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Dogwood Monarchist Society divided

'This group does not have any respect for the past': founder tells meeting

 A raucous annual general meeting of the Dogwood Monarchist Society (DMS) revealed a charitable organization divided by conflict on April 11.

The DMS needs to return to its roots to regain its standing in the community, said lifetime member and drag court founder ted northe.

“This group does not have any respect for the past,” northe said to jeers from other members. “The community at large… does not have any respect for this court.”

The meeting at The Odyssey was divided on most issues before it, right down to whether or not the meeting itself was valid.

One if not more of the three requirements in the DMS’ bylaws for notifying members of an upcoming annual general meeting had not been met.

Although Empress XXXVIII Iona Whip posted a notice about the meeting on the society’s Facebook page on April 2, the society’s bylaws state that notice must be given 14 days before an annual general meeting.

The DMS has been an integral part of Vancouver’s gay community for decades.

It was incorporated in 1976, and documents filed with the Registrar of Companies in Victoria show the society passing a resolution on its constitution papers on June 11, 1980. It received a Society Act certificate on March 3, 1982, and last altered its bylaws by resolution on May 12, 2009, which it registered in Victoria on Jan 7.

Sunday’s annual general meeting revealed differences of opinion regarding, among other things, the role of the DMS’ board versus its executive.

According to DMS bylaws, the board deals with upholding the society’s reputation, dealing with international drag court counterparts, safeguarding capital assets including regalia, bestowing honours and providing direction to the executive where needed.

Former emperors and empresses inducted into the College of Monarchs sit on the board.

Meanwhile, the executive – elected annually by all DMS members – is charged with running the day-to-day affairs of the society.

The executive consists of a president, vice-president, treasurer, secretary and two co-chairs. The last two positions are occupied by the reigning emperor and empress.

Some DMS members would like to see members of the board sit on the executive as well, to help ease the transition from reign to reign.

Former Empress Joan-E said both the board and the executive are needed.

“If there’s a problem with the way things are being done, the board would step in,” she explained.

About an hour into the annual general meeting, longtime DMS member Jamie Lee Hamilton asked for the meeting to be declared invalid due to the meeting notice issue, and any decisions already made disallowed.

Incoming Dean of the College of Monarchs Steve Lobsinger (Emperor XXXIII) asked for a motion to adjourn and for another general meeting to be called.

It’s not known when the meeting will reconvene.

When it does, the members still need to discuss at least one agenda item left unaddressed: the possible expulsion of a member.

At one point, Lobsinger called on members to end a loud debate over who was owed respect.

But his request did not end the shouting between members such as northe, Joan-E and former Empress DeDe Drew, who continued to yell at each other across The Odyssey.

“There have always been disagreements but we have managed to pull together and pull people together,” Drew commented earlier.

“Our job primarily is to be here for Vancouver, its residents and its allies,” Drew added.

Before the bickering began, the treasurers reported that the DMS had one of its most successful years for donations to community charities in almost two decades.

Those donations included $850 to Friends For Life Society; $5,749 to Qmunity for The Generations Project; $6,534 to Out In Schools; and $5,749 to the Health Initiative for Men.

Out in Schools will also receive $784 raised during Mathew Sheppard Month.

The society had revenues of $39,553 for the year, including $20,107 listed as donations in the reign of Empress Iona Whip and Emperor Mike Murrell.

The cost of this year’s coronation was $15,498 on revenues of $18,898.

That cost included flying Empress Nicole the Great Queen Mother of the Americas in from San Diego, California and putting her up at a hotel.

Those costs are borne by the DMS in accordance with the protocols of the International Court System.

But, the financial statements show, it was the DMS that paid for Iona Whip and Murrell to attend coronations in Regina and Winnipeg in 2009.

The bylaws state that each DMS executive co-chair may have one paid trip per year.