denial of busking permit was not the only shutting-out of me since June 2016. Canada Day gig was cancelled, and Parks Canada prohibited me from playing at their music nights, all due to protests being threatened. Don’t we have a police force to keep the peace? I am banned from the Legion of all places – haven’t we been told that the veterans fought for freedoms, including freedom of speech? Public declarations were made by at least one prominent individual that Monika Schaefer is not welcome in Jasper. Does that kind of public declaration not pose a potential danger to me? What shameful behaviour in a country that boasts freedom of speech!

More to the point of this letter, what exactly do my political and historical views have to do with playing music in the streets? NOTHING!

Should the busking permit not be more appropriately based on performing ability? I have proven myself many times over in that capacity, judging by all the requests to play my violin at fundraisers over the years and decades in Jasper.

I obviously broke a sacred taboo. Never question the singular event known as “The Holocaust”. Even if the official historiography has changed many times over the decades, and even if the so-called holocaust historians themselves have admitted many lies, for example the soap, shrunken heads and lampshades, even if, if, if…, one may not question anything about this event! This makes it a religious dogma. Take note of 2(a) of the Canadian Charter above, freedom of conscience and religion. Take note of 2(b), freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication.


The following url leads you to one person’s intervention on my behalf.

I know that there were many letters by others as well. Some of those were copied to town council, some were only sent to Dave Baker. Some were copied to me, and some were not. Many were supportive of me, and undoubtedly some were not. Yet others may have posed as being supportive, but were in fact undermining me by throwing in some kind of poison pill such as profanity or insults. That is a strategy that is used by agents or trolls who do not support the cause. I have learnt many things in the last few months about how these things work.

Who knows if Dave Baker gathered and compiled the letters of intervention or not? Those which were not copied to others could easily have been dismissed and ended up in the trash. We have no idea of accountability. Nevertheless, I am quite sure that you are aware that many people from far and wide wrote in support of me, and are watching what happens in this little “Gingerbread Town” of Jasper. Yes, we live in a nice little fairy tale town. Folks don’t like anybody to rock the boat, as they might get wet.

Busking Pilot Project Trial

Sometime between August 16th and 19th, you responded to Anthony Hall’s third letter of intervention on my behalf. It was a short letter which did not specifically address any of the issues that Anthony Hall raised, nor is my name mentioned. Here is the contents of the letter as a reminder, and for the councillors to review.

Dear Anthony James,

Thank you for your email, your detailed comments about the busking pilot project are appreciated.

The 2016 Busking Pilot Project is intended to trial busking in Jasper and gain community feedback, this is the second summer that busking has been tested in the Municipality of Jasper. The 2016 summer busking pilot project was set for three locations in town and will end soon with the coming of fall.

Upon completion of the 2016 busking pilot project we will survey the community with specific questions about the busking pilot project. The survey results will be combined with feedback such as yours received through the summer about the challenges, successes and issues experienced during the trial run of busking in Jasper. The results will then be presented to Mayor and Council for direction.


Mark Fercho

Chief Administrative Officer

Municipality of Jasper

I wonder what kind of questions you are seeking answers for when you solicit feedback. Are you asking for the musician’s ideas on politics or history? Or might you be asking more relevant questions such as those suggested in Anthony Hall’s letter of August 19, 2016:

1. Did the residents enjoy the presence of music in the streets?

2. Did the visitors enjoy this new cultural feature in the Jasper town centre?

3. How did the buskers themselves feel about the venues presented to them, including the three fixed busking locations?

4. Were businesses adversely affected, or did they profit from an increase in customer traffic in the town centre?

5. Did regulated busking contribute to keeping visitors in town longer, adding to Jasper’s financial activity?

When is this survey to take place? Who is designing the survey? Or is it simply a compilation of feedback already garnered? Who is being targeted for questioning? Who is it accountable to? Will it be public and transparent?

Request to Speak

I am asking for an opportunity to address council, in a regular council meeting. It is my request as a 35-year long resident of Jasper no less, to speak to these issues, and have it be put on the public record.

thank you,

Monika Schaefer

Monika Schaefer Denied A Busking Permit Because of Her ‘Non-inclusive” Ideas

Monika Schaefer Denied A Busking Permit Because of Her ‘Non-inclusive” Ideas
Don’t worry if you missed the witch hunts of the 17th century, you can catch the same type of intolerant hysteria in Alberta this summer.. Move over, Salem, Massachusetts, there’s a new witch hunting hotbed and that’s Jasper, Alberta.
Don’t be fooled by all the politically correct prattle about cherishing “diversity” and “inclusiveness”. That inclusiveness does not extend to diversity of opinion.
Back in June environmentalist and violin teacher Monika Schaefer posted a You Tube  — apologizing to her parents, now deceased, for having berated them, as a teenager, for not having done something to stop the so-called holocaust. They explained they had not known about it. In 2014, this inquiring, freethinker came to realize that the story hammered into Europeans by 71 years of relentless propaganda was substantially false. The video has gone viral, with over 70,000 hits. However, repression was swift to follow.
Miss Schaefer had lobbied town council to permit busking — musicians playing music — saxophone, guitar, banjo, or, in her case, violin — on public sidewalks and inviting contributions from passersby. This Spring council agreed. Hers was the first application and, on July 23, she received a stunning rejection from one Dave Baker, Director of Habitat for the Arts.
“We have considered your application for a busking permit in Jasper. In light of your recently publicly proclaimed non-inclusive beliefs we have decided to decline a permit to you at this time….Please see the attached Values and Principles statement.” 
One struggles to grasp Baker’s meaning.. Yes, one understands he doesn’t like Monika’s views. But what do her views on WW II have to do with her playing the violin. She has frequently volunteered for benefits and has been a generous and giving member of the Jasper community for 35 years. “Non-inclusive views” — what does that mean? Almost any opinion is non-inclusive: if you support the Blue Jays, you reject the Yankees and the Orioles. If you are pro-Conservative, you reject the Liberals and the NDP. Perhaps, actions may be inclusive. Monika will play for ALL passersby. In fact, she is inclusive.

Miss Baker recalls: “As soon as I left the call, I found the offending email in my inbox from the “Habitat for the Arts” in which they told me that because of my “publicly proclaimed non-inclusive beliefs”, they declined my request for a busking license. So my spidy senses from the encounter the day before had been correct. Irony of ironies, not only because I was at the forefront of getting busking to be legal in Jasper, but also because I have been playing my violin in this town for decades, donating my time and music to countless fundraisers, community functions, old-age home, hospital, you name it, I have donated my music to them. Now that I speak in a way that they deem politically incorrect, I cannot go busking, just when it is finally permitted! It is also important to note that I have NEVER used my “violin stage” as a “soap box” to pontificate about political issues. Never. Sometimes I think I should have, but I didn’t.

Parks Canada has been hosting a little music/culture event twice a week open to everybody, tourist and local alike, right downtown in the old  firehall space. A close friend of mine, Marie-Helene is the host. She invited me to participate and so I have been doing that. I was really happy to do it, just to make a point that I am still playing and volunteering, showing my face in public, and of course all the tourists love it. Already last week Marie-Helene told me that Parks had a complaint about me being there and the complainant declared that they should not let me participate. Marie-Helene told me that she had firmly insisted with her boss that she was taking 100% responsibility for me being there, and her boss agreed, they could not stop me from being there. 

Well, today I got the call from the boss, and she told me that a certain person (who remains anonymous) was threatening a protest at the event if I was there, so the boss told me that now it is all about the program, they don’t want to have a spoiled program. I agreed not to attend this week, but I made no promises for future events. I said I needed to think. Again, this is small town, and the stress right now is big.” 

Many Canadians, including CAFE fired off e-mails to Mr. Baker urging him to get off the witch-hunt band wagon and reconsider his thought control banning of Monika.
Inline image 1
However, Baker continues to want to silence Miss Schaefer. She explains:

Dear Dave,

Thank you very much for showing me yesterday exactly where you stand on the issue of my busking permit. Before having finally seen you face-to-face for the first time this summer, I had given you the benefit of the doubt. I believed that surely someone else is whispering in your ear, giving you direction. I believed that, because I did not recognize the Dave Baker that I have known since many years, in the curt email which you sent on 23rd July 2016, quoted here:

“We have considered your application for a busking permit in Jasper. In light of your recently publicly proclaimed non-inclusive beliefs we have decided to decline a permit to you at this time….Please see the attached Values and Principles statement.” 

The hostility with which you treated me yesterday, at the “soft opening” of the new library-and-arts facility, gave me quite a clear picture. It became much more obvious to me that it must indeed be you who has made the decision to arbitrarily deny me a busking permit. Your attitude was belligerent and quite frankly, cowardly.

 “You – already – have – the – only – answer – that – you – will – get.” 

Screen Shot 2016-08-07 at 3.31.00 PM

You and I have been generous with each other and with the community in the countless endeavours that we have participated in and shared over the years. Is that all forgotten? It seems you have left your humanity behind.

You have designated yourself judge, jury, prosecutor, and enforcer all at once, on a spurious assumption that I am guilty of a crime, when in fact I am acting in good conscience to rectify past wrongs. My actions are based on my new understanding that the Hollywood version of history we have been taught is indeed full of factual errors.

You made it perfectly clear that answers are not forthcoming to my two questions which I asked in my email of August 1st quoted here:

“There has been a stunning silence from you since the cursory email you sent me on July 23rd, 2016 … I am wondering who you are accountable to, and who the “we” refers to in your (original) message to me. These are two very important questions and I expect that you will be forthcoming with an answer to these…. Monika”

I asked those questions again yesterday, peacefully and in person, and you repeatedly told me “I will not discuss this here, I will not discuss this now. This is a sacred place.” So I asked when and where? When would the answers be coming? Could we set up a meeting please? You then told me point blank “You – already – have – the – only – answer – that – you – will – get.” 

I see… final judgement has been made, and the proverbial jail key has been tossed out.

My first question was about accountability. I received a partial answer from the cover of this week’s Fitzhugh newspaper. The caption under the front-page picture of happy buskers says “Music in the Streets… thanks to a new pilot-project between the municipality and Habitat for the Arts.” For that reason I am sending this to all the town councillors and mayor, as they have a role to play in this. Are they also playing the role of thought police?

The Habitat “Values and Principles” statement is very good. The second paragraph follows (emphases mine), to show the absurdity of your accusation of “non-inclusive beliefs” against me. I contend it is you who is being non-inclusive.

We believe that learning never stops
We know it enhances social inclusion, active citizenship and personal development. 
We embrace new challenges and ideas.
We welcome new methods and change. 
We help each other grow through knowledge exchange and support.

Dave Baker, since you do not want to talk with me, then you simply become part of the wider story. My ‘bcc’ list is growing ever larger, as more and more people from around the world are taking an interest in this story. It is beginning to look like this pretty little town in a National Park and a World Heritage Site is becoming a leader in the totalitarian anti-free-speech direction that Canada is taking.


Monika Schaefer