Black History Month Spotlight: Viola Desmond

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As we continue to celebrate Black History Month, this week, we shed light on a historic Black Canadian figure. Viola Desmond was born and raised in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She initially trained to become a teacher but decided to change career paths. She was a successful businesswoman who owned a barbershop and hairdressing salon business in partnership with her husband, Jack Desmond. In the midst of her business’ expansion, Viola left for New Glasgow, Nova Scotia in 1946 to pursue a brighter future for her business.

It is in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia where Viola Desmond makes a name for herself as one of the most influential and remarkable people – especially as a woman – during times of segregation between Blacks and Whites. Viola Desmond innocently went to the movie theatres one night in New Glasgow and decided to take a seat in the main floor of the theatre. Unbeknownst to her, this specific theatre had specific tickets for African Canadians – who should be seated in the balcony area – and White Canadians – who may be seated in the main floor of the theatre, where the movie can be better seen. Upon being asked to leave her seat and relocate to the segregated seat she was intended to sit in, she refused. The police were called and Viola Desmond was charged without being advised of her right, ending in her spending the night in jail.

The following morning, she paid the fine of $20 for the alleged crime and was charged with defrauding the Government of Nova Scotia with the difference in tax between a ground floor ticket at the movie theatres and a balcony seat ticket. The difference amounted to approximately one cent.

Desmond courageously decided to fight the charges against her, understanding that the issue was not surrounding around the idea that it was tax evasion, but rather, inherently racist. Viola Desmond took the case to court, where she was able to gain public opinion on the matter both locally in her own community, nationally, and internationally. This issue raised significant awareness on segregation within Canada.

Viola Desmond’s arrest quickly caught the attention of the Black Canadian community. The Nova Scotia Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NSAACP) raised money to per her fine and help her to fight against her charges. Carrie best – the founder of Nova Scotia’s first Black owned and operated newspaper, publicized her story in order to truly amplify her message and spread awareness.

As a result of the garnered attention generated by Demond’s case, the government of Nova Scotia had no choice but to eliminate segregation laws. In 1954, the government completed repealed them.

This was quite a significant turning point in the history of segregation within Canada as it revealed and exposed the fact that segregation was still real and alive within Canadian borders. At that time, there was a notion that Canada was the safest place for Black people who are being racially discriminated and segregated internationally to go to. Canada was put on a pedestal for being “free of segregation and racial discrimination,” when in reality, such practices were still very much alive and not eradicated. This event urged the Canadian community – who was expected to be an ally in the Black Civil Rights Movement – to take corrective action and implement more inclusive and culturally-aware laws and policies into legislation. It significantly sparked the wave of Canadian Black Civil Rights movement, urging Canadians to explore, expose, and correct issues surrounding racism and racial discrimination within our own borders.

This event truly catapulted Canada’s policies and legislations towards a more progressive and inclusive direction. The Canadian government began consciously implementing more diverse, multicultural, and inclusive laws in the years to follow that incorporates Black Canadians into Canadian culture as valued members of society. As a result of the corrective action that followed after this event, Canadian people adopted a more culturally aware, inclusive, and diverse ideology about race. The issue of racism was brought to the forefront of social justice issues and light was being shed on racial discrimination as being very much so present in Canadian society, contrary to popular opinion.

This event ignited a very important movement in Canadian society. It sparked the discussion and the need for action towards a society that is built on a foundation of diversity and multiculturalism. Viola Desmond remains an influential historical figure in Canadian history who, despite how little her action back then may have seemed, took an action that is not only significant but extremely powerful.

Resources:

http://www.blackhistorycanada.ca/profiles.php?themeid=20&id=13

http://www.digitaljournal.com/print/article/249537

http://canada.metropolis.net/EVENTS/ethnocultural/publications/historical.pdf

#OscarsSoWhite – Black History Month

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In honour of February being Black History Month – a time where we celebrate Black culture, shed light on and stand in solidarity with the Black community on Black issues, and recognize the strength and resilience of the Black community and its history – I thought it would be prudent to talk about a recent issue on hand that is affecting the Black community.

#OscarsSoWhite

For those of you out of the loop with Hollywood-related issues, or simply for those of you who don’t know, there has been significant controversy surrounding the annual Academy Awards Ceremony. The Academy Awards (“Oscars”) has been a night of celebration and recognition of actors, actresses, directors, producers, and motion pictures. It has been an opportunity to acknowledge the success of such people and such projects and has been a way to encourage the film industry to continue producing quality creative content for its viewers.

I would like to say that this issue is recent but if we’re being quite honest, this has been an issue for several years. That issue being: There is a significant lack of diversity in Hollywood, especially, the Academy Awards. #OscarsSoWhite is a campaign initiated to urge the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to be more inclusive in their acknowledgements and recognitions. It is a movement for diversification and equity – it is a movement to urge a very influential platform to facilitate an industry that accurately represents its target audience. This year – quite similar to last year – all 20 actors who have been nominated for lead and supporting acting categories are white. Significantly “Black” films are only recognized for a white actor within that film.

For example: Creed, whereby Michael B. Jordan (a black actor) was the lead role throughout the whole movie as he played Apollo Creed’s son, is only being recognized for Sylvestor Stallone (a white actor) and its screenwriters who also happen to be white, Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff. It seems quite ludicrous that a movie where a black actor is the clear lead throughout the entire movie is not being acknowledged, but his white co-star is being recognized, as well as the movie’s white screenwriters.

To give you even more context, in the last 88 years that the Academy Awards have been an established industry, only 14 black actors have actually won an Oscar, one of them being Lupita Nyong’o for her role in 12 Years a Slave. Only 5 Latina actors have one in the last 88 years as well and quite disappointingly, only one Indigenous acting winner (Ben Johnson for his role in The Last Picture Show in 1972). Furthermore, the Academu Awards Industry is made up of 94% white voters and 77% males.

It has always been clear that movies have misrepresented minorities for so many years. You have white actors playing black/Asian/Latino/Indigenous people. You have a predominantly white industry who is seemingly in charge of whether or not you get recognized for the hard work that you do, and will no doubt have a bias for their own kind. You have a completely un-diverse industry who is only willing to shed light on “white excellence” while Black excellence takes a back seat. It’s backwards, it’s completely un-progressive, and it’s disheartening to be misrepresented and unrecognized on such a public and popular platform.

Change has to start. This is such an influential platform and the more we emphasize visibility and diversification, the more society will mimic such ways and adopt such ideologies. We have to challenge white dominance and privilege, which seems such a strange thing to say in 2016, but don’t think for a second that we’ve overcome racism just because it’s not as apparent and “in your face” as it was in the 50s. We have come a long way but there is so much more work to do. I encourage you to look into the #OscarsSoWhite issue; get educated and be aware. Stand in solidarity with one another and fight for what’s right. This is so much more than movies at this point; this is about equity and unification as a global society.

Will you be boycotting the Oscars this year? #OscarsSoWhite

Resource: http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/movies/2016/02/02/oscars-academy-award-nominations-diversity/79645542/

The Power of Student Journalism

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Ryerson University has one of the best journalism programs, with many graduates going on to work for large publications such as the Toronto Star and Globe and Mail.  With such an incredible program, it comes as no surprise that our campus has two school newspapers: The Eyeopener and The Ryersonian.  Student newspapers offer journalism students an amazing opportunity to write features, conduct interviews, and be an editor, practice photography, report on events and everything that goes with the operations of a newspaper.

While student newspapers are an excellent source of learning, this learning cannot come at the expense of the subjects of their stories.  There have been a few incidents lately that have raised some red flags as they have gone beyond students simply learning how to be journalists and waded into the territory of having serious and negative impacts on peoples’ lives.  As the saying goes, “with great power comes great responsibility”.

I’m all for student learning; as a social work student, I complete two placements where I’m able to learn social work skills necessary for my career.  I appreciate having a space to try things out, make mistakes and be able to try again.  I have and will continue to make mistakes throughout my placement and career.  This is why I can appreciate the position students working and writing for student newspapers are in; we are all students and everyone is learning.  I become less understanding of this when mistakes are made that are based in pure insensitivity and carelessness.

This type of mistake occurred during the coverage of the Ghomeshi trial this week.  When I arrived on campus the afternoon the trial began, I learned that one of the school newspapers had tweeted the names of the victims whose names are under a publication ban.  While this is a mistake by a student who is learning, this could have serious and negative consequences for those women.  There’s a publication ban in place for a reason and tweeting their names is an invasion of their right to privacy and anonymity in the public’s eye during a sexual assault trial.  I don’t know the legalities of breaking a publication ban but I’m assuming there are consequences.  While these students may say “oops”, delete the tweet, take it as a lesson learned and carry on, that tweet could impact those women in negative ways.  Our student media may have just disclosed the sexual violence someone has experienced to a family member, friend, colleague, boss, neighbour, etc.  This is further complicated in that Ghomeshi yields a lot of power due to his celebrity which means a high profile trial.  Consequences from that tweet could reach far and wide in that persons’ life; this cannot simply be treated as a beginners’ mistake.

This semester, I experienced a student error that could potentially have serious and negative impacts.  I was recently interviewed for a story on unpaid internships by one of the student newspapers.  I discussed my experiences of having a disability and completing a lot of unpaid placement hours; when asked what my disability was, I disclosed I have a brain injury as I did not want it to be misconstrued or misrepresented.  I’m not sure what happened between my interview and the publication of the article but the newspaper printed that I have mental health issues.  How would I disclose this in an interview if that is not a lived experience I have?  Fortunately, the newspaper edited the online version and printed a correction but that’s a pretty big mistake.  Considering the stigma attached to mental health issues and that my experiences were presented as representative of students with lived experience, I’m extremely lucky I have not had any negative consequences thus far.  I was extremely concerned considering I have been very vocal about men’s rights and issues groups which often discredit feminist and women’s voices by claiming they are “mentally ill”.  These types of mistakes cannot be brushed off as expected errors in learning; they need to be addressed and there needs to be some accountability.  While the Editor of the newspaper apologized several times, I still have not heard from the reporter who interviewed me and wrote the article.

This year, I’ve had a lot more interactions with campus media as I began co-organizing the Ryerson Feminist Collective.  We have been interviewed on a number of topics including our initial solidarity with U of T event, the men’s issues group at Ryerson, meninists, body hair, self-love for racialized and immigrant women, our Take Back the Campus event, masculinity, the RSU, etc.  I’ve had some really great experiences with student journalists at Ryerson; great interviews, great questions and discussion, well-written articles and no one has spelt my name wrong yet.  Student journalists have been very respectful about my safety concerns regarding some of the issues I have been interviewed about and have waited after events to interview me when I would be most comfortable.  I’m still friends with Dylan Freeman-Grist, who wrote the amazing first article about the Ryerson Feminist Collective when we formed in September.  A student journalist I recently met even helped me with this blog, which I really appreciate.

Student newspapers have made errors that could have negative impacts and this needs to be addressed but I also want to talk about the student journalists who are doing amazing work.  This is who should be recognized for their work and contributions to campus life.  The students working at both campus newspapers work very hard at their jobs (I hear they are on campus until 2:30 am some days) while taking full course loads, working outside jobs and still managing to have a social life.  The stories are always interesting and they are always reporting on current student news.  The work of these journalists should be recognized and highlighted for other students to learn from to avoid mistakes that could potentially be harmful.

While mistakes in student learning are inevitable, errors that can be extremely harmful need to be addressed.  This can be done by having those who make mistakes take accountability for them and also having a good understanding of the power student journalists hold.  What you write could change someone’s life and I think this is an important lesson to take into any field, including journalism.

Want to Come Up to My Room?

Style & Profile by Chinedu Ukabam

Style & Profile by Chinedu Ukabam

Since 2004 the rooms at the Gladstone Hotel have played host to some of Canada’s leading artists in alternative design. Every year for a few days three floors of the Gladstone give up their space and are transformed into a place that engages our sense, our memories, and our perceptions of reality. Each room is given to an artist and they create a site-specific, immersive installation that stimulates the imagination and encourages discussion. For the 13th edition of Come Up to My Room (CUTMR) Ryerson’s School of Image Arts and the School of Interior Design both had installations that captured and filled the room.

ripple teardrop

Ripple by Ryerson School of Image Arts

Ryerson Artspace is a student and faculty run gallery within the Gladstone Hotel that is curated and programmed by the School of Image Arts. Artspace has been a venue for contemporary Canadian film, photography, and digital arts for the last 24 years and this year the students created a ripple. As part of CUTMR the students at Artspace created an installation that looked at the notion of how we can achieve more together than alone, that we all create a ripple effect with our actions. The installation itself is a giant collective instrument that participants control with the tug of a light bulb, or raindrop, hanging from the ceiling. The darkened gallery was filled with light bulbs hanging down from the ceiling each one tied to its own individual sound, like the keys of a piano. Except this piano had many players who could work together to create a melody or let unique sounds morph into their own chaotic composition. What began as a prototype for the Digital Tools class as part of the Architectural Science program, Ripple, has become a real installation that encourages movement of the whole body and creates a collective harmony out of different lights, sounds, and movements.

RippleI came across Ripple late in the evening, it was actually as I was leaving the Love Design Party. I knew that it was showing but I couldn’t seem to find it and with all the other rooms to see I had a lot to go through (getting trapped in a line up for the Ferris Bueller room didn’t help). However, once I did find Ripple I realized how happy I was not to miss it. It was a very strange experience, flowing through the teardrops as brand new melodies and sounds constantly reverberate throughout the gallery and your body. With only the light from the teardrops I managed to make my way through the gallery, to pull on each one and listen for my own sound in the sea of music. I understood what the artists were portraying, how each of us has an effect, we can each add to the ripple by throwing our rock in the pond. However, what I also found was that sometimes our effect gets lost; the constant flow might wash out our ripple. We sometimes have to stop and listen, make sure that what we are doing is actually having the effect we want it to. If we can’t hear ourselves maybe we need to change our tune, take a different approach to have the effect we are after.

The School of Interior Design also had an installation, which was one of the first rooms I stumbled upon. Partnered with UUfie, an architecture and design practice based in Toronto, Catherine Farrell and Nisha Sewell of Ryerson created Breath, along with Katherine Porter from the Rhode Island School of Design. This installation explored the ideas of deception and limitlessness in its arrangement of tactile space. This installation was supposed to create a dialogue about making and designing, like time flowing in space, an instance of a breath. I think this project was a little over-my-head but the implementation worked which can be hard to manage in instances like these. Often artistic endeavors sound and look great on paper or in your mind, but creation is a difficult feat.

Untitled (Idolization Space) by Sara Nickelson and Studio WOOLF

Untitled (Idolization Space) by Sara Nickelson and Studio WOOLF

With over 20 artists showing and creating for CUTMR this year there is a lot to discuss, with that being said here are a few more rooms that caught my eye. Untitled (Idolization Space) looked at our obsession with visuals, which has been exacerbated by the Internet, allowing for little consideration for meaning over the immediacy of aesthetics. We crave stimulation and turn to social media for inspiration that provides an unending stream of imagery that has been removed from the text needed to interpret its meaning. The artist feels that since we are in a constant state of rapid input we reach an over-stimulation point that results in distraction and hyperactivity.

Life Moves Fast by The Racket Club

Life Moves Fast by The Racket Club

Life Moves Fast is a replication of Ferris Bueller’s bedroom from the film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The artists worked to replicate every detail from the film, the posters on the wall, the records on the bookshelf, and even the data on his computer screen, which was programmed to change the same way it did in the film. The artists loaned materials from museums and private individuals who still had some of the articles that appeared in this young man’s bedroom thirty years ago. This room immersed you into a familiar space that was at the same time foreign, it was distant in time and space but you could touch, feel, and hear the room and its fictional inhabitant. I think everyone relates to the title, life does move fast. The possessions in that room are relics of a time gone by just as this MacBook and I will be soon enough.

Equivalents by Susan Dobson and Simone Ferkul

Equivalents by Susan Dobson and Simone Ferkul

While I was walking between these rooms I got the sense that art and its meaning go unnoticed. Certainly not everyone was there to view these rooms for what they were, to understand what the artist wanted to say. It disappoints me because art can have so much power if you let it, to initiate change and shock your core values. But if you just walk by you are not allowing that art to inhabit your mind for a small period of time, to push you into a new room in your brain. Whatever the medium, art is something we cannot do without. Imagine not having any music, or not being able to tap your heels around your little apartment, or not being able to move and shape colour into new forms. Art is so immersed in our lives we don’t notice it; the clothes we wear, the buildings we live in, the music that constantly fills our background, and so many more ways. Take a minute to notice the art around you; even something with function is art. Don’t just walk on by.

Overworld by Taxa Work

Overworld by Taxa Work

I’m still in the dark but I’ve left the theatre…

I must start out by saying that I am neither a film student nor a film critic, I do enjoy films though (that counts, right?). I recently attended the premier of the film When the Ice Goes Out at Ryerson’s School of Image Arts. This is a film by Jeremy Leach and Wendy Snyder MacNeil, both accomplished artists in their fields in the United States. Leach is a freelance filmmaker and a directory of photography and has worked on several award winning television programs and documentaries. Leach is also the founder of the production company Lost City Pictures which produced this film and several other independent films and educational media. MacNeil began her career as a photographer before switching to film-making for which she has been recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. MacNeil’s photos and films are also currently showing until April 10 as The Light Inside exhibition at the Ryerson Image Centre in association with When the Ice Goes Out. The film stars Gore Abrams as the main character Jakob and Jazimina MacNeil as his childhood friend Cedar. Now to the film itself.

The premise of the film is of a young man’s journey alone back to his childhood imaginary sanctuary. His life has fallen away, he has no apparent relationships or interests, and all that remains is a desire for what he had as a child. We know nothing of Jeremy’s world, we know that he and Cedar live in the same rooming house and that she refuses to see him so he must watch her from a far and live with the pain of a life in alienation. The film documents Jakob’s trip back to where he came from and his search for a world that never existed. Jeremy must travel through harsh nature and face his ghosts to make it back to where he, at one time, was happy. There is no dialogue so the film relies on natural sounds and imagery to tell the story and move the plot, this is also where the name comes from. The thawing of ice makes a deep rumbling and crackling sound which permeates the film. Now what did I think?

I am not a lover of independent films or much of a viewer I must admit. However, as part of an initiative to include more arts and culture into my diet I chose to go to this film screening. Unfortunately, I cannot say that this film piqued my interest in independent films, in fact it may have killed it. I enjoy the use of symbolism and imagery to tell parts of a story but it is very difficult to sit through 80 minutes of dry and slow filming with no dialogue and no idea of any story. I felt the viewer was kept out of the story, kept out of Jakob’s life. We are not allowed to enter Jakob’s journey, we are only allowed to view it from a far. We have no idea where he is going, what he is thinking, what he is doing, or why he is doing it. This leaves us not knowing what to feel because we don’t know Jakob or understand his actions, he is not relatable; I felt nothing but pity for Jakob, perhaps that’s all I was supposed to feel. The film was stripped bare so we are left with sound and imagery and no real story, merely a peak into something that cannot be made sense of until the artist explains it. Leach stated that originally there was a lot of dialogue and a story was developed but it was taken out on purpose. Leach did not give much of an explanation as to why but I feel that perhaps this was done to reinforce the loneliness and isolation of Jakob, he’s even alienated by us. This is an issue I have with the film, why I am left to explain and create the story? This film was a collection of symbols that were strung together with no connectors but a vague framework that was so flimsy it could be knocked over with a feather. This film could have been about anything, we only know it was about a journey to return to childhood because we are told so by the director. The film cannot stand on its own, it needs the support of its creators to give it life and a reason for existence, to make sense of it.

I cannot say for sure why this film was created or what it was intended to do, it is also not my place to answer those questions. Perhaps there is no reason for the film. Art doesn’t need a reason to exist. I can say that it left me confused, disappointed, and wanting. I can also say the only entertainment I derived from watching this film was trying to figure out what was happening and why, which can be pretty fun when you are trapped in the dark both actually and figuratively. If I was forced to watch this film again I would probably fall asleep like the man down the aisle did and jump out of my seat and out the door during the credits as another viewer did. However, I won’t let this film stop me from seeing the Light Inside exhibit as MacNeil’s photographic talents and prowess are put to fantastic use in this film.

Welcome, Winter 2016 Term!

Welcome back, Ryerson! Today marks the first day of the Winter 2016 term. We hope that you are well rested, relaxed, and rejuvenated from a well-deserved break.

Now that a new semester has begun, we face a fresh start to the remainder of the academic year. We take all that we learned in the previous semester, and take steps towards improving ourselves as students. Perhaps last semester, we learned that procrastinating on a 7-10 page research essay may not be the best way to reduce stress and maximize efficiency. Perhaps we learned that having a diet that consists of 90% McDonald’s across the street from the SLC, and 10% RedBull whenever the RedBull guys come on campus and hand out free RedBull, is not the best diet to go with. Perhaps we learned that Yahoo Answers cannot solve this incredibly difficult question, and that maybe we should have taken advantage of the Professor’s office hours, especially with the exam tomorrow morning. Whatever we learned last semester, let’s use it to propel us forward towards becoming better students, and enhancing our academic performance.

At Ryerson, there are numerous ways in which we can accomplish this goal each semester. Fortunately for us Ryerson students, we are offered with a variety of different resources we can go to, in order to consult with people who can help us steer towards a better direction.

Here are a couple of Ryerson’s great learning sources!

Student Learning Support (SLS) At the Student Learning Centre (SLC)

Where: 4th Floor of the Student Learning Centre (SLC) Building

Who: An enthusiastic, intelligent, and interdisciplinary team of professionals from various backgrounds (i.e teaching, mentorship, coaching, etc) dedicated to helping students develop their academic skills

What: A variety of services and programs offered to students at Ryerson aimed towards helping students develop valuable academic and study skills, in order to improve the communication and application of their intelligence

Why: To improve your academic skills, boost your confidence as a student, improve numeracy/literacy/communication skills, and overcome academic barriers

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Tri-Mentoring Program

Where: POD-50

Who: A team of senior level students from a variety of different program backgrounds, matched with first year students in their respective programs, eager to provide guidance, mentorship, and leadership

What: A program at Ryerson University to facilitate the learning and development of students, especially incoming students, through mentorship, learning support, and leadership

Why: Entering university for the first time can be overwhelming and first year students often have a lot of questions and concerns. They can seek answers, guidance, friendship, and support from senior level students in their respective programs that have been in their position before, and learn from what they have done through their insights and experiences!

TriMentoringDube-web

If you are looking for guidance or support at all this upcoming semester, I hope you get a chance to take a look at these great resources. These are only a couple out of a lot of learning resources that Ryerson has to offer so look around and see what works for you!

We, here, at the Faculty of Community Serivces Student Life Blog, wish you all a wonderful and successful Winter 2016 term! Good luck and all the best.

3 New Year’s Resolutions for Ryerson Students

It’s that exciting time of the year… the official last day of 2015! Tomorrow, not only do we welcome a new day, but a new year – the first day of 2016! 2015 has been such a big year for so many of us, and with the near year staring us straight square in the face, we look forward to making 2016 even better than 2015.

During this time of the year is when the infamous “New Year’s Resolutions” begin to be concocted. These New Year’s Resolutions are meant to outline our goals for the upcoming year, with the intent to stick by them no matter what. These resolutions are generally goals towards self-improvement. Some popular ones are include:

“Get healthier.”
“Save more money.”
“Stop procrastinating.”
“Cut down on coffee.”
“Sleep earlier.”

While the above-mentioned resolutions are wonderful resolutions, they are typically difficult to maintain unless you have discipline made of steel. Many of us are mere humans who make mistakes here and there that veer us off-track from our resolutions, and we find ourselves just neglecting and forgetting them altogether. In my opinion, New Year’s Resolutions should be two things: Specific and Realistic. They should be specific enough to fit your personal goals and aspirations, and it helps to really narrow your focus on what you can do to really achieve these goals. They should be realistic enough so that you’re not asking too much of yourself and you won’t be overly-stressed out or feel overly-pressured if unable to achieve them.

Therefore, with these criteria in mind, I have created for you a list of New Year’s Resolutions that hopefully resonate with you more and you are able to hopefully stick to in 2016:

3 NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS FOR RYERSON STUDENTS

1. DO NOT BE SO TRUSTING OF THE TTC OR GO TRANSIT
Think you can wake up at 7:00am because it only takes you 15 minutes to get ready, takes you 10 minutes to get to the station, and the train/subway/bus comes at exactly 7:30am every morning? Think again. If you’re a first year student who is still learning the ropes when it comes to commuting, and you currently have this mentality, you’re in for a rude awakening. The TTC or GO TRANSIT, although extremely helpful and necessary, have a knack for being quite unreliable when it comes to being on time. Don’t assume that you will have a smooth commute, free of delays or late arrivals each day. Do yourself a favour and wake up earlier in order to arrive at your station earlier so you don’t miss that 8am exam worth 40% of your grade. It may suck but you know what else sucks? Missing an 8am exam worth 40% of your grade because your subway was experiencing delays.

2. TRY TO AVOID THE TEMPTATION OF THE EATON CENTRE ASKING YOU TO BLOW YOUR MONEY THERE RATHER THAN GO TO CLASS
Going to school in Downtown Toronto is all kinds of fantastic – and also forces you to face all kinds of temptation. That being said, Ryerson University’s prime location gives you access to absolutely everything, including one of Canada’s largest and most popular malls, The Eaton Centre. There’s nothing more tempting than it finally being pay day, but you’ve got a class that day, and walking past Eaton Centre with “SALE” signs on the window. This kind of excitement is enough to get your blood pumping. But if you knew what was good for you, you’d repeat this mantra: “You don’t need another Roots sweater. You do need to pass this class. You don’t need another Roots sweater. You do need to pass this class. You don’t need another Roots sweater. You do need to pass this class.

3. GET OFF YOUR PHONE WHEN YOU’RE WALKING DOWN YONGE ST, YONGE & DUNDAS SQ – OR ANY STREET FOR THAT MATTER
It’s 2016 and communication and human interaction is at it’s highest. Unfortunately, the form of communication that 99.9% of the population resorts to nowadays any form that our cellphones allow us – SMS, iMessage, WhatsApp, etc. It’s hard not to have our phones in our hands, heads down, eyes on the screen, and responding to everyone and everything 24/7. When you’re a Ryerson student, this is especially difficult when you’re trying to get to class and having to weave through the hundreds and thousands of people in Downtown Toronto each day. You’re risk for running into things is already increased by going to school in Canada’s major city alone – you’re only increasing your own risk by texting while walking. Do yourself and others around you a favour – wait until you get to the SLC to reply to that text or check that email. Keep your head up when you’re crossing the Yonge & Dundas Sq intersection. Let’s start a new campaign this 2016: Ryerson Students Against Text-Walking. Let’s make it happen, people.

With that being said, I’m sure you can think of tons more. I sincerely hope you’ll take these three into consideration when coming up with your own New Year’s resolutions. Let us know how you get on throughout the year. If you stick to them and achieve your resolutions – fantastic! You’re on the road to success. If you slip up a little bit and veer off track – it’s never too late to get back on track! You, too, are on the road to success.

Most of all, I hope you have a wonderful 2016 filled with health, happiness, success, and love. Stay safe this New Year’s Eve and enjoy yourselves!

Happy New Year and let’s make 2016 a great one!

Good bye, Fall 2015 Semester – Hello, Relaxation!

Today is the big day – the final day of exams and the official last day of the Fall 2015 semester! Congratulations to all students – and staff – who have made it this far and put in their hard work and effort throughout the semester. Hopefully all of the stress was worth it and you’re able to rest easy knowing you gave this semester your best shot. With all of the struggles we all went through this semester, I’d say that we’re more than ready for a well-deserved break. Lucky for us, this day marks the first day of this well-deserved break and we can finally put the stresses of this past semester behind us. This Holiday season is a time of rest and relaxation for a lot of students – and maybe even a little bit of fun! If you’re in the Toronto area this term break, here are a few things you and some family and friends can do to make your Holiday break a little bit more festive!

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TORONTO CHRISTMAS MARKET

Where: The Distillery Historic District; Mill Street

When: Tuesdays – Sundays; November 20th, 2015 –December 20th, 2015

What: Christmas street festival and market with Christmas related entertainment, shopping and food vendors, activities, etc.

Why: With activities from music, dance, a Caroling challenge, meeting Santa, special Christmas cocktails and food, there’s sure to be something for someone who loves Christmas or just simply enjoys having a good time! Also, the Christmas Market is free of Admission from Tuesdays to Fridays! Otherwise, admission is only $5 (including tax!) on Saturdays and Sundays.

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SKATING AT NATHAN PHILLIPS SQUARE, HARBOURFRONT RINK, AND EVEN RYERSON’S OWN LAKE DEVO!

Where:
Nathan Phillips Square = 100 Queen St W; Near the historic Old City Hall!
Harbourfront Centre = 235 Queens Quay W; near the beautiful Lake Ontario with a gorgeous view of the Lake and the city skyline!
Ryerson “Lake Devo” = 350 Victoria St; near the heart of the city – Yonge & Dundas Square!

When: All open 7 days a week, 10am – 10pm! (With the exception of Ryerson’s Lake Devo, which is open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day!)

What: The city’s best outdoor skating spots in the most iconic parts of the city!

Why: Outdoor skating has been a typical Christmas tradition and there’s nothing better than doing it in the most iconic parts of Toronto!

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RAPTORS OR LEAFS GAME AT AIR CANADA CENTRE

Where: 40 Bay St

When: Check game schedules for Raptors (http://www.nba.com/raptors/schedule) and Leafs (http://mapleleafs.nhl.com/club/schedule.htm)

What: Toronto’s two beloved home teams in Canada’s most loved sports face off other competitors in exciting court and ice action! Catch these widely-loved sports by Canadians across the country with family and/or friends!

Why: Hockey and basketball are Canadian-invented sports – with the Raptors and Leafs having the best fans in the world, seeing these games live is sure to not only add excitement to your Holiday season, but ignite your Canadian spirit as well!

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THE CHRISTMAS WINDOW DISPLAYS AT HUDSON’S THE BAY

Where: 401 Bay St

When: Monday – Saturday, 9:00am to 9:30pm; Sundays, 10:00am to 7:00pm

What: Each year, The Hudson’s Bay in downtown Toronto (connected to CF Eaton Centre) arranges its window displays during the Holiday season to display magnificent scenes that depict a Christmas-related theme!

Why: These beautiful window displays make for stunning pictures and can even spark some Christmas decoration inspiration! These inspirational and elaborate displays make for Instagram-worthy posts!

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HOLIDAY SHOPPING (and for us students, Retail Therapy) AT CF EATON CENTRE

Where: 220 Yonge St

When: Monday – Saturday, 9:00am to 9:30pm; Sundays, 10:00am to 7:00pm

What: CF Toronto Eaton Centre is Toronto’s largest shopping centre that is located at the heart of the city!

Why: The Holiday season calls for Holiday shopping and the best place to get your entire Christmas list checked off is at Toronto’s most popular shopping centre! It’s three floors of great stores, great deals, and even better finds!

If you spend a little time in Toronto this Holiday break, feel free to go through this list and see how many you can go through. Holiday season in Toronto is sure to be a fun, festive, and lively one!

I wish all Ryerson staff and students a very Happy Holiday! Rest, relax, and enjoy yourselves – we all certainly deserve it!

The Story Behind The Storyteller

The Storyteller Logo

The Storyteller Logo

I think the Internet is full of trolls and it’s not necessarily the safest place to share things, that’s why I love the idea behind The Storyteller.

In a nutshell, The Storyteller is an online platform that gives people the opportunity to speak about things they might not be open about sharing with other people. It is not affiliated to Ryerson or the RSU. The only relation The Storyteller has to Ryerson is that it was started by Ryerson students.

I had the honour of meeting up with the creators of The Storyteller and learning about the inspiration behind it all.

Banner with 'The STORYTELLER' written on it

Banner with ‘The STORYTELLER’ written on it

Trisha Rolfe is a fourth year Child and Youth Care (CYC) student here at Ryerson. She told me that she learned a lot from other people’s stories and that’s why she wanted to start the blog. She’s found that she tends to be a person people come to when they need someone to talk to and it’s made her realize how much she’s learned from being an open ear. She wants to give people an opportunity to learn about aspects of peoples’ lives that they may not necessarily share openly with others. The original plan was to start a blog with her friend however that kept getting pushed back so she just ended up spearheading The Storyteller alone. Now there is a team of four working together to maintain the blog and various other social media sites.

The team! <Jamie Lupie, Kiri Witmer, Trisha Rolfe, Deanna Aguiar>

The team! Jamie Lupia, Kiri Witmer, Trisha Rolfe, Deanna Aguiar

Trisha first recruited her friend Jamie Lupia, a 3rd year student double majoring in creative writing and labour studies at Brock University. Initially, Jamie was just to help with the blog’s illustrations but she eventually started contributing posts based on some of her own experiences as well. She is the one responsible for the beautiful illustrations found throughout the blog. Afterwards, two more CYC students, Kiri Witmer and Deanna Aguiar, joined them.

Around the same time the blog was started Kiri had posted a video talking about her experiences with suicide. Kiri expressed how important it is for people to talk about issues however she felt that she keeps a lot to herself. Trisha saw this video and approached Kiri because she thought that she embodied ideals that would fit well with The Storyteller. Similarly, Trisha approached Deanna as well because she also thought that she would also be a good fit as she is extremely supportive. Each of the four members contribute to the blog in their own way.

Trisha started The Storyteller blog back in April 2015 and it is amazing how much it has grown since then. They have had several events one at Brock University and an open mic night in Niagara as both Trisha and Jamie are originally from there. They also showcased The Storyteller here at Ryerson during the FCS Student Achievement event. Trisha told me that this was her favourite event as there were a lot of people interested in reading stories. Also, it was a great way to bring awareness to our faculty to inspire people to do things outside of the classroom.

The Storyteller booth at the FCS Student Achievement Event at Ryerson University

The Storyteller booth at the FCS Student Achievement Event at Ryerson University

However, the classroom has helped fuel some of the ideas behind The Storyteller as Kiri has told me that they use concepts they’ve learned throughout the CYC program. One extremely important concept being self-care which is something that we can all relate to and should practice. It’s meant to be an outlet for not only sharing experiences but also to educate as well as to be a sort of therapy. The Storyteller also incorporates a strength-based approach because they want to focus on one’s strengths as well as celebrate the challenges or barriers one was able to overcome.

The Storyteller stresses the idea that “You are not alone” and that all of us are The Storytellers. That’s why submissions are strongly encouraged as sharing may find the solution or sharing might very well be the solution. It’s a way for people to get things off their chest so they want your rants! Submissions can be about any topic and in any form of media: stories, poetry, art, songs, etc. You can choose if you want your posts to be anonymous. They will be accepted and shared as long as posts aren’t racist, homophobic, transphobic, sexist, ablist, sanist, or discriminatory in any way. If you’re interested in making a submission click here! 

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OR if you would like to know more or if you would like to contribute in other ways you can email thestorytellerweb@gmail.com or visit any of their social media platforms: the blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

RU Sustainable?

If you’re anything like me and you spend most of your time looking out windows and wandering around then perhaps you’ve seen the boards up along Church Street just south of the interior design building. Those boards are sealing off the old parking lot that once occupied that land to allow for the new inhabitant to materialize. Who is this new dweller? It is the newest addition to Ryerson’s building family, the Daphne Cockwell Health Sciences building, which is set to break ground this month. Towering 27 storeys above Church Street, this will be the new home and learning commons for some of Ryerson’s existing health science related programs, such as public health, midwifery, nursing, and nutrition (just my luck). The new building will also mean new housing for students, more parking, and new administration offices. Also, keeping with Ryerson’s thirst for innovation the building will be full of sustainability features and be the first building with comprehensive sustainability goals.

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Given that this new health sciences building was an  opportunity for Ryerson to further promote their sustainability efforts they didn’t hold back. The new building is targeting a minimum LEED silver certification, will have a green roof, and the parking won’t just be for traditional cars, there will also be electric car charging stations and over 180 bicycle parking spots. Additionally, a roundtable with Capital Projects & Real Estate (the developers) and the Ryerson community was held in 2013 to share ideas on what long term sustainability goals this building should have. A range of topics, such as waste, lighting, design, energy, and food were discussed and in time we will see what Ryerson has in store for its future students. Don’t get too excited yet though, the opening is not set until Fall 2018. So again if you’re anything like me this building won’t be ready for learning until you’ve graduated (just my luck all over again).

The Campus Facilities and Sustainability department oversees the environmental stewardship efforts that the university employs to ensure that future generations are not hindered by our decisions but aided. Their vision  is that Ryerson will intelligently and continuously pursue opportunities to improve the sustainability on campus, leveraging the contributions of the entire community and serving as a catalyst for broader transformation. The sustainability program that Ryerson promotes was developed by Sustainability Matters which is part of the Campus Facilities and Sustainability department. Sustainability Matters works with the Ryerson community to make it a more environmentally friendly place to work and study. They offer resources, hold events, collaborate, and spread awareness throughout Ryerson to accomplish their goal of helping faculty, administration, and students become more sustainable. Sustainability matters even offers a certificate to campus organizations that want to change their operations. The RU Sustainable Certificate Program provides a framework for planning a group’s sustainability efforts and offers access to the Sustainability Matters support team to aid with goal development and implementation. Overall, Sustainability Matters wants to provide the Ryerson community with resources that help make simple and big sustainability problems resolvable.

With all the work that is being put into this building and all the future thought, has anyone wondered who Daphne Cockwell is? I do. Not only is her name going to be forever installed on a landmark building but her name also graces the School of Nursing. She even has a gallery named after her at the Royal Ontario Museum. Who is Daphne Cockwell? You might think that she was the principle donator to Ryerson for this building, she wasn’t. You may think she was a former student who went on to promote Ryerson, she wasn’t. As it turns out she is a 93 year old woman living in South Africa. Daphne Cockwell worked as a nurse and devoted her life to helping others. She also happens to be the mother of a very powerful Canadian businessman named Jack Cockwell. With 28 million dollars in donations to Ryerson, we certainly have a lot to thank the Cockwell family for, not just a new building. Especially considering the fact that the Cockwell’s never even attended Ryerson, they simply enjoy and agree with how the university is run and what it stands for.

With all the environmental work that is being done by Ryerson and the attention they garner from powerful benefactors, it sometimes makes me wonder how thoughtful I am of the environment. Mother nature is someone who is consistently forgotten in some circles and as a result we are having to fix and restore what was destroyed by our predecessors. I am thankful that Ryerson is taking the initiative to advance the protection of our environment, even if the changes are small and few, they are doing something. We all play a role in the protection of mother nature and we should all want to, after all doesn’t sustainability matter?