LAURIER For Alumni & Friends | SUMMER 2012
wilfrid laurier university
CAMPUS Fit nation
Kelly Murumets pushes for a healthier Canada
Artist-blacksmith Scott McKay forges a new career A promise to her sister changes Deborah Carterâ€™s life forever
blaze a trail in laurier’s second century.
KARA CHIKI, CLASS OF 2012 received a Garfield Weston Scholarship which includes travel to see places and people whose futures are being improved by philanthropy. This photo was taken on a visit to South Africa. Kara says such experiences “reminded me how Wilfrid Laurier University values innovative thinking, passion and commitment from its students, and that the university strives to help its students become influential global citizens.”
LEGACY DONORS GIVE FUTURE GENERATIONS A BOOST. University students are fuelled with hope for a bright future. Lead the way with a legacy of generosity through a charitable bequest in your will or life insurance policy. Your encouragement will help carve a path of success for decades to come. To learn how easy it is, contact Cec Joyal, Development Officer, Individual & Legacy Giving at email@example.com or call 519-884-0710 x3864.
contents Battling the nation’s bulge As CEO of ParticipACTION, Kelly Murumets hopes to make Canada the healthiest country on Earth.
The mental race of Olympic marathoners. Plus, does the declining number of maple trees mean the end of maple syrup?
Forging a new career
Inside the Dragons’ Den
Artist-blacksmith Scott McKay plays with fire as he creates stunning sculptures out of scrap metal and found pieces.
Deborah Carter was a busy, single career woman when a promise to her dying sister meant becoming a mom.
Stroller designer Agata Majerski makes a pitch and takes us behind the scenes of the hit CBC television show. Plus, catching up with the newest “dragon,” author and finance guru David Chilton.
3 Editor’s note
36 Keeping in touch
4 President’s message
38 Postcard to home
6 Campus news
39 Calendar of events
12 Research file
40 Flashback LAURIER CAMPUS Summer 2012
Making a difference â€” together. Your gift matters. The benefits to students last a lifetime when Laurierâ€™s community of alumni, parents, friends, faculty and staff combine their resources to fund bursaries, the library, updated classroom technology and many other elements that contribute to a wonderful campus experience. Once a year we hang hundreds of tags on computers, equipment and buildings to demonstrate the widespread impact our network of donors has through their gifts.
please join them and give today.
campus corner EDITOR’S NOTE
An active campus, active grad
Waterloo | Brantford | Kitchener | Toronto
Volume 52, Number 1, Summer 2012 ISSN 0700-5105
Laurier Campus is published by the Department of Communications, Public Affairs & Marketing (CPAM) Wilfrid Laurier University 75 University Avenue West Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3C5 Publisher: Jacqui Tam Assistant Vice-President: CPAM Editor: Stacey Morrison Writers: Nicholas Dinka, Sandra Muir, Mallory O’Brien, Design: Justin Ogilvie, Janice Maarhuis, Dawn Wharnsby, Emily Lowther Photography: Tomasz Adamski, Dean Palmer Send address changes to: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 519.884.0710 x3176 Publications Mail Registration No. 40020414 Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: Wilfrid Laurier University 75 University Avenue West Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3C5 We welcome and encourage your feedback. Send letters to the editor to email@example.com. We reserve the right to edit all submissions.
Laurier Campus (circ. 60,000) is published three times a year by CPAM. Opinions expressed in Campus do not necessarily reflect those of the editor or the university’s administration.
With the arrival of summer, the pace on campus typically slows down. The exodus of students ends at the end of April, and the line-up for coffee at outlets around campus becomes noticeably shorter. This year, however, has been an exception. At the end of May, Laurier co-hosted the 2012 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, which brought more than 7,400 academics, researchers and policymakers to Waterloo. The university’s Waterloo campus was buzzing with activity, including lectures, social events and association meetings. For more about this event, which was five years in the making, see page six. With summer now in full swing, it’s a great time to get outside and be active. In
this issue of Campus we talk with Kelly Murumets, CEO of ParticipACTION, Canada’s national voice for physical activity. She shares some troubling statistics: one in four Canadians are now considered obese and kids are spending an average of six hours a day watching television. She provides some great insight and tips on how to get moving — physical activity can help reduce the risk of more than 25 chronic conditions, including heart disease and diabetes. There’s no time like the present to start exercising more! Enjoy the summer,
Stacey Morrison, Editor
Letters to the editor Yes, your updated Campus is fresher and more modern. I’m part of the DNA of Waterloo Lutheran University, arriving on campus as the first director of student activities, plus starting the athletic program. The first athletic award was named after me. My wife, Norma, and I were recently at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge in Alberta celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary. We had a conversation with another guest who said her son had won the Bill Haggstrom Award. I asked if she knew who Bill Haggstrom was? Her response: “I think he was some old fart who’s been dead for 50 years!” Norma couldn’t stop laughing! Not dead, but retired. We now split our golden years between our family home in Zionsville, Indiana, and our adobe home in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Bill Haggstrom
The new look to Campus is more savvy. I did enjoy the piece about the BBA graduate re-inventing herself with a cake business and the great photos. I was dismayed to see the Keeping in Touch section starting in the 1970s and much less spaced allotted. This is the section that I read first. What about graduates still alive and kicking from the earlier days? Boomers are a particularly active group, starting up new careers and remarrying in their later years. I think this alienates many of your alumni who also are financial supporters. Gail Murray (nee Carr), BA ’70 The Keeping in Touch section is driven by alumni submissions. To help keep the section populated, please let us know what you have been up to! Personal or career milestones, additons to the family, recent adventures … we love to hear from you! Send your update to firstname.lastname@example.org. —Ed.
Cover photography: Dean Palmer Visit us online at www.wlu.ca/cpam
Questions, comments, rants or raves? We’d love to hear from you! Email us at email@example.com. Be sure to “Like” us on facebook. www.facebook.com/LaurierNow youtube.com/LaurierVideo
LAURIER CAMPUS Summer 2012
campus corner PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE
Laurier’s sense of community is a source of strength
As I conclude my first five-year term at Laurier and look forward to my second, I am filled with a deep admiration for this wonderful, vibrant and distinguished university. At my installation ceremony in October 2007, I said that I have never in my years at various universities enjoyed the ebullient good nature, the energy, the mutual support and the sheer engagement that characterizes Laurier. Five years on, I feel this more deeply than ever.
(l-r) Laurier Chancellor Michael Lee-Chin, honorary degree recipient James Campbell and Laurier President Max Blouw have fun before a spring convocation ceremony.
Laurier is a community in the truest sense of the word. Students, alumni, faculty, and staff have an extraordinary attachment to this institution. It is an attachment forged by a shared experience that emphasizes collaboration, inclusiveness, a strong sense of purpose, and a firm belief in the value of combining high academic standards with an equally high degree of personal and social development. I could point to many activities from the past five years that exemplify this unique ethos, but one only has to look at two major events from the past year to see it writ large. In 2011, this university marked its 100th anniversary. It was an enthusiastic yearlong celebration, the organization of which involved representatives from across the entire Laurier family — staff, faculty, students, alumni and our many friends from the broader community. Our centennial celebrations helped us to bond as a community. They also helped us to articulate and to promote Laurier’s culture, mission and vision to a national audience. Similarly, the lead role played by Laurier in co-hosting the 2012 Congress of the Humanities
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and Social Sciences is an excellent example of what we are capable of accomplishing as a university community. Some five years in the making, Congress 2012 was an enormous initiative that involved an extraordinary level of commitment and teamwork on the part of several hundred staff, faculty, students and alumni. More than 7,400 delegates from across Canada and abroad visited our campus and that of our co-host, the University of Waterloo. The feedback we received from delegates and officials was overwhelmingly positive. Graham Carr, president of the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, described Congress 2012 as “a true tour de force.” An event of this size and complexity could not be mounted without a highly motivated, professional and talented team behind it. In that sense, the success of Congress 2012 is an important reflection of the quality and health of Laurier as an organization. We certainly have challenges ahead of us. The global economy continues to struggle, the province is grappling with a significant deficit, and the very nature of post-secondary education continues to evolve at a rapid pace. However, it is important to note that Laurier has taken many steps in recent years to build a strong foundation that will enable us to embrace change and to position the university for success. And additional initiatives are underway, such as the collaborative Integrated Planning and Resource Management (IPRM) process, which will identify institutional priorities and inform the best approach to managing university resources. As we move forward as a multi-campus institution, I am confident that Laurier will continue to strengthen its reputation as a university committed to teaching and research excellence, an exceptional student experience, and an integrated and engaged approach to learning. I am honoured and privileged to be a member of the Laurier community, and I look forward to working with all of you to make this remarkable university even better.
Dr. Max Blouw President and Vice-Chancellor
campus corner MESSAGE FROM THE WLUAA PRESIDENT
A farewell and new beginning for the WLUAA In early April, the Wilfrid Laurier Alumni Association (WLUAA) hosted a new event for graduating students called The Toast to the Class of 2012. Events were held simultaneously at both The Turret and at Laurier’s Brantford campus, with more than 500 students in attendance. This was a great way to recognize our incoming alumni for their academic achievements, and for them to learn about staying connected and engaged with Laurier after graduation. I am extremely proud to report the Alumni Association received the Laurier Society Philanthropy Award at the annual Laurier Society Gala Reception in June. The association was recognized for its exceptional record of financial generosity in support of Laurier’s advancement. Our cumulative philanthropy has exceeded $1.5 million in support of numerous capital projects and student scholarships, and we look forward to continuing this trend and witnessing the tremendous benefits it bestows on the university. I would also like to thank two long-serving board members who have stepped down after many years of commitment and dedication to the WLUAA and Laurier: • Megan Harris (’00) who served seven years as a WLUAA director, including the past four as vice-president. • John Trus (’90) who served as a WLUAA director for four years, including three years as the communications committee chair. He also spent the past three years as one of our representatives on the Senate.
This will also be my final Campus column as president of the WLUAA. After six years in this position, I will transition to the role of past president and I will continue to support alumni as a representative on the Board of Governors. Marc Henein (’04), former vice-president, will assume the role of president. It has been an honour and pleasure serving as WLUAA president, and working with such a dedicated group of volunteers and Alumni Relations staff. I am extremely proud of what the WLUAA has accomplished over the past number of years. We have witnessed great growth in our student scholarship and recognition programs, event programming for both alumni and students has expanded steadily, and we have made significant financial contributions in support of numerous campus development projects at both the Waterloo and Brantford campuses. Of particular note, the WLUAA has become recognized as a key stakeholder and partner in the Laurier community — the representative voice of over 80,000 Laurier alumni. WLUAA continues to be known across Canada as a leader among alumni associations, and I am confident this trend will continue under the guidance of our new leadership team. Sincerely,
Tom Berczi ’88, ’93 President, WLUAA firstname.lastname@example.org
WLUAA 2011–12 Executive
Board of Directors
President Tom Berczi ’88, ’93 Vice-President Megan Harris ’00 Vice-President Marc Henein ’04 Treasurer Mark Richardson ’95 Honorary President Dr. Max Blouw Past President Steve Wilkie ’82, ’89
Bruce Armstrong ’72 Scott Bebenek ’85 Thomas Cadman ’87 Marie-Helene Colaiezzi ’07,’08 Sourov De ’05 Paul Dickson ’03 Peter Gobran ’99 Paul Maxwell ’07 Michelle Missere ’06 Kiran Nagra ’02 Priya Persaud ’98 Patricia Polischuk ’90 Karen Rice ’87 Chris Rushforth ’80
Shirley Schmidt ’86, ’09 Kelly Schoonderwoerd ’03 Maeve Strathy ’10 Cynthia Sundberg ’94
Board of Governors Representatives Tom Berczi ’88, ’93 Tim Martin ’92 Steve Wilkie ’82, ’89
Senate Representatives Susan Lockett ’99 David Oates ’70 John Trus ’90
LAURIER CAMPUS Summer 2012
campus news Congress 2012 a “true tour de force”
Laurier co-hosts more than 7,400 delegates
Congress delegates and guests at one of several receptions, above, and an Aboriginal welcome ceremony, right.
The Laurier spirit was in full flight from May 26 to June 2 as the university co-hosted the largest interdisciplinary academic conference in Canada. The 2012 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences attracted more than 7,400 academics, students and policymakers from across Canada and abroad. Co-hosted by Laurier and the University of Waterloo, the eight-day event was the culmination of nearly five years worth of planning and preparation. “This year’s Congress was a true tour de force,” said Graham Carr, president of the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, organizers of Congress. “We couldn’t have done it without the
phenomenal hospitality of Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo, and the people of the Kitchener-Waterloo area, who welcomed Congress delegates for the week.” Laurier alumni were invited to attend a series of Uptown Waterloo celebration events that were designed to engage the community and Congress delegates. And Laurier grads attending Congress were invited to a special alumni reception in the Graduate Students’ Lounge. Many alumni also attended the “Big Thinking” public talks, which featured the likes of writer Margaret Atwood, Governor General David Johnston and Pulitzer-Prizewinning journalist Chris Hedges. Most of
these talks were captured on video and are available for viewing at: www.youtube.com/user/FedCanada. In true Laurier form, hundreds of staff, faculty and students pitched in and played a central role in planning and running Congress 2012. “To everyone who contributed to Congress 2012, I extend my heartfelt appreciation,” said Laurier President Max Blouw. “This high-profile event was an opportunity to showcase Laurier to a national audience and together you did an outstanding job!”
Laurier LAUNCHES strategic priorities and resource management process
Initiative will position university for future success Laurier’s yearlong Integrated Planning and Resource Management (IPRM) initiative — which will ultimately identify the future strategic priorities of the university and determine how to operationalize and fund these priorities — is progressing. The initiative began with workshops in April where a cross-section of the Laurier community engaged in candid discussion about the challenges and opportunities facing the institution. Workshops will continue in late June and September. Beginning in the fall, there will be opportunities for all Laurier staff, faculty, students and alumni to provide their thoughts on the priorities and future direction of the university. “The IPRM is a historic initiative that will position Laurier very strongly for future
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success,” said Max Blouw, Laurier president and vice-chancellor. “I strongly encourage everyone to make their voices heard.” A Planning Task Force, which oversees a Resource Management Team, Academic Priorities Team and Administrative Priorities Team, will drive the IPRM’s prioritization and resource-management processes. All teams will be made up of members who represent a broad cross-section of the Laurier community, and each team will seek input from all members of the university community, including alumni. Key academic and non-academic priorities will be determined to position Laurier for future success, and lead to the identification of and choices about, activities that do not support the university’s priorities. A budget model and resource-allocation
process will also be developed to directly support these priorities. The IPRM will build on the foundations developed through the Envisioning Laurier exercise, the Academic Plan and the Campus Master Plan. “It is important to us that the process is truly inclusive and involves all members of the Laurier community to create strategies and priorities from the bottom up, rather than imposed top-down,” said Blouw. “There is a collective responsibility for Laurier’s future success, and the outcome of the process will be directly dependent on input from the Laurier community.” More information about opportunities for input will be available soon. For further information and updates about the process, visit the IPRM website at www.wlu.ca/IPRM.
Academic council on the united nations system stays at Laurier
People at Laurier
University wins bid for third five-year term
Larry Agranove, retired professor of business, passed away March 9, 2012 at the age of 83. He joined Laurier’s School of Business & Economics in 1972 and was a full-time professor for 17 years.
Laurier has won its bid to remain home to the prestigious Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS) for an unprecedented third five-year term. In conjunction with the start of its new term, ACUNS is in the process of relocating to larger offices at the Balsillie School of International Affairs. The Balsillie School is located at the CIGI campus, a hub of international scholarship located in Uptown Waterloo. “Laurier’s success with ACUNS proves that a relatively small university with strong international programs can have a global influence,” said Alistair Edgar, executive director of ACUNS. Previous hosts of ACUNS include Dartmouth, Brown and Yale universities in the United States. Laurier’s first term as the organization’s host began in 2003, when ACUNS relocated from Yale. It was the first time in 15 years that the council was headquartered outside the U.S. ACUNS publishes an award-winning quarterly journal and newsletter, maintains a global network of liaison offices, and holds international conferences and meetings on the UN and on international issues. The council works closely with the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), an independent thinktank on global issues, which is also based at the CIGI campus. ACUNS’ membership of about 700 comes from some 50 countries and includes leading international institutions, scholars and diplomats. The organization’s mandate is to promote excellence in research, writing and teaching about the UN, international organizations, international law and the functioning of multilateralism. The announcement of Laurier’s third term coincided with ACUNS’ 25th anniversary. Edgar said it is fitting that the council’s capabilities are being enhanced in a milestone year.
Quincy Almeida, director of Laurier’s Sun Life Movement Disorders Research & Rehabilitation Centre, is the 2012 Early Career Distinguished Scholar, presented by the North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity. A professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education, Almeida is an expert on movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.
Bruce Arai has been reappointed dean of Laurier’s Brantford campus. He joined Brantford as associate dean in 2003 and was named to his current position in 2008. Gohar Ashoughian has been appointed university librarian for a five-year term. Ashoughian was previously university librarian at the University of Northern British Columbia.
Jennifer Baltzer, associate professor of biology, and Laurie Barclay, associate professor of business, each received a $100,000 Early Researcher Award from the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation. Baltzer wil investigate the impact of climate change and the thaw of the permafrost on Canada’s boreal forest. Barclay will explore the effectiveness of guided journal writing for people experiencing workplace unfairness. Sergeant Rick Cousineau of Laurier’s Special Constable Service was awarded a Community Involvement Award by the Optimist Clubs of Waterloo Region. Three years ago, Cousineau started a bicycle-recycling program at the university in partnership with Elmira District High School and the Community Action Program for Children of Waterloo Region. Discarded bicycles on campus are delivered to the high school where students repair them, and the bikes are then distributed to local children in need.
Penelope Ironstone was awarded a Wilfrid Laurier University 2012 Award for Teaching Excellence in the full-time faculty category. An associate professor in the Department of Communication Studies, Ironstone was recognized for her innovative teaching methods, ability to motivate her students, and command of the interdisciplinary fields of communication, cultural and media studies.
Richard Petrone, associate professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, is part of a research team working on rebuilding peatland fens on the sites of depleted oil-sand mines in northern Alberta. He is one of four environmental researchers who have received a total of $6.7 million in funding as one of the largest-ever Collaborative Research and Development Grants, combining funding from industry and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). Ronald A. Ross was awarded a Wilfrid Laurier University 2012 Award for Teaching Excellence in the parttime, contract academic staff category. An instructor in the Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies, and the Medieval Studies program, he is known for his professionalism, engaging students inside and outside the classroom, and his ability to create a learning environment in any class size.
Mercedes Rowinsky-Geurts, a professor and associate dean of students in the Department of Languages and Literatures, is the recipient of a 2012 Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) Award for Teaching Excellence. The award recognizes educators who go above and beyond the textbook to inspire their students to learn. Selected by students, the award is presented annually to professors from each of OUSA’s member campuses who exemplify teaching excellence.
LAURIER CAMPUS Summer 2012
A conversation with Michael Lee-Chin
Laurier’s chancellor talks with CBC journalist Laurier Chancellor Michael Lee-Chin and CBC journalist Amanda Lang delighted a crowd of more than 100 people at the university’s inaugural Conversations with Leaders event in April. Held at the Toronto Board of Trade, the event featured an interview-style conversation between Lee-Chin, one of Canada’s most successful entrepreneurs, and Lang, a veteran business reporter and television personality. Lee-Chin recalled his childhood years growing up in Jamaica where his parents worked three jobs each to provide their nine children with the necessities of life. Of the 120 students in his elementary school, Lee-Chin was one of only two to go on to high school. From there he travelled to Hamilton, Ont., to study engineering at McMaster University. To help pay his way, Lee-Chin wrote a letter to the prime minister of Jamaica asking him to make an “investment” in one of his fellow citizens by providing Lee-Chin with a scholarship. The prime minister obliged. “That’s chutzpah,” said Lang. To which Lee-Chin replied: “It was desperation,” explaining that without the scholarship he could not have completed university. Lee-Chin, who made his fortune in the mutual fund industry, said he became interested in investing while working as a bouncer shortly after graduation. He entered the mutual fund industry in 1977 and landed his first customers by introducing himself to people in his neighbourhood. He later drove from farm to farm in the Tillsonburg area of southwestern Ontario explaining the tax and investment benefits of mutual funds. In 1983, Lee-Chin borrowed $500,000 to buy Mackenzie Financial, a small mutual fund manager. Within four years the stock he purchased for $1 per share had increased to $7 per share, and his initial investment grew to $3.5 million.
He then bought an investment company, AIC Limited of Kitchener, which he grew into a much larger collection of diversified companies. In 1990 these businesses had $8 million under management; eight years later that figure had grown to $8 billion. Despite his skills and hard work, Lee-Chin said his life has been “blessed” by a number of circumstances beyond his control: being born in an era and country where he was free to pursue his fortunes; and having caring and supportive parents who encouraged him to succeed. Nonetheless, Lee-Chin is an astute student of investment legends such as Warren Buffett. He told the audience that he has distilled a number of key principles by studying wealthy people. These include: • Understand the businesses you invest in • Own stable companies • Invest in growth industries • Hold your investments for the long term A generous philanthropist whose motto is “do well by doing good,” Lee-Chin has a passion for education, which he described as the great “equalizer” among people of all backgrounds. His many charitable gifts include educational support for students. Segments of the interview can be viewed on Laurier’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/lauriervideo by clicking on the “Conversations with Leaders” playlist. The next Conversations with Leaders event will take place in the fall in Calgary.
Curler wins OWL award
Laura Crocker named Outstanding Woman of Laurier Laura Crocker has been named the 2012 Outstanding Woman of Laurier. Crocker, the skip for Laurier’s varsity women’s curling team, received the award during a luncheon for 300 people at the Waterloo Inn Conference Hotel. Crocker is a fourth-year Psychology major and a two-time Academic All-Canadian. “I want to thank Laurier for giving me the opportunity to excel as an athlete, as a student and as a community volunteer,” Crocker told the crowd after accepting her award. “As female athletes, we do face
LAURIER CAMPUS Summer 2012
challenges, but we do have very big dreams. We all want to be at the Olympics one day, but we know we will never get there without a room full of people like you supporting women’s athletics.” Eleven women competed for the prestigious award this year. Crocker won backto-back OUA championships this past year. She won the 2011 CIS championship, followed by a 2012 CIS championship win in March. Crocker represented Laurier and Team Canada at the Kariuzawa International Curling Championships in Japan, where she
captured a gold medal. Crocker also volunteers her time as a Little Rock instructor and assists in the elementary school program Rocks and Rings. Outside of sport, she is actively involved in a developmental education classroom where she works with seven students with developmental delays.
New centre marks Laurier as a leader in water sciences
Laurier wins CCAE awards
Centre for Cold Regions and Water Science will produce important research
Laurier has won six awards from the Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education’s (CCAE) annual Prix D’Excellence program. The Prix D’Excellence awards program recognizes outstanding achievements in alumni relations, public affairs, communications, marketing, development, advancement services, stewardship, student recruitment and overall institutional advancement. Laurier won two gold awards: one for the 100 Alumni of Achievement program in the category of Best Alumni Initiative, and one for the Inspiring Lives advertising campaign in the Best Print Ad or Poster category. Laurier also won one silver award for the university’s centennial alumni celebration (Best Alumni Event), and three bronze awards: the centennial Sir Wilfrid Laurier statue campaign (Best Annual Fund Initiative), the 100 Hours for 100 years volunteer program (Best Community Outreach) and the GRADitude graduating class gift program (Best New Idea on a Shoestring). Additionally, Tania John, Laurier’s associate director, Annual Giving, received one of only two CCAE Rising Star Awards for demonstrating success in and commitment to the advancement field. John received a $2,000 Presidents’ Scholarship to support her professional development for the coming year.
Laurier is putting an exclamation point on its commitment to water science with the construction of an $8 million building on the university’s Waterloo campus. The new Centre for Cold Regions and Water Science facility, slated to open by early 2013, will house two key research groups within the university: the Cold Regions Research Centre (CRRC) and the Institute for Water Science (IWS). The 14,000-square-foot, two-storey building will be mainly devoted to labs, and will also have space for graduate students and for meetings. Researchers from a range of disciplines, including hydrology, biology, climatology and others, will work and meet there to tackle a wide range of waterrelated research topics. Those topics include the way in which water cycles through various geographic regions, the stability of the water supply, and the implications of climate change and industrial land use on water. Another cluster of researchers will focus on aquatic
sciences, including fish toxicology and the human health implications of water quality. Still others are studying wastewater issues. “When you look at Canada, we have a whole lot of fresh water, approximately 20 per cent of the global supply,” said Richard Petrone, director of the CRRC. “To understand how to develop policy and manage our water we have to know the answers to all of these questions, and we have to understand how water works right across the country, from a native fishing community in the Far North to the suburbs of southern Ontario.”
When you look at Canada, we have a whole lot of fresh water, approximately 20 per cent of the Richard Petrone, director of the CRRC global supply ...
New centre approved
Laurier establishes Centre for Women in Science The Senate of Wilfrid Laurier University has approved the establishment of a Centre for Women in Science at the university. “The sciences aren’t attracting as many female students as they should,” said Abby Goodrum, Laurier’s vice-president: research. “This new centre will help us to better understand the reasons for the gender disparity in the sciences and to promote and support the scientific careers of female researchers.” The centre’s mission is to build a strong community for women in science as well as the mathematical social sciences through research, action and communication. It will provide
grants to female scientists and to scholars studying the role of women in the sciences. In addition, it will organize seminars, workshops and conferences, develop partnerships with other educational institutions and with industry, facilitate networking and mentoring opportunities for female scientists, and support community outreach to female youth considering careers in science. To view a video profile of the centre’s founding director, Shohini Ghose, visit the Laurier YouTube channel at www. youtube.com/lauriervideo
LAURIER CAMPUS Summer 2012
An eye to the environment
New Sustainability Action Plan aims to reduce greenhouse gases Laurier has approved a new Sustainability Action Plan, which sets a 15 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over a five-year period. The plan was created to establish initiatives and related milestones for sustainability progress in multiple areas of the university, including education, operations and community partnerships. The Sustainability Action Plan contains plans, reports, policies and assessments, such as an emissions summary from 2009 that acts as the university’s baseline. From these assessments, key indicators were developed to measure the plan’s progress. With the plan, Laurier will be better equipped to respond to emerging trends and opportunities by effectively managing sustainability in the short, medium and long term. In 2010, the university collaborated with the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union to establish the Laurier Sustainability Office and to hire a full-time sustainability
One of two green roofs on Laurier’s Waterloo campus.
coordinator. Since then, the university has taken many steps forward. These include: implementing an energy management plan; designing new buildings to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards; adaptive reuse of existing buildings; rolling out numerous projects such as a central recycling and composting system; supporting alternative forms of transportation, such as cycling; participating in an ongoing assessment program through the Sustainability, Tracking, and Rating System (STARS); and providing annual reports on programs and progress; and many other initiatives.
Archaeological dig at Fort Erie commemorates 200th anniversary of War of 1812 As Japanese haiku master Matsuo Basho once wrote, “Ah, summer grass / All that remains / Of the warrior’s dream.” Student archaeologists at Laurier have a different take. For them, it’s what can be found beneath the summer grass that matters: precious clues about how such dreams played out two centuries ago. From May 14 to June 22, a team of 20 Laurier students carried out the first-ever archaeological dig at Fort Erie, located on the Canadian side of the Niagara River across from Buffalo, NY, in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. “Fort Erie is a high-profile site and it figured very prominently in the War of 1812 period,” said John Triggs, associate professor of Archaeology, who led the dig. “This was an opportunity to learn more about Fort Erie than the historical documents alone can teach us, and to get people excited about the War of 1812 and how important it is to Canada’s history.” The dig focused primarily on the
LAURIER CAMPUS Summer 2012
American defensive positions during the bloodiest battle ever fought on Canadian soil, a six-week siege in August and September 1814 during which the British tried to recapture the fort from the Americans. Upwards of 1,500 combatants, including soldiers, native allies and militia, died in the fighting. The team divided the site into a grid made up of two-by-one-metre rectangles. Six to seven students worked on each area, carefully scraping away the soil to find items such as bones from food, dishes, clay smoking pipes, uniform buttons bearing regimental numbers, musket balls and artillery shell fragments, dominos and dice for gambling, and a wide array of other items that paint a picture of camp life. The dig was carried out as part of the Department of Archaeology’s field schools program, which gives students the opportunity to apply what they have learned in class to a hands on, real-world archaeological dig. Hundreds of visitors to Fort Erie had the
opportunity to view the excavation as it progressed. The student archaeologists were briefed on how to interact with the public, explaining and interpreting their findings in real time. For visitors to the fort, it was a unique chance to learn more about Canada’s origins. “The War of 1812 was such a turning point in our history,” said Triggs. “The capture of Fort Erie was the last invasion of the war, and the last in Canadian history. It helped unite us as a country.”
Laurier appoints new dean
Micheál Kelly will lead the School of Business & Economics
Laurier graduates 2,500 students
Micheál Kelly, a professor of Strategic and International Management and former dean at the Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa, has taken up his new role as dean of the Laurier School of Business & Economics (SBE). Kelly is a respected academic who helped transform the Telfer School into a leading centre for management education and research. He is also a highly sought-after consultant in the technology sector, and has extensive experience in government. Kelly takes over from Professor William Banks, who served as acting dean from Feb. 1, 2011. “Laurier’s SBE has a great reputation among Canadian business schools for the quality of its students, faculty, programs, research and alumni,” said Kelly. “All of the ingredients are there to build an institution of global significance and prominence.” Kelly served as dean at Telfer from 2000 to 2010. Under his leadership the school earned three major international accreditations, known as the “Triple Crown”. The accreditations indicate that every aspect of a business school — from its activities and programs to its mission and corporate governance — has been thoroughly evaluated and meets the highest standards of excellence. It was also during this time that Telfer received the largest naming endowment ever for a Canadian business school.
Laurier graduated more than 2,500 students and awarded eight honorary degrees during the university’s spring convocation ceremonies in June. As well, Laurier bestowed Distinguished Governor Awards to Joan Fisk and Mary D’Alton. Two Order of Wilfrid Laurier University awards for exemplary service to the university were also bestowed, to former MPP and mayor of Waterloo Herb Epp, and former chair of Laurier’s Board of Governors Beverly Harris. In total, 12 convocation ceremonies were held — nine at Laurier’s Waterloo campus and three at the university’s
Brantford campus. Honorary degree recipients included author Joseph Boyden; plant biologist Margaret E. McCully; clarinetist James Campbell; poets Dionne Brand and Louise Halfe; researcher Panos Pardalos; automotive executive Ray Tanguay; and former politician Sean Conway. In his opening remarks, Laurier Chancellor Michael Lee-Chin reminded students of the sacrifices their parents made to help them get through university. He spoke of his own parents, who worked for 29 years without a vacation to put their nine children through university. He also told the audience a story about three bricklayers who continued to work during a snowstorm. When asked why they continued to work, the first bricklayer said to put his children through university. The second bricklayer replied that in addition to putting his children through university, he continued to work because he is a consummate professional. The third bricklayer said he contnued to work because he is building his cathedral. Lee-Chin noted the third bricklayer will have the most fulfillment in life because he is building his own legacy. “Our history tomorrow is a function of our behaviour today,” said Lee-Chin. “What kind of history do you want to write? What kind of reputation do you want to build? Because it’s in your hands.”
Joint athletic facility wins design award
Laurier Brantford YMCA design selected for its “invention and innovation” The design for the future Laurier Brantford YMCA Athletics and Recreation Centre has earned architectural firm Cannon Design a prestigious Progressive Architecture (p/a) award from Architect Magazine. The facility design was one of 10 selected for its “invention and innovation” from among hundreds of submissions from around the world. The joint Laurier and YMCA of Hamilton/Burlington/Brantford facility is
designed to be a community athletics and recreation centre with gyms, aquatic centre, meeting rooms and other spaces to be used by students and the broader community. The community partnership involves Nipissing University, Mohawk College, the City of Brantford, Six Nations Elected Council and Six Nations Polytechnic. Cannon Design focused on themes of memory, movement and landscape in its
integrated design. The designers describe the facility as an “elongated bar anchored by subterranean volume” that will offer the public a “unified and cohesive experience that asserts a new identity to the block and city as a whole.” In their commentary, jurors also recognized the design for its positive urban contributions. To view renderings of the building, visit www.laurierbrantford.ca/yathleticscomplex.
LAURIER CAMPUS Summer 2012
The mental race of a marathoner
Kim Dawson helps elite runners with psychological techniques by Nicholas Dinka
For elite Canadian marathoner Eric Gillis, qualifying for the London 2012 Olympics was no walk in the park. With his coach on a bike at his side screaming encouragement (It’s pretty serious, Gilly — you gotta run your ass off!), he made the cut at an event this spring with only 1.7 seconds to spare. But Laurier’s Kim Dawson says she never doubted that Gillis would meet the Olympic standard. “He has such amazing mental toughness,” says Dawson, a professor of Kinesiology and Physical Education. “I knew that if he had to dig in mentally he would be able to do it.” Dawson would know. In addition to her role at Laurier, she is a consultant with the Speed River Track and Field Club in Guelph, Ont. — a storied organization that has trained four runners bound for the 2012 London Olympics (July 27 to Aug. 12): Gillis, fellow marathoner Reid Coolsaet, steeplechaser Alex Genest and 1500metre runner Hilary Stellingwerff. Dawson works with these and other athletes to develop psychological techniques for fending off slumps, dealing with injuries, peaking at the right time, managing emotions over the course of a race, and “having a life” outside of running, a sport that requires participants to not just endure but actively seek out enormous helpings of physical pain. “Just as there’s a whole arsenal of physical skills that runners need, there’s a whole arsenal of mental skills, too,” she says. “First and foremost, the athletes have to learn that the first thought they
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have doesn’t have to be the thought they keep — they are capable of changing their emotions.” Dawson began working with the Speed River club three years ago, when head coach Dave Scott Thomas (who knows Dawson through her husband, a sports massage therapist) asked her to pitch in. She’s an active runner herself, and has competed in adventure races, triathlons and five marathons. “Now that I’m working with these guys, I don’t have to run fast — I just tell other people how to do it,” Dawson says, with a laugh. “I go for a run and don’t worry about a thing. It’s a little unfair, actually.” An event like the marathon demands a vast commitment from competitors in exchange for minimal financial reward and modest recognition. In the lead-up to a big race, elite marathoners put in upwards of 240 kilometres per week, and on race days they run for over two hours at over 18 km/h, a sprinting speed for many non-athletes. “If they were hockey players, these athletes would be bringing home a lot of money and that would help to validate the time they’re spending on their sport,” says Dawson. “Part of my job is to help them deal with those sacrifices and to ensure they’re managing all of the different needs in their lives.” Dawson helps her athletes to set short- and long-term goals, then create action plans for achieving those goals. She encourages them to “live their whole lives” early in the training cycle, then narrow their focus as a big race approaches.
Now that I’m working with these guys, I don’t have to run fast – I just tell other people how to do it.
Individual races are broken down into several stages, each with its own mental game plan, as if each was an epic tale of triumph against adversity. In the marathon, for instance, the first 10 kilometres are about relaxation and optimizing body mechanics. Passing the halfway mark provides an emotional boost that is carefully harnessed in the drive to the finish line. “Nothing is unprepared,” Dawson says. “They are in complete control — it’s about being consistent.” In the leadup to the Olympics, Dawson and her athletes were concentrating on “event management” around the games and on honing specific mental race strategies. “The Olympic Games are so massive, there can almost be a stigma attached to them,” she says. “We actually call it the Big O, and we do a lot of work helping the athletes to keep their perspective amid the hoopla.” Working with elite runners has provided Dawson with a wealth of applied knowledge about the psychology of high-performance athletics. She shares her expertise as a columnist for Canadian Running magazine, in public seminars and lectures, and in her sports psychology classes at Laurier, which are packed with examples and case studies drawn from her work with elite runners. But her main motivation is personal satisfaction. “It’s so thrilling to help these runners meet their potential,” she says. “When they get an outcome I know they deserve it because they’ve worked so hard for it, it’s just a wonderful thing to see. I love it.”
Igniting the study of forest fires — with statistics by Sandra Muir For Douglas Woolford, an assistant professor in Laurier’s Department of Mathematics, statistics is far from boring. Woolford is part of a research team helping to answer important questions about lightning-caused fires in Alberta and Ontario that could shape future firefighting efforts. “Forest fires are very complex, random phenomena,” says Woolford, who recently presented his research at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting. “It is interesting to look into the past and see how the seasonal patterns in these lightning-caused fire ignitions are changing over time.” Woolford and his team have put together a statistical analysis of historical fire data, which suggests the fire season is getting longer in Alberta and more intense in Ontario. The team used various models and analyzed more than 40 years of fire records for both provinces. “We were concerned about changes in peak risk, seeing more fires, seeing a longer fire season, and whether any of these trends are visible in a relatively short period of time,” says Woolford. “And we are seeing trends that suggest these are all happening.” Woolford expects that both fire management agencies and the forestry industry in Alberta and Ontario will be interested in the results of the study. “The forest product industry and forest fire managers need to plan ahead,” says Woolford. “This research can help with resource allocation, budget planning and understanding how to share resources across provinces. It also gives them an idea of how things might be changing over time, because fire management is interested in forecasting into the future.”
Nothing is unprepared. They are in complete control — it’s about being consistent. LAURIER CAMPUS Summer 2012
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research file research on the cusp
Protecting the pancake breakfast
Brenda Murphy studies the impact of climate change on maple trees by Mallory O’Brien Maple syrup is delicious. It’s thick, it’s sweet and pancakes would be nothing without it. But it’s also more than a condiment — maple syrup is a part of the Canadian identity. What would happen if all the maple trees disappeared? Climate change projections show that in the future, many parts of Ontario may become too hot and too dry to support sugar maple trees. On Laurier’s Brantford campus, Contemporary Studies Professor Brenda Murphy and two research colleagues — Laurier Humanities/ Indigenous scholar Annette Chrétien and University of Guelph physical geographer Laura Brown — are working together on a SSHRC-funded interdisciplinary study on maple syrup and climate change. They hope their research will provide local communities with resources to not only help mitigate climate change but also adapt to it. Sugar maple trees have a relatively small growing range: from Tennessee in the south to Thunder Bay in the north, and from a small corner of Manitoba in the west to the east coast. In a project co-led by Brown, Laurier master’s student Daniel Lamhonwah studied the impact of climate change on the possible growing range of sugar maples. He gathered projections about future climate change scenarios from the Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis of Environment Canada and overlaid them on a set of Geographic Information System (GIS) characteristics that summed up what sugar maple ecosystems need to survive. These include factors such as the right kind of soil, slope, precipitation and temperatures.
He studied three different climate change scenarios — a worst case, middle case and best case — under two time frames: 2041–2070 and 2070–2100. The time frames were chosen specifically because they are within the decision-making timeline of sap producers. In all three projections, even in the best-case projection for 2041– 2070, there were noticeable reductions in sugar maples in Ontario. United States researcher Tim Perkins suggests that in 50 years there may not be any syrup production at all in the northern United States. Murphy says these statistics mean sap producers need to start thinking about adapting now. “Farmers and producers can begin to be more selective about the sites they choose to plant trees on, to pick the best areas with better soil conditions and access to water,” she says. “It’s a small way around letting Mother Nature do her thing.” To understand more fully the role maple syrup plays in Canadian society, Murphy and Chrétien are also studying the value it brings to local communities, as well as the environmental benefits and the value it holds in aboriginal communities. “We can even think about how to use maple syrup to leverage the climate change issue to influence public policy and personal choices,” says Murphy. “Climate change is this weird, ephemeral thing that’s out there and people want to know, ‘How does it affect me?’ “Well, if it affects an industry in my community, and a cultural symbol, now you have something to hold onto. I see this as an opportunity to think about climate change in a very practical way.”
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ets m u r er. u i h M t l y l a l e e h K Canada on CEO
acti p i c o make i T t r Pa MISSION almer is on a by Dean P tography en | pho ory Oâ€™Bri ll a M y b story
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Murumets wants to share some statistics. “They will knock your socks off,” she says before launching into a list of sobering facts with lightning-fast recollection. • Only 15 per cent of Canadian adults meet Canada’s daily physical activity guidelines. • Ninety-three per cent of Canadian children don’t get one hour of physical activity a day. • Canadian children are “fatter, rounder, weaker and less flexible” than they were a generation ago. • Canadian children spend an average of six hours a day on screens, or 42 hours a week — as much as their parents spend at their jobs. • Childhood obesity has tripled in the last three decades.
As the president and CEO of ParticipACTION, the national voice of physical activity and sport participation in Canada, it’s Murumets’ job to get the message out and make Canadians move more. Improving the health and fitness of the nation is more important today than it ever has been. “The world has changed,” says Murumets. “As a society we’re much more sedentary. We’re much more technology oriented, so we don’t have physical activity in our everyday worlds. In fact, one in four Canadians is obese.” Dressed in a tailored black pantsuit, Murumets keeps her running shoes near to hand — she walks to work every day. Located in Toronto’s downtown core, the ParticipACTION offices include exercise balls and kettlebells, which are readily available for staff to use. Hanging on the walls are posters of the current advertising campaign encouraging parents to make sure their kids get at least 60 minutes of exercise a day. Murumets (MSW ’96) brings big-business sense to the not-for-profit. Prior to joining ParticipACTION, she was president of a publicly traded U.S. telecommunications company that she turned around from losing $1 million a month to a thriving business ranked seventh in Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50 Program. When the company was sold, she retired — at the age of 42. But when the opportunity to run ParticipACTION came around, Murumets didn’t hesitate. “Physical activity is part of who I am. I go to the gym. I love hiking and climbing. I walk to work. I love sports. It’s part of my life. When I had the chance to bring physical activity and business together I thought, hey, that’s pretty cool.”
Most Canadians have fond memories of ParticipACTION, which has been promoting health and fitness since 1971. “If you’re a little bit younger, you remember Hal and Joanne from BodyBreak,” says Murumets. “If you’re a little bit older, you remember the flexed-arm hang, and if you’re older than me, you remember the 60-year-old Swede. It’s funny, I know exactly how old someone is as soon as they tell me their ParticipACTION memory.” Murumets remembered ParticipACTION too, when her friend, an executive headhunter, said she should vie for the recently opened CEO position. Due to dwindling funding, ParticipACTION closed its doors in 2001, and when it was revived in 2007 it needed a leader with business savvy. Murumets “threw her hat into the ring” and beat out 250 other candidates to relaunch the organization. Today, ParticipACTION has one main goal: to help make Canadians the most physically active people on the planet. Murumets believes that with the right strategies and messaging, it’s realistic. To help raise awareness, the company is using social marketing to inspire Canadians to be more physically active. It is also connecting funding partners with grassroots organizations to spread the message, and implement activities and programming in communities across the country. “We create a property that will target a particular audience that meets the objectives of the funding partner — for example, moms. Then the grassroots
“I love hiking and climbing. I walk to work. I love sports. It’s part of my life. When I had the chance to bring physical activity and business together I thought, hey, that’s pretty cool.” organizations that are already in the communities help us develop it. We deploy the moneys, marketing and resources, and then they actually deliver it. We give them the resources and capacity to do their job.” Also important, says Murumets, is facilitating a knowledge exchange. ParticipACTION works with researchers, academics and professionals to collect data relevant to the organization’s goals and then deploys it across the country.
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Murumets says that incorporating business strategies like these into ParticipACTION’s mandate is key to the organization’s success. “I think that in the not-for-profit sector it’s really important to bring private-sector skills and experiences to the table. I think that it takes the public, not-for-profit and private sectors to go arm-in-arm to change the world, and that’s really what I’m doing here.” Murumets says she had a “hankering to change the world” after earning her MBA from Western University’s Richard Ivey School of Business and working for several
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years in the corporate world. “I felt like there was something important to do, and I really wanted to create value, but I wasn’t sure at that time what it was.” Her feelings led her to seek out a degree in social work. Although the University of Toronto was within walking distance of her home, she visited Laurier’s Waterloo campus and “loved it from the get-go.” “From beginning to end my visit to campus was an outstanding experience, and so I made a decision to drive two hours every day to go to school instead of walking to class. And it was a phenomenal decision.” When Murumets left her graduation ceremony in 1996, she was carrying three prestigious awards. In addition to her master’s degree, she received the Faculty of Social Work’s Gold Medal Award and the Governor General’s Academic Medal. She worked in the social work field for a few years, but wasn’t “changing the world one family at a time” as anticipated. She was also working in child welfare, which she found emotionally difficult. Murumets rejoined the private sector and was quickly successful. But she was bored, and decided to take a break with her short-term retirement. She spent the year travelling and decompressing. Then ParticipACTION came along. “Every morning I jump out of bed and I feel like this is my second crack at going to change the world,” says Murumets. “And it’s a bit of an amalgam of my MBA and business experience, my MSW and my social work experience, and my love of sport. I get to pull it all together with a little bit of street smarts, which happens with age, and away we go!” She has been named one of the Most Influential Women in Sport and Physical Activity by the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity three times, and was named one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 by Women’s Executive Network.
She is also a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization and has advised leaders from Canada, the United States, South America and Europe on how to develop focused strategies and realize results within their organizations. Murumets continues to be involved at Laurier as a member of the Laurier School of Business & Economics Dean’s Advisory Council and is a popular speaker at university events. She is also part of a group of 27 business leaders who are raising funds to support the new Global Innovation Exchange facility at Laurier’s Waterloo campus. “Laurier’s business school is an intimate learning environment that’s doing big things, and I think that’s a dynamite combo,” says Murumets. “I will tell you, I still feel so connected to Laurier — my heart is there.” Murumets lives the ParticipACTION message. She walks to work, goes to the gym regularly, and enjoys skiing and scuba diving. She has summited Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Rainier — the former was an incredibly moving experience on her 40th birthday. “Hitting the summit at sunrise — that was glorious, that was a big deal for me. Nature and physical activity, both are important to me and part of the spiritual piece of me.” When she’s not conquering mountains, Murumets is often jetting around the world, delivering lectures on sport and physical activity. When she’s at home, she enjoys outdoor activities with her niece, five. But Murumets understands that it can be
difficult for people to work physical activity into their daily lives — not everyone has the time or money. She says the first step is to help Canadians understand they need more physical activity, and then, most importantly, help them figure out how to build it into their everyday routines. “We don’t want kids donning spandex and heading to the gym if that’s not their thing. We think kids should just be playing. It’s really helping families discover ‘play’ again. “I don’t believe it will come from us preaching to them, and I don’t think it’s going to come from Olympic athletes telling them how easy it is to do,” she says. “I think it comes from average moms inspiring average moms, and with the awareness up and some tips and tools about how to build it in, I think it’s starting to work. I can actually feel the momentum turning and the metrics of our work are very promising. The metrics of the country are not there yet, but I believe the national stats are going to start changing in the next five years.” She smiles. “And then I can retire again.” ❖
Kelly Murumets with Canadian sprinter and Olympic gold medalist Donovan Bailey.
Kelly’s tips for integrating activity into everyday life • Take the stairs or park in the farthest spot from the grocery store. Walk or bike with your kids to school. • After school or dinner, when everyone usually heads to their respective screens, just take 20 minutes and go to the backyard or a local park and kick a ball around or make a snowman. Not only does it give you more family time, but it also makes everyone more active.
The stats show if parents are more active, their kids are more active. It’s indisputable — you’re a great role model as a parent. • At work, try walking meetings. Walk around the block or through a park. They’re often great meetings because you’re completely stimulated and you’re outdoors getting some fresh air. • Breaking up sedentary time is very important — as important as
getting physical activity. If you’ve been sitting at your computer for an hour, get up and walk around, get a glass of water or talk to a colleague. • Let children play. Children who are outdoors will play. That’s what their DNA tells them to do. If they’re indoors, every kid, at any age, is transfixed on a screen. That’s our society — they can’t help themselves.
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ReAL ironman 20
LAURIER CAMPUS Summer 2012
Speaker Dave Levac keeps the order in Ontarioâ€™s Legislative Assembly
LAURIER CAMPUS Spring 2012
scott mckay spends his days crafting powerful works of art from steel, iron and fire. He shares how an eclectic career path led him to his artistic passion. story by Sandra Muir | photography by Dean Palmer
LAURIER CAMPUS Summer 2012
blowtorch belches to life
inside a metal-clad workshop on a quiet, rural property near London, Ont. Scott McKay (BA ’95) calmly lassos the dancing, orange flame until it turns an intense white-blue. He is putting the finishing touches on one of his smaller projects — curly, metal bottle-cap openers. Soon he will turn his torch on his largest artistic piece to date, an abstract sculpture made from 1,360 kilograms (3,000 pounds) of stainless steel. An “artist-blacksmith,” McKay, 47, turns scrap metal and forged steel into birds, trees and abstract sculptures. His inspiration often reflects the enduring landscape of Canada’s Far North, where he worked for many years. Paired with a strong work ethic, his artistic vision led him to open Strong Arm Forge, a successful, full-time business, two years ago. On this early summer day, McKay’s work uniform includes a blue and white bandana tied around his head, faded jeans and a black t-shirt that reads “One Man, Many Hammers.” Tattoos peek out the bottom of his shirtsleeves, and his Aztec Orange Harley Davidson motorcycle is parked in the corner of his shop. Despite the noise of his anvil, McKay’s black dog Buddy is always close by with a ball at the ready. “Art draws my attention to the lines of an object, and I try to mimic that in a lot of my work,” says McKay as he waits for his 1,300 C forge to heat up a rod of mild steel. “Even my bike — I think it’s just so beautiful. There’s a flow to it.” Before focusing on his art full-time almost three years
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ago, McKay’s resumé read like a list of extreme jobs. He worked in diamond mines in the Far North in –53 C weather, learned to co-pilot bush planes in Yellowknife, NWT, and restored buildings while perched on scaffolding hundreds of metres above the ground. But he says running an art business is the toughest thing he’s ever done. “Not the creative process so much, but just getting out there and just keeping it going,” says McKay, sitting in the kitchen of his home, which doubles as an art gallery. “But the biggest thing for me is if I can make a piece and evoke a positive emotion out of people. That’s what I really like to do.”
mckay knows what he likes, and he can make
changes quickly. At 16, he told his family he was “done with school” and dropped out. A neighbour was starting a building-restoration company and asked if he wanted a job. McKay happily accepted. “I’m not sure if my family trusted that I knew what I was doing, but they trusted my neighbour and the fact that he was going to offer me a trade,” says McKay. He worked there for seven years. Then, on Dec. 10, 1988 — McKay still remembers the date — he again decided it was time for a change. He was sitting 400-feet up on a building in Toronto watching a 50-year-old coworker grind away bricks in a cloud of dust. “I remember it being very cold and windy,” says McKay. “And I just thought, there has got to be something beyond this. I don’t want to be doing exactly what I’m doing now when I’m 50.” He returned to high school to earn his diploma and in 1990 enrolled at Laurier, where his father was a professor in the Department of Geography
When he saw a newspaper ad for a millwright at a nearby diamond mine, he applied. For the next five years he worked at various mines in Nunavut and the James Bay lowlands in northern Ontario, first as a maintenance mechanic, then as a supervisor and project planner. He eventually moved to his current home and commuted to work, flying to the mines and staying away for up to five weeks at a time. But he was always thinking about his art. “Any free time I would have at the mine would be spent drawing and studying art, so an escape from the mine was certain to come,” says McKay.
it’s june and there are birds
all over McKay’s country property — some are made of metal and recycled parts, while others are nesting and building families. A Chipping Sparrow has made a nest in the crook of the arm of McKay’s sculpture of a man, which sits on the front lawn. McKay also has a tree in his yard that he refuses to cut down — even though one if its limbs recently crashed through his porch — because it has a nest in it. McKay’s soft spot for birds makes sense since they started him on his artistic path. In 1997, his sister bought a bird sculpture composed of found metal pieces made by Guelph, Ont.-based artist Stephen Lewis. “When I saw it, I thought, ‘I can do that,’” says McKay. He used cylinders for making rabbit pellets as the main body of the bird and other pieces of scrap metal for the other body parts. McKay continued to create his sculptures part-time for the next 10 years, finally deciding in 2010 to work on his art full-time. Being away for long periods for his work in the diamond mines was draining, and the idea of working for himself was a big draw. “I also like to jump with both feet into what I’m focused on,” says McKay. “At the mine it was great because I could apply myself so thoroughly. At home my art is my life, and as such I want to be very close to home.” and Environmental Studies. McKay considered majoring in anthropology, but when he took his dad’s first-year geography course, everything changed. “My dad was talking about some of the places that we had gone as a family like the mudflats in Nova Scotia, and it just clicked,” says McKay. Life clicked again when he went on a research trip to Axel Heiberg Island in Nunavut in 1994 with the university’s Cold Regions Research Centre. “Everything that is alive there has such an enduring spirit. It can withstand an insane environment,” says McKay. “I try to take that spirit and put it into a lot of my work today, especially the trees.” The north called McKay back in 2003. At the time he was working as a millwright at a processing and rendering plant in Kitchener, Ont. But he was bored, so he decided to change course and get his commercial pilot’s licence. He got a job working for an aviation company in Yellowknife — first loading planes and then co-piloting float planes to small towns and villages, some accessible only by air or water. He was often required to fly in severe weather. “One day we were flying in weather we definitely shouldn’t have been flying in and I could tell the pilot was getting concerned. Luckily he knew the area, but it really drove a point home for me. The pressure is there on the pilots to just go, and I don’t like that type of pressure.”
LAURIER LAURIER CAMPUS CAMPUS Summer Spring 2012
“It’s like any kind of muscle — you have to exercise and work it, and it grows and adapts and evolves.”
Scott McKay’s work includes abstract sculptures such as his commissioned piece “Pulse”, far left. Much of his inspiration comes from the landscape of the Far North.
McKay is mostly self-taught, but over the years has taken several courses. In 2006, while working in the diamond mines, McKay attended the Haliburton School of the Arts at Sir Sandford Fleming College and completed an intensive Artist-Blacksmithing certificate. Since then, he’s taken courses at the New England School of Metalwork and the Ozark School of Blacksmithing Learning. McKay believes the only way to improve is to continue to learn. “When people say to me, ‘Oh I don’t have any creative skills at all,’ I usually say, ‘That’s bull----.’ You have to work on it. It’s like any kind of muscle — you have to exercise and work it, and it grows and adapts and evolves.” McKay’s art has evolved. When he first started, he would create birds and caribou out of found pieces such as railway spikes, welding them into different shapes. Today, his signature is combining scrap metal and forged pieces. Most of his work is done with mild steel, but he
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also works with copper and bronze, which are more expensive. His pieces typically sell for $700 to $5,000, with larger pieces costing even more. While McKay sells much of his art through public shows and commissions, he’s starting to focus more on large public installations, such as the stainless steel piece he is creating for the Emergency Medical Services headquarters in Thunder Bay, Ont. The commission, called “Pulse”, is a turning point for McKay, who says he has more than 30 rejection letters in his desk drawer. “Interestingly enough, things really took a turn when I drew on my mining life and included all of the things I had done in my past, such as putting together multimillion-dollar projects and being able to bring together material and human resources in a fly-in environment,” says McKay. “I think it really hit a note and made them say, ‘Hey, this guy can complete a project. We don’t need to worry about him.’” McKay doesn’t worry about much. He enjoys the solitude of country life, but he will soon be moving closer to London so his fiancée, a police dispatcher, will be closer to work. Wherever he is, McKay is determined to make a go of his art. “There is no room for, ‘Well, they don’t like my work so I’m just going to go elsewhere.’ You keep pushing.” ❖
Make time to play LIFE HAPPENS. WE CAN DREAM WITH YOU. Is it time to travel, take in a game or a day away with the kids? GradVantages partners help you achieve your dreams with discounted tickets and great rates.
GRADVANTAGES… YOU’VE EARNED IT, USE IT! laurieralumni.ca/gradvantages
Former NHLer Rob Whistle ’85 drives for the green at the annual Laurier Golf Classic in Brantford.
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ÂŠ2010 Waterloo Region Record, Ontario Canada
Deborah Carter was a globetrotting businesswoman when a vow to her sister made her a mom. story by Nicholas Dinka
of parenthood when deborah carter received the phone call that changed her life, her international business career was on the fast track. After working in digital media at The New York Times and the Tribune Company, and in global communications at Liberty Global, one of Europe’s largest cable companies, she had landed a senior position at PICNIC. Based in Amsterdam, this leading European innovation and creativity platform brought together companies such as Pixar, Second Life, and Craigslist to brainstorm cutting-edge business and social ideas. She was 38 and worked hard at her job, often clocking 16-hour days. She loved the excitement of Amsterdam and her European lifestyle. “I lived the life of a singleton in those days,” Carter says, “working hard but socializing a lot and travelling to Paris every two months. It was a carefree life.” When her mother called from Cambridge, Ont., Carter instantly knew something was wrong. It was a winter morning in 2007 — 10 a.m. Amsterdam time, which meant it was 4 a.m. in Ontario. Her sister Shelley, who had given birth just a few weeks earlier, had suddenly collapsed and had been rushed to the hospital. She had suffered a massive stroke. Three hours later, Carter was on a plane, her old life receding
into the sky at her back. “When I got on that plane, I knew my life would change,” she says. “I just knew that something was over.” Carter (MBA ’10) has the easy confidence of someone used to working on complex, collaborative projects with people from all over the world. Back in Canada, she would need all of her wits and stamina. Shelley was in a coma. Her two-week-old son, Andreas, was in the hospital, too — born prematurely, he was still under close observation. Andreas’ father lived on the East Coast and was not a part of his son’s life. With Shelley incapacitated, there was no parent to care for Andreas. “I was visiting my sister every day, but also spending a lot of time with Andreas — feeding him, holding him,” Carter says. “It’s very important for children to have some connection, especially when they’re little, so we bonded.” Two weeks later Shelley suffered a new series of devastating strokes resulting in irreparable brain damage. The doctor delivered a grim prognosis: Shelley would likely die. That night, Carter spoke soothing words to the sibling she’d grown up with and shared so much with. The date was January 20, 2007.
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“I sat beside her,” Carter says. “People would come and go from the room, but I just talked to her, and said ‘Don’t worry, I promise I’ll make sure that I’ll look after your son. Please don’t worry.’” She likes to think that Shelley heard her and was comforted by her words. The next morning, at the age of 34, Shelley died. Carter had always been a hard worker and, according to friends, something of a force of nature. She liked to tackle obstacles head on. But now she was faced with a different kind of challenge. “I think the most time I had spent with a baby was 15 minutes,” she says. “It was like bouncy, bouncy, woooo, and then give it back to the parents.” the semi-detached house where carter’s sister lived before her death is located on a quiet cul-de-sac in the Preston area of Cambridge, Ont. A comfortable and peaceful spot, it had nothing in common with Carter’s meticulously renovated Amsterdam flat, with its whitewashed hardwood floors and stainless steel kitchen. Carter temporarily moved into the house to care for Andreas. She quit her job and sold her European apartment to become a stay-at-home mom. It was a difficult transition. “Cambridge was not a great fit for me,” says Carter. “I’m a big city person — I need the action to thrive.” The first six months were a kind of waking nightmare. Andreas was a beautiful boy, alert and engaged, but like many preemies he had colic. Day and night, he would cry and scream, and nothing Carter did seemed to soothe him. “For months, I would expect Shelley to pull into the driveway in her car,” Carter says. “I kept pinching myself, hoping to wake up, but a promise to a sister is an important thing, and I wasn’t about to back down.” Slowly things got better. Cambridge isn’t central Amsterdam, but it did provide a rich support network of family, friends and people from church. Carter also joined a parenting support group that became a lifeline. She learned tips on feeding, sleeping patterns
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and the importance of routines. She also met other successful career women who were mothers. “Community is so important,” Carter says. “I could never have made it through those times without that. I can imagine it would be overwhelming if you didn’t have anybody.” it took a year in her new role before carter started feeling settled. Andreas was coming along well, she had a handle on his care, and they even began travelling — day trips to Toronto, a short holiday in Cuba. In 2008, she officially adopted Andreas. But she missed her old home in Amsterdam. She missed the city’s great museums, concert halls, cafés and restaurants. And she missed the challenge and excitement of her career. “Amsterdam is my place,” she says, emphatically. “I knew that from the moment I first set foot there. It’s where I belong.” Combining the life of an international businesswoman with single motherhood seemed like an impossible task, but she missed her old life badly enough to try and get a semblance of it back. Carter took the first step by enrolling in Laurier’s MBA program. It would allow her to test the waters while living close to her support network — if she could handle a full-time MBA and motherhood, then she could handle a full-time career. She already held a Master of Journalism degree from Carleton University, but an MBA would broaden her understanding of business areas such as operations and finance. “She was very hard working and tenacious in class. She would speak up and get involved in discussions,” says Ben Amoako-Adu, a finance professor in Laurier’s MBA program. “She’s able to listen to different perspectives and find a balance between them. Her international experience really shows.” When Carter went to class, Andreas went to daycare and then often into her mother’s care. He was thriving and developing into a bright and outgoing child. After Andreas went to bed, Carter worked on her homework — about five hours of it each night. It
was the hardest she had ever worked. “Late nights, sleep deprivation, major struggles with the mathoriented subjects, but I did it,” she says, with the help of understanding professors who often accommodated her schedule with Andreas. “After my last exam, I was happy and relieved, but also ready for the next challenge. I was already focused on getting back to Amsterdam. I knew I could do it.” After graduating in 2010, Carter returned to the Netherlands with Andreas, determined to make it work. She found a nice flat on a beautiful canal in the heart of the city, and started a job at the Amsterdam School of Creative Leadership (THNK), a postgraduate program that prepares students for transformative leadership roles in major corporations. carter is warm and engaged and doesn’t dwell on life’s ups and downs. Her focus has always been on getting things done: confronting a problem, researching the heck out of it, making a plan and seeing it through. That approach holds true whether she’s helping coordinate a conference of creative leaders or selecting a nursery school. “When life pushes you down, get back up and keep going,” she says. “Turn hardship and suffering into something meaningful. You only have one life, so make the most of it.” Carter makes friends wherever she goes and always keeps in touch. As a single parent away from her family, she leans on local friends for help when she needs it and they are always willing to pitch in, whether it’s checking in on her or preparing meals for her and Andreas. Now more than five years later, Carter and Andreas are settled into life in Amsterdam. Last year she returned to PICNIC as director of sponsoring and partnerships, and Andreas, now five, is doing well in primary school, and is fluent in English and Dutch. They enjoy travelling together and have been to several countries, including Belgium, France, Germany and Italy.
“He loves parties, he likes to socialize, he likes music, and he likes to sing — he’s full of life, just like Shelley was,” Carter says of her son. “But he’s also fascinated by other cultures, geography and music from other places. I think maybe he gets that from me.”
“When life pushes you down, get back up and keep going. Turn hardship and suffering into something meaningful. You only have one life, so make the most of it.” Carter’s home is filled with photographs of her sister. And even though Andreas has no memory of his birth mother, he knows who she is through the stories Carter shares with him. Carter says her approach to life would not work for many people, and she has made huge sacrifices to live on her own terms. She’s still driven in her career, but no longer works long hours. Becoming a mother has shown her what’s really important. “At the end of the day, my sister’s death taught me how valuable it is to live,” she says. “You need to stop and smell the roses, not just work, work, work for the big house or fancy car. At the end of the day, it’s the relationships and the meaning that you bring to other people’s lives that is your real legacy.” ❖
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Homecoming 2012 Events | Sept. 28–30 Friday, September 28 15th Annual Dean’s Alumni Golf Classic Rebel Creek Golf Club Golf, Lunch and Dinner | $160 + tax per golfer Join us for an exciting day of golf as the School of Business & Economics kicks off Homecoming 2012 with a shotgun start at noon.
Athletic Hall of Fame Dinner Senate & Board Chamber $65 per person
Senate & Board Chamber 10:30 a.m. | Free Reminisce about your Laurier days with Fred Nichols, dean of students emeritus, host of the Laurier Legends Lecture Series. Our 2012 lecturer is Professor Emeritus of History and Director of the Laurier Centre of Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies, Terry Copp.
Faculty Open Houses Various locations across campus 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. | Free
The Athletic Hall of Fame, created in 1986, celebrates individuals, athletes and teams that have made outstanding contributions to varsity athletics programs. The 2012 inductees are: Art Lestins, Mike Choma, Sarah Zagorski, Laurissa Kenworthy, John Webster, the 1968–69 men’s basketball team and the 1989–90 men’s hockey team.
Alumni Hall 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. | Free
Saturday, September 29
Enjoy a tour of your favourite Laurier campus spots and facilities. Tours leave Alumni Hall every 15 minutes.
Free Pancake Breakfast
Junior Hawks – Children’s Program
Amphitheatre/Dining Hall Quad 9 a.m. – Noon | Free Start your day with a free pancake breakfast. Rain or shine!
Alumni Association Annual General Meeting Paul Martin Centre 9:30 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. | Free Meet your Board of Directors, have your say, find out more information about your Alumni Association and have a chance to win prizes.
Legends of Laurier Lecture Series
Come see what’s new and exciting in your faculty and reconnect with professors.
Homecoming 2012 reaches a fevered pitch as we cheer our Golden Hawks to victory! REMEMBER You must purchase a ticket to access the Endzone Tailgate Party. Ticket prices increase by $2 when purchased on game day.
Post-Game Dinner and Celebration Wilf’s Pub | 4 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Order from our special Alumni Homecoming Menu Wilf’s is the perfect place to celebrate a Golden Hawk victory! Admission is free until 7:30 p.m. on a first-come, first-served basis.
A Golden Celebration: A Tribute to Fred Nichols Waterloo Inn & Conference Hotel 6 p.m. Reception | 7 p.m. Dinner 9:30 p.m. Dance featuring Blackwater Draw $60 per person
University Stadium | Noon; Free
The entire Laurier family is invited to attend this once-in-a-lifetime event to celebrate Homecoming weekend and to pay tribute to Fred Nichols’ golden anniversary at Laurier. Join fellow Hawks as we mark this momentous milestone, while celebrating Reunion classes.
Children are invited for story time, crafts, games, face painting and more.
Alumni Party at Wilf’s Pub
Football Game & Tailgate Party Laurier Golden Hawks vs. Guelph Gryphons 1 p.m. Kickoff $15.95 Adults (Football Game Only) $18.95 Adults 19 years of age+ (Endzone Tailgate Party) $11.95 Students (non-WLU) $3.95 Children 4–12 FREE Children under 4
Featuring Live Music 9 p.m. | $10 per person Purchase your tickets early to avoid disappointment!
Alumni Party The Turret Nightclub 9 p.m. | $10 per person To avoid disappointment, purchase your tickets early!
To learn more LAURIER CAMPUS Summer 2011 about Homecoming 2012 or to purchase tickets, visit:
PRIDE LIVES HERE! Sunday, September 30
Accommodations Discounted accommodations are available for all returning alumni and friends at the following hotels in the Kitchener-Waterloo area. More information about each hotel is available online. Quote “WLU Homecoming” when making your reservation to take advantage of the Laurier alumni group rate.
Homecoming Worship Service Keffer Memorial Chapel, Waterloo Lutheran Seminary 10 a.m. Join us for a special Homecoming service, featuring a performance by the WLU Alumni Choir.
Waterloo Inn Conference Hotel Booking cut-off date: September 10, 2012
5th Annual Laurier Loop University Stadium 10 a.m. | TBD per person Participate in one of four options: four-loop 10-km run, two-loop 5-km run, one-loop 2.5-km run, or one of three relays. All pledges are donated to Laurier’s Sun Life Financial Movement Disorder Research & Rehabilitation Centre (MDRC).
Experience Stratford Festival Theatre, Stratford 10:30 a.m. Bus Departs Laurier; 2 p.m. Showtime | $99 per person Enjoy a performance of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing at the Stratford Festival. Experience Stratford is being offered at a discounted rate, made possible by a subsidy from the Wilfrid Laurier University Alumni Association. Cost includes coach transportation between Laurier’s Waterloo campus and Stratford, lunch at The Parlour Restaurant, tickets to the performance and a Q&A session with two actors.
Delta Kitchener-Waterloo Booking cut-off date: September 15, 2012
The following classes and groups are encouraged to come back to campus to celebrate their milestone reunions:
Destination Inn Booking cut-off date: September 14, 2012
Class of 2007 | 5th Anniversary Class of 2002 | 10th Anniversary Class of 1997 | 15th Anniversary Class of 1992 | 20th Anniversary Class of 1987 | 25th Anniversary Class of 1982 | 30th Anniversary Class of 1972 | 40th Anniversary Class of 1962 | 50th Anniversary WLU Alumni Choir Reunion 1987 Men’s Football Team Reunion All alumni who graduated prior to 1961 will celebrate as part of our Founders’ Club. Are you a member of one of these classes? Be sure to visit laurieralumni.ca/reunions for reunion-specific details and to support your class gift.
All event details subject to change.
Holiday Inn Booking cut-off date: September 7, 2012
Homecoming Athletics Friday, September 28 Men’s & Women’s Soccer: Waterloo @ Laurier – 1 p.m. & 3 p.m. @ Alumni Field Men’s Rugby: McMaster @ Laurier – 7 p.m. @ University Stadium Saturday, September 29 Men’s Football: Guelph @ Laurier – 1 p.m. @ University Stadium Men’s Baseball: Brock @ Laurier – 1 p.m. @ Bechtel Park, Waterloo Sunday, September 30 Men’s & Women’s Soccer: UOIT @ Laurier – 1 p.m. & 3 p.m. @ Alumni Field LAURIER CAMPUS Summer 2011
OCTOBER 20, 2012
HOMECOMING 2012 OCTOBER 20, 2012
Research & Academic Centre Courtyard
5 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Free entry with hockey ticket.
Laurier Men’s Varsity Hockey Game Brantford Civic Centre
7:30 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Adults: $8 Students: $6 Children under 12: Free Laurier students: $2
the Wilfrid laurier university alumni association
ExcELLEncE cELEBrATing oUr chAmpions
ALUMNI SHARING KNOWLEDGE Share advice
our award winners Young Alumna of the Year
KAri KoKKo ’11
about how to prepare for careers in your field.
Schaus Award for Staff
gAiL forsyTh ’95
miKE hAncocK chris friEL Alumnus of the Year
pETEr AnsLEy ’66
Calling all Alumni: Join ask!
Be a resource
Hoffmann-Little Award for Faculty
for students and other alumni who are exploring career possibilities.
dr. EiLEEn Wood Faculty Mentoring Award
dr. JUAnnE cLArKE
Student Alumna of the Year
and network with the wider Laurier community.
sArAh hood Learn more about the Awards and 2012 recipients at laurieralumni.ca To nominate someone who embodies the spirit of Laurier for a 2013 WLUAA Award of Excellence, visit laurieralumni.ca/awards
alumni Presented by: Career Development Centre and Alumni Relations
Wilfrid laurier university Waterloo | Brantford | Kitchener | Toronto
wilfrid laurier university
Waterloo | Brantford | Kitchener | Toronto
call for nominations nominate in either category:
Athlete An outstanding player, great leadership or character
class 2012 of
Builder Outstanding contributions to athletics as a whole at Laurier nominees must Have:
1968-1969 Men’s Basketball Team
Participated in Varsity Athletics for a minimum of three years.
Let five years pass since they last participated in varsity athletics
1989-1990 Men’s Hockey Team
The induction ceremony will take place Homecoming weekend on Friday, September 28, 2012 in the Senate and Board Chamber. Cocktails 6:00 PM, Dinner 7:00 PM For more information, nomination forms or to purchase tickets for this year’s event visit us at: http://www.laurierathletics.com/halloffame LAURIER CAMPUS Summer 2012
keeping in touch
Conquering the Dragons’ Den by Mallory O’Brien
To prepare for her appearance on the reality series Dragons’ Den, Agata Majerski (BSc ’99) rehearsed her pitch every day for two months, speaking to printouts of the “dragons” she had lined up on her sofa. On the CBC television show, entrepreneurs pitch business ideas to a panel of well-known venture capitalists who then decide if they will invest in the business. When Majerski’s time comes, she asks the panel for $100,000 for 10 per cent of her company, StrollAir, and then calmly runs through her pitch. The judges are impressed with her knowledge and composure, and she lands the deal with very little of the usual Dragons’ Den drama. Majerski’s company, which she runs with her husband Martin (both are 38), sells innovative, European-style baby strollers that she also designs. “Although it doesn’t look like it, the experience was very nervewracking,” she says of her television debut. She actually met panelist Kevin O’Leary at a seminar three weeks before her pitch. “I bought VIP tickets, met with him and we took pictures. As I stood for the picture with him, I remember sweating, and I said, ‘You know what, if I am so nervous standing beside you for the picture, I’m going to die in the den!’ “So I practised and practised and practised. I even practised walking down the stairs in the house.” It’s just one example of the dedication Majerski, who
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immigrated to Canada from Poland when she was 17, throws into every aspect of her life. “My dad wanted something better for us,” she says. “When we lived in Poland he worked in Germany and knew hard work could pay off in a democratic society — Poland at the time was communist.” As a teenager, her goal was to become a doctor, so she enrolled at Laurier for biology and chemistry. She became pregnant with her first child (David, now 15) in her second year. With support from her parents, she continued her schooling full-time and graduated on schedule. After David was born, the long hours of medical school didn’t seem feasible, so Majerski applied to the Government of Canada’s Canadian Food Inspection Agency. When she wasn’t immediately hired, she continued to apply — for a year. She was three months pregnant with her second child (Mark, now 11) when she was finally offered a job. The Majerski children (including their youngest son, five-yearold Alex) inspired her to start the stroller business while she was on maternity leave. The couple wanted a European-style stroller
keeping in touch
for their first child, but couldn’t afford one because they were so expensive in Canada. “I thought why don’t I bring one in from Poland? Or a bunch? I could sell the rest,” says Majerski. She bought her first 30 strollers in 2001, and quickly sold them through newspaper ads and online classifieds. Majerski wanted to be more involved on the design end, and eventually created her own stroller that became the model for her business. Her two-seat strollers are completely customizable, with seats that can be turned so children can face the parent. There have been a few setbacks along the way.
A potential manufacturer stole her original one-seat design, but rather than feel defeated, Majerski saw an opportunity and came up with her hugely popular two-seat model. Today, she ships her strollers to stores across Canada and around the world. The Dragons’ Den experience has provided exposure and sales have gone up. “We wanted the money to help us with marketing, but even just being on Dragons’ Den helped us get our name out there.” She hopes it will be a lesson to pass on to her children: you can do anything you want to do with a little perseverance.
David Chilton’s advice to Canadians: cheer up
If David Chilton could give people just one piece of advice it would be this: cheer up. The personal-finance guru and bestselling author of The Wealthy Barber visited Laurier to promote his new book, The Wealthy Barber Returns, and to talk about his new role as a member of the popular CBC television show, Dragons’ Den. “We’ve lost the ability to distinguish between a minor inconvenience and a major problem,” he said. “When I’m interviewed, people often say to me, ‘Dave, you’ve always said ‘save 10 per cent.’ But if I could say one thing to people, it would be: ‘Cheer up.’ “We’re so lucky and we don’t realize it,” he continued. “If you are living in Canada and you are healthy, you have nothing to complain about.”
Chilton began studying economics at Laurier in 1979. At 25, he got the idea for a book. The initial concept, he said, was a humorous text about all the things that Canadians do wrong with their money. That soon morphed into a different structure: a guide to personal finance told in the form of a story about a fictional barber named Roy in Sarnia, Ont., who dispenses simple but sound financial wisdom to three young adults. The Wealthy Barber was first published in 1989. After a sluggish start, sales took off. The Wealthy Barber has sold more than 20 million copies and remains the all-time bestselling Canadian book. His latest book, The Wealthy Barber Returns, diverges from the fictional format of its predecessor but uses the same plain language and common-sense approach to managing your finances. That reflects Chilton’s own approach to life. Despite his quick wit and standup-comedy style, he is a self-described “low-key guy” who hesitated when first asked to join Dragons’ Den, a popular television show in which aspiring entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas to a panel of hard-nosed multimillionaires. But after taping his first five episodes in Toronto, Chilton said he is “thrilled” that he agreed to join the show. Despite the tough exterior of the panelists, they “are all very nice people.” Chilton, who was awarded an honorary doctorate by Laurier in 2006, says the level of debt that many Canadians are taking on concerns him. “We define ourselves so much by our possessions,” said Chilton, who lives in a modest 1,300-square-foot home. “I call it the ‘granite countertop phenomenon’ — people feel they’re a failure if they don’t have granite countertops in their homes. “People are living beyond their means — it’s that simple.” Chilton ended his talk on a positive note, urging people to focus on the many good things we all have in our lives. “The average Canadian lives a better life today than kings and queens lived 50 to 100 years ago,” he said. “Our lives are so much better now. There are lots of good things to focus on.”
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keeping in touch
Laura Armstrong: Helping others is A Work of Heart
A friendship with a little girl named Doris who lives in the slums in Kenya spurred Laura Armstrong (BA ’09) to make a change. By combining her talent for painting and a passion for helping others, she is working to provide a brighter future for children in Kenya through her not-for-profit company, A Work of Heart. Founded in 2010, A Work of Heart is a small online business that sells artwork created by Armstrong and other Toronto-based artists. Half of every sale is donated to building projects in Kenya, including schools and daycares. Campus recently checked in with the young humanitarian, 25, about what inspires her. How did A Work of Heart begin? I have been volunteering with international not-for-profits for many years, and in 2010 I travelled to Kenya with The Global Youth Network. I became good friends with a nine-year-old girl named Doris who lives in the Mathare Slum — the second largest slum in Africa. Her family couldn’t afford the $400 a year to send her to school and I wanted to help. At the same time, a friend
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who was also on the trip found a postcard of a zebra he wanted turned into a painting. I’m a self-taught artist and offered to paint it for him. He paid me when we got home and I used that money to sponsor Doris. That was the start of A Work of Heart. How does it work? People can buy one of my paintings or send me a photo to paint. Many of my clients contact me through Facebook (www. facebook.com/aworkofheart3). Half of the proceeds go towards building projects in Kenya. I personally take the money back with me and make sure that local men are hired to do the labour. We also hire women to bring water, since women aren’t allowed to work. What projects are you currently working on in Kenya? We work with an organization called Living Positive Kenya (LPK), which is a support group for women and children with HIV. Through A Work of Heart, we raised enough money to renovate a daycare. We are now working on building a boarding school for children like Doris.
How did Tetley Tea get involved? A friend of mine, Josh Maltin (BBA ’07), has a connection with the production company that films the Tetley Tea commercials. He told me about the Tetley Tea campaign recognizing people who give back to the community — the company was giving away $15,000. I really needed a new computer to maintain my website and for editing videos and photos, so I sent in an application. I was so shocked when I won! Not only did I receive a new computer, but I also won a custom-designed website. There is no way I would have been able to afford any of it on my own, and I’m so grateful for that support. What do you hope to do in the future? I would love to get to a point where A Work of Heart is all I do (Armstrong is also completing a post-graduate degree in fundraising and volunteer management), but it’s a few years away. For now, I can do something I love, which is art, and I can help the people of Kenya. www.a-work-of-heart.org Learn more about Laura in this video: youtube.com/watch?v=JBfBlKfjmLA
keeping in touch
ALUMNI UPDATES 1940s Ward Kaiser (BA ’45) has written a book titled How Maps Change Things: A Conversation About the Maps We Choose and the World We Want. The book looks at maps by renowned mapmakers Gerhard Kremer (also known as Mercator) and Arno Peters, among others. It examines maps as change agents and in setting agendas — what are the messages sent by maps? What were these mapmakers hoping to accomplish with each of their creations? Kaiser explores how maps illustrate and influence the significant paths humans pursue. How Maps Change Things is available at www.newint.com. au/shop.
1970s Ernest K. Smith (BA ’71) has been elected treasurer of the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission. First appointed to the commission in November 2009, Smith, a resident of Niagara Falls, Ont., is retired from Canada Immigration after more than 31 years of service. Since retiring, Smith has been contracted by the International Region of Citizenship and Immigration Canada to work as a visa officer in England, Hong Kong, Trinidad, Saudi Arabia and the United States. Smith can be contacted at email@example.com.
Alan Morris (BA ’73) has written a book titled Missing and Murdered (Zebra Press), which explores the world of forensic anthropology and how information from bones is used to solve mysteries both modern and ancient. Morris is a professor in the Department of Human Biology at the University of Cape Town, Africa. For more information on the book, visit www.zebrapress.co.za.
1980s Scott Campbell (BBA ’89) was appointed vice-president, sales and distribution with The Economical Insurance Group. Campbell previously worked with AXA Canada and Aviva Canada. Greg Macfarlane (BBA ’89) is working in a new role as CFO at H&R Block Inc. Since graduating from Laurier, Macfarlane has held various positions managing corporate finance for multibillion-dollar companies. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
1990s James Dutkiewicz (BA ’92) was appointed vice-president and senior portfolio manager at
Sentry Investments. Prior to his new position, Dutkiewicz worked with Signature Global Advisors of CI Investments Inc. Robin Stevenson (MSW ‘95) has published her 13th book, Hummingbird Heart (Orca). A contemporary teen novel, it is a 2012 Junior Library Guild selection. Robin practiced social work for 10 years before becoming a full-time writer. She lives in Victoria, B.C., and is mom to an awesome eight year old. Visit her at www.robinstevenson.com. Melanie Coulson (BA ’96) was awarded a Michener-Deacon Fellowship for Journalism Education by Governor General David Johnston at the Michener Awards held at Rideau Hall in June. A former editor-in-chief of The Cord, Coulson works as a senior online editor at the Ottawa Citizen. Jane Archibald (BMus ’99) won a Juno Award in the Classical Album of the Year: Vocal or Choral Performance category for her recording of the Haydn Arias with Orchestre Symphonique Bienne, Thomas Rösner conducting.
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Soccer Hawks join professional ranks overseas Two former members of the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks women’s soccer team have signed professional contracts with the Doncaster Rovers Belles of the U.K-based Football Association Women’s Soccer League. Midfielder Alyssa Lagonia (BBA ’11) joined the team in March of this year and midfielder Tania Pedron (BBA ’11) became a teammate one month later. Lagonia was the 2011 Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) Player of the Year and had an outstanding four-year career with the Golden Hawks — she was a two-time CIS All-Canadian, a four-time
Ontario University Athletics (OUA) All-Star and helped Laurier win the 2010 OUA championship. Aside from her success with the Golden Hawks, Lagonia has also represented her country at the Under-20 World Cup. “This whole experience so far has been quite enjoyable, but that has a lot to do with the fact that Tania is here to share it with,” said Lagonia of joining the Rovers Belles. “Having her here is like having a piece of home with me — I don’t think it would be as great of an experience if she was not also on the team. The level of competition here is great. Every game is intense and close.” Pedron, a two-time CIS All-Canadian, played with the Golden Hawks for
five years, helping the team win OUA championships in 2008 and 2010. A strong defensive midfielder, Pedron is also a fourtime OUA All-Star and OUA West division most valuable player. “Playing football in Europe is a dream come true for me, so life is pretty unbelievable right now,” said Pedron. “Having the opportunity to play for one of the most successful female football clubs in England is incredible. What I absolutely love about England is the passion surrounding football and being immersed in a culture united by the love of the game.” For more on the Doncaster Rovers Belles, visit the team’s website at www.doncasterroversbelles.co.uk
LAURIER CAMPUS Summer 2012
postcard to home
By Amanda Donnelly (BEd ’11) I knew before graduating from the Concurrent Education program on Laurier’s Brantford campus that I wanted to spend a year abroad and experience a new culture by completely immersing myself within it. I came to this decision after travelling to a small village in Kenya with 23 other students in my program — we taught at a local school and participated in village traditions. I am a firm believer that the best way to learn about something is to experience it first-hand. So, when my studies were complete, I accepted a full-time teaching position at a Canadian international school in Cairo, Egypt. Moving here was a culture shock, from the language barrier and hectic traffic to the unrecognizable food. Slowly, I (along with my stomach!) adjusted to this new and unique city. The lifestyle here is incredibly laid-back, which took some getting used to, but has made me slow down and be more patient. Living in Cairo is inex-
pensive and very convenient for travel because of Egypt’s central location — I have visited many diverse countries, including Lebanon, Jordan, Greece, India and Uganda. Egypt, a country so rich in history, has many great archaeological sites to offer. I have been lucky enough to see the Sphinx, Saqqara’s Step Pyramid, the Bent Pyramid and Red Pyramid at Dahshur, the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, Abu Simbel and the Temple of Karnak. And I will forever remember my first camel ride! I had no idea how big and smelly they are, and how awkwardly they rise from their seated position. It took some getting used to while lumbering around the Great Pyramids in Giza. After a year of living and working in Cairo, I have learned so much, both personally and professionally. I hope to apply my new understanding and experience to my life and classroom when I return to Canada to continue my teaching career.
Are you a Laurier alumna/us living abroad and interested in sharing your story? Email email@example.com. 38
CAMPUS Summer 2012
calendar of events
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
For a complete list of events, tickets or more information, visit www.laurieralumni.ca/events
Golden Hawks Football
about this all-night art event, visit
Sept. 8, 2012
Visit the Waterloo campus and cheer on the Golden Hawks as they open the season at home
Conversations with Leaders
against the Queen’s Golden Gaels at 8 p.m. at
October 4, 2012
Join us as Laurier continues its Conversations with Leaders speaker series with Peter
Toronto FC vs Philadelphia Union
Lougheed, former premier of Alberta, in
Sept. 15, 2012
conversation with CBC’s Anna Maria Tremonti,
Return transportation from Laurier’s Waterloo
at the Calgary Petroleum Club. Details will be
campus to BMO Field is included — come out
available soon on the laurieralumni.ca website.
and support the Reds!
Marconi by Michael Longford and Robert Prenovault
Oct. 12, 2012
Sept. 19 – Oct. 27, 2012
Hubertushaus followed by fun and festivities
The Robert Langen Art Gallery on the Waterloo campus presents this mixed-media installation, which explores what remains of the first
Join fellow alumni for dinner at the at the Concordia Club. Get your tickets early for this popular event!
commercial transatlantic wireless station in Cape
Chudleigh’s Farm Family Event
Breton. Admission is free.
Oct. 14, 2012 Bring your family and enjoy all the beautiful
SPIN at Scotiabank Nuit Blanche
fall colours at Chudleigh’s. Enjoy wagon rides,
Sept. 29, 2012
nature trails and the petting zoo.
Stop by Laurier’s Toronto Office to view SPIN,
Celebrate with the WLU Choir!
2012 marks our 10th anniversary! The choir will be gathering Homecoming weekend (Sept. 28–30) for several events, including a social, cabaret evening and a performance on Sept. 30 at 10 a.m. at the annual Homecoming church service at Keffer Chapel. The choir is always looking for new
Annie at St. Jacobs Country Playhouse
voices, and all alumni are encouraged
stop-motion animation techniques, this video
Dec. 8, 2012
firstname.lastname@example.org or Kathy
projection addresses the concepts of motion,
We bet your bottom dollar you’ll love Drayton
Mauer at email@example.com.
light and sound. For more information
Entertainment’s production of Annie.
a video-based installation by Kitchener, Ont., artist Katrina Jennifer Bedford. By utilizing
to join! Contact Evelyn Herron at
E YOUR PROF DAT I UP for a chance to LE
LET’s KEEP in TOUCH! New address, phone or email?
HOMECOMI CO OMING NG 2 2012 PACKAGE PA
Update your alumni info and stay conncected: www.laurieralumni.ca CAMPUS Summer 2012
Forwell’s Super Variety in the 1980s. Always welcoming to Laurier students, the go-to store for convenience items closed earlier this year after 52 years in business.
Forwell’s Super Variety Generations of Laurier students are familiar with Forwell’s Super Variety. The iconic store at the corner of King Street and University Avenue closed earlier this year after 52 years in business. Established in 1960 by Joe Forwell, the store opened its doors at a time when convenience stores, especially those open late at night, were virtually unknown. Realizing that students were his main customers, Forwell stocked the shelves with everything an undergraduate might need, from deodorant to party supplies. He even cashed personal cheques, and extended credit and food to students who were short on cash. Forwell’s legendary support of students was recognized in 1999 when Laurier’s Alumni Association named him an honorary alumnus.
Forwell died in 1996 at the age of 83. His daughter, Bonnie Forwell Currie, took over the store’s management, and has worked to uphold the store’s reputation. “It’s just time for this beautiful store to retire,” she told Laurier’s student newspaper The Cord in a front page story in March. An unidentified local developer has bought the land and construction is underway.
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CAMPUS Summer 2012
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WHAT’S IN A LEAF? At the heart of it this national symbol honours our namesake, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, seventh Prime Minister of Canada. That alone is a unique claim among Canadian universities. But look closely. Laurier’s maple leaf is a microcosm of connectivity and support – every vein contributing to the health of the whole. The beauty and simplicity of the maple leaf can only be realized through this common purpose of nature. And so it is at Laurier – faculty, staff, students and alumni committed to a common vision: To Inspire Lives of Leadership and Purpose.
WILFRID LAURIER UNIVERSITY
Waterloo | Brantford | Kitchener | Toronto