VOLUME 52, ISSUE NO.4
December '19 CANADA’S WATER SCANDAL - TUITION FEE WAIVERS - THE POST-GRAD JOB SEARCH - CINDY SHERMAN’S SUBVERSION OF BEAUTY - AWAY FROM HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS - FESTIVE FOOD THE HITMAN’S CUSTODIAN - WHAT’S IN MY BAG - BEST AND WORST HOLIDAY MOVIES - WEXIT - WASTEFUL HOLIDAYS - THE BC BAIL - DIY DNA KITS - HACKATHONS - HOROSCOPES - MORE
letter from the editor
IT's too cold “Can you turn up the heat?” -me in every room ‘Twas the night before finals, And all through North Van; Not a student was sleeping, Each one with a plan. The grade scale was set, By the University with care; In hopes that you do well, Get a job and afford kitchenware. The students were nestled all snug in their chairs, While visions of beer pong danced in their heads. And coffee in its sleeve, and I at Cap, Had just settled down for a long night’s snack. When inside the library there arose such a chatter, I sprang to the front door to flee the obnoxious clatter; Away to Seymour’s I flew from the storm, Tore open a six-pack and threw up the next morn. The sun on the face of the new-fallen me, Gave the lustre of early morning misery; When, what to my wondering eyes of menace, But a miniature sleigh, and oh no! Did I hit the devil’s lettuce? With a dash to the bus stop, so lifeless and quick, I knew in a moment I was going to be sick. More rapid than eagles my classmates they came, And they whistled, and shouted, and called me insane. We spoke not a word, but went straight back to work, For we still had our finals, our group members were still jerks. And laying my head on top of my desk, They gave me a nod, for I had done my best. They sprang to their legs, and the team stomped the floor, And away they all dragged me to Cedar 224. But I heard my prof exclaim, as they came into sight, HAPPY FINALS TO ALL, I HOPE YOU STUDIED LAST NIGHT!
See you in the new year! -XOXO CC
RACHEL D'SA Editor-In-Chief
EVELYN CH UA
associate news editor
arts & culture editor
Ana Maria Caicedo
OPINIONS editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Cynthia Tran Vo
Kaileigh Bunting, Bridget Stringer-Holden, Alisha Samnani, Beth McCloy, Valeria Velazquez, Theodore Abbott, Mahi Kaur, Manjot Kaur, Andie Bjornsfelt, Tom Balrog, Benjamin Jacobs, Lena Orlova, Carlo Javier, Georgia Nelson, Ashleigh Brink, Nima Boscarino, Elizabeth Scott
Juliana Vieira, Mikaela Manuel, Sarah Haglund, Natalie Heaman, Rachel Wong, Alison Johnstone, Christine Wei FEATURED ARTISTS
Evelyn Chua, Annie Chang, Abby Jocson, Sydney Toews, Ata Ojani, Valeriya Kim, Danielle Adams COVER ART
Cynthia Tran Vo COLUMNIST PORTRAITS
Coralie Mayer-Traynor 4
VOLUME 52 ISSUE NO.4
table Contents of
Best Christmas Movie
Worst Christmas Movie
Lead in Water
Queer And Elder Program
Tuition Waiver For Youth
Unified Grant Program
Finding A Job After Grad
ARTS & CULTURE
Rape is Real Comedy Show
23 & Me
I Am A City
Far From Home
Mise En Place
Queer And Now
I Can Code You The World
What's In My Bag
INTERESTED IN CONTRIBUTING?
Email email@example.com INTERESTED IN ILLUSTRATING?
Submit your portfolio or examples of work to firstname.lastname@example.org
Christmas Trees: The Gift that Keeps on Killing
Unwrapping the environmental impact of Christmas trees KAILEIGH BUNTING Contributor JULIANA VIEIRA Illustrator
Standing an average of nine feet tall—topped decidedly with twinkling lights and fragile decorations— Christmas trees are a must-have for most households celebrating the holidays. According to The National Christmas Tree Association, between 25 and 30 million trees are sold over the holidays in the United States alone and account for over $1.3 billion dollars in sales. What most people don’t realize, however, is that even a natural Christmas tree can cause more harm than good to the environment. “Like anything we consume, there are downsides to Christmas trees, and there are negative impacts that you need to be mindful of no matter what type of tree you use,” Capilano University’s President of Equity and Sustainability Emily Bridge said. Bridge also added that even when people get natural Christmas trees, they are often disposed irresponsibly and pesticides or herbicides could have been used in the growing process of the tree. All of these factors add up quickly when millions of trees are consumed each year. When looking at alternative tree options, plastic trees are often no better than their natural counterparts as the carbon footprint of the non-recyclable plastic outweighs that of a natural tree. For people deciding to use a plastic tree this season, Bridge highlighted the importance of committing to the purchase and being mindful of where the tree might end up after its disposal. When thinking about sustainable decoration ideas, Bridge suggested to reuse the same ones every year. “When you do purchase new decorations, think about the longevity of those items, or buy from local artisans so you can guarantee high-quality products that will last a long time,” she said. In general, being more mindful about the products you purchase can go a long way. During the Holidays, Zero Waste Canada estimates that Canadians accumulate 25 percent more household waste. A significant amount of which is a by-product of decorations, gifts and single-use holiday items. In regards to alternative options for holiday
decorations, Bridge recommended a few off-tradition Christmas tree ideas. There are various creative solutions to move towards sustainability this season. For example, “trees [can be] made of scrap materials such as wood or garden tools, trees drawn on chalkboards, or even made out of piles of books,” Bridge said. When it comes to decorating, making your own decorations, using natural materials, and minimizing the purchase of new decorations are steps in the right direction towards sustainable holidays. Again, being mindful of wasteful purchases is crucial—only purchasing what you really need is paramount in reducing waste and is also healthy for your wallet. It is understandable that the Christmas tree practice may be rooted deep in tradition for some families and while Bridge “would hesitate to say that [tradition] is less important than its potential carbon footprint, it’s not to say that each one of us can’t do better.” This is an important mindset to hold when approaching this issue as no one person will be perfect overnight. Too often, the ideal zero-waste Vancouverite is held as the standard to meet when thinking about reducing one’s environmental impact. Yet in reality, care must be taken to transition properly so that everyone can reach this goal. Adopting a zero-waste mindset this holiday season can be a daunting task, but a necessary one. “I won't be getting my own tree this year, but I will likely rummage through my parents’ endless boxes of decorations for some items to decorate my own place,” Bridge said. If the real evergreen aesthetic is important to you this December, find organic evergreen branches that may have been discarded and make your own Christmas tradition. Alternatively, look in thrift stores for second-hand decorations. If you do buy a Christmas tree, remember to dispose of it properly at one of Vancouver’s tree recycling depots. Be kind to your friends and family this holiday season, and even kinder to mother nature.
Remembering the Victims of Gendered Violence Capilano communities hold vigil for the 30th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre MEGAN AMATO Associate News Editor
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the École Polytechnique Massacre that took the lives of 14 women and injured ten other women and four men. On Dec 6, 1989, Marc Lépine entered the engineering institute, separated the men from a classroom and shot the women. The Capilano Students’ Union is collaborating with the Woman and Gender Studies (WGST) Department to hold a ceremony for the victims of the tragedy. They also intend to localize and contextualize the issue of gender-based violence by including the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The WGST department has held an annual vigil for the victims since the massacre, often coordinating with the Kéxwusm-áyakn Student Centre in recent years. The event intends to raise awareness of the systemic causes of violence against women, especially against those in Indigenous and marginalized communities. This year the CSU approached the WGST department and asked to be involved in the ceremony on Dec. 6 for what is now the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. “I think it resonates for people in post-secondary because it happened in a college and it was students who were primarily affected,” said Maureen Bracewell, Gender Studies and Anthropology instructor at CapU. “There was a real split at the time in Montreal between people who immediately recognized it as an anti-feminist act that is embedded within social issues... and those who wanted to see it as a lone gunman.” There was controversy in the media following the tragedy between officials and community members regarding the issue behind the perpetrator’s actions. Many found themselves reluctant to explicitly state that it was genderbased violence despite that the perpetrator had deliberately targeted women. Others declared it a mental health issue, while some accused feminist groups of politicizing and propagandizing the massacre. “Those who have committed violence like that [may] not have grown up in a secure and safe environment but by focusing in on the perpetrator and isolating them as someone who may suffer from mental illness or just had a bad childhood, we are ignoring the systemic issues at play,”
said Emily Bridge, CSU President and Vice-President Equity and Sustainability. “That’s what the media did, they tried to take it away from the bigger issue and make it into an isolated incident.” The City of Montreal has now recognized it as a gendered crime and is replacing the old memorial plaque that had stated it “a tragic event” without the cause or mentioning its victims, with a new one reads: “This park is named in memory of the 14 women assassinated in an anti-feminist attack at the École Poly technique on December 6, 1989. It serves to recall the fundamental values of respect and equality, and condemns all forms of violence against women.” “While this one incident in Montreal happened a long time ago and seems isolated, I really do see it connected to a bigger issue, as violence against the land,” said Bridge. “To me, sexualized violence is a direct product of violence committed against the land. I really see it coming from colonialism and patriarchal structures. It’s important that we recognize this event and connect it to the local community.” Both Bracewell and Bridge emphasize the larger systemic causes of violence against women at play during the École Polytechnique Massacre and continue to be drivers of violence today. On June 3 this year, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls released its final report, Reclaiming Power and Place, which details the violent history of colonization against Indigenous peoples, especially Indigenous women in Canada, and outlines what needs to be done for these communities to find justice. “Honour their lives and honour their families and loved ones. Realise that they are missed and mourned,” Bracewell said, regarding what students should take away from the ceremony. “Number one is about giving them attention as people and then also recognizing the larger systemic issues which lead to the specific event at the Polytechnique and the ongoing violence faced by Indigenous women today.” All campus members are invited to attend the ceremony which will take place on Dec. 6 at 12:15 pm.
Local Ramifications to
Canada’s Water Scandal V. S. Wells details what it means for Vancouver to be drinking lead BRIDGET STRINGER-HOLDEN Contributor
A report on Canada’s water has been printed in the Toronto Star, Global News, National Observer, and various other publications. Over 120 reporters, editors, staff and faculty members from nine Canadian universities and ten media organizations have been working on a year-long investigation that uncovered the leaching of lead into drinking water. Wanting to get some international experience in journalism, UBC journalist V. S. Wells collaborated through a class offered at UBC in this top-secret investigation reporting on Canada’s water. Wells and her team had access to data from BC’s school testing program for lead, but it didn’t include individual houses. “We were basically starting from scratch,” said Wells. “We had a sense that this was a problem, we had seen all these news reports that popped up, especially about the First Nations’ water and lead being a problem there.” Wells used the Vancouver City Data Portal to choose what houses to test in Vancouver. The records don’t state anything about property ages, but includes open data files about property tax. Wells then made a spreadsheet and found properties built before the 1950s to test, which were the most likely to be affected by the lead service lines. After mapping out all the homes, Wells went doorknocking with the rest of her team. The standardized test was composed of three bottles: the first bottle was to be filled after the taps were left undisturbed overnight. Then, the second bottle was filled after running the water for either 30 seconds or a minute. Lastly, the third bottle would be filled after the taps had been running for two minutes. This three-bottle method allowed for a better idea of where the lead was coming from. In Prince Rupert, testing found that 84 percent of homes had water that was either unsafe or completely undrinkable. The city began to address the concerns more seriously after the investigation, yet still claim that the data is “misrepresentative.” “The local paper in Prince Rupert had covered it before and honestly that should have been enough impetus for the government to start doing something,” Wells said. 20 percent of homes in Vancouver had dangerous lead levels, but the full scope is hard to gauge. “Of the 15 homes
we tested, three had elevated lead levels,” Wells said. The City of Vancouver has left it up to the individuals to replace lead service lines without funding. Also, there are no laws that obligate landlords to deal with lead service lines or pipes, which can be problematic for renters. Some things that people can do to reduce lead in their drinking water is to run water for 30 seconds to a minute before drinking it. Having a shower first thing in the morning or washing your hands is a good way to dislodge standing water without running it and wasting it. Using cold water instead of hot will also reduce the likelihood of lead leaching. For those who know that there is a problem with lead but cannot afford to have the pipes replaced, filters that are National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) certified to remove lead can be purchased. Releasing their findings to other researchers is one of the next steps. Wells also thinks that more testing should be done at different points in the distribution system to get a better sense of how widespread this issue is. As children are the most vulnerable to illnesses from accumulations of lead in their bloodstreams, schools and daycares should be a priority. Wells has seen some concrete changes happen as a result of the research she was a part of, Regina being one example. “Regina has announced that it’s going to speed up its lead service removal plan, I think originally they weren’t intending on removing all of the known lead pipes [for 2025 years] and in light of our investigation, they’ve declared that they’re going to speed up how quickly they’re removing those pipes,” she said. To stay updated with the investigation and the release of the findings, look up the Institute for Investigative Journalism on Twitter @CU_IIJ for threads with the new articles as they are published alongside compilations of the work that has been done so far.
The CapU Queer Collective welcomes elders into their meetings once a month SHEILA ARELLANO News Editor MIKAELA MANUEL Illustrator
The CapU Queer Collective is unifying generations of LGBTQ2S+ folks by inviting an elder to share their experiences with students at the university once a month. Meetings are held every Tuesday from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm where CSU Advocacy Director Lori Kosciuw facilitates open discussion between the elders and students. “First, we do a quick round of pronouns, then a fun question and after we just get into it and we let the elder tell their story. Then we go into questions and discussion,” Queer Students’ Liaison Michaela Ellen Volpe said. There is a large generational divide seen in the LGBTQ2S+ community today, something the Queer Collective hopes to bridge. Volpe shared that the Queer Collective had been planning on inviting elders for some time. “For the last couple of years, we’ve all talked about it in meetings, but we didn’t have a concrete way of how to bring folks in, especially because there aren’t a ton of queer elders in the community,” Volpe said. These monthly meetings hope to share comprehensive knowledge of queer history with both students and people in general. Young queer folk, especially those just starting university, don’t often have extensive knowledge of queer history. As a community, LGBTQ2S+ groups have overcome much to gain rights and reclaim their voice. Thus, it is crucial to acknowledge the struggles that these communities have faced in the past in order to understand how much work there is still to come. “From the elder’s perspective, I think it’s nice to be able to show that you’ve come this far and you’ve done all of these things and you’ve succeeded and triumphed in all of this and it’s something that is really missing,” Volpe added. Stories play a part in this mutual sharing and
understanding of the past. The Queer Elder Program encourages elders to speak about their experiences so that students see what it was like to come out 30 years ago. While their experience may often be different from coming out today, there are plenty of similarities that others can draw from. These similarities become the thread that weaves generations together and promotes intergenerational understanding. “It helps to see that other people who are older than you have gone through [coming out] because I think there’s this idea in the older generations that [young Queer people] are following a trend when that’s not the case,” Volpe said. Diversity is an important aspect of the Queer Elder Program and the collective in general. Queer students from all backgrounds are welcome to attend. “We have a really diverse group right now. We try our best to tackle and approach [Queer issues] in the most intersectional way that we can. We try whatever we can to intersect identity and diversity into all of our meetings because I think it’s really important,” Volpe said. Sharing between generations also inspires young people to understand that they are not alone. “I think it helps seeing an elder who is successful, it helps inspire [people] to believe that they can keep going,” Volpe concluded. The Queer Collective meetings are held every Tuesday from 11:30 am until 1:00 pm in LB190. A lock is placed on the door but the password can be given to anyone who asks. Students are encouraged to join the meetings and get involved. Students can contact email@example.com and more information can be found at http://csu.bc.ca/.
Tuition Fee Waivers for Former Youth in Care The Provincial Tuition Waiver Program forgoes post-secondary tuition fees for former youths in care. Those eligible must be between the ages of 19 and 27 and have been in care for a combination of at least 24 months. The waiver includes any deposits required to secure admission to a particular institution, program or class. Many of those in care come from marginalized or unstable backgrounds and this program aims to help these students to “thrive, and not just survive”. In September 2017, BC Premier John Horgan implemented the program that granted free tuition to all 25 accredited post-secondary institutions in British Columbia. Prior to this implementation, only 11 post-secondary institutions participated and they set their own criteria regarding eligibility for youth in care. The July 2018 program expansion now covers students that are attending either full-time or parttime studies at an accredited BC post-secondary institution, Native College or an eligible union trade training center. Stephanie Thompson is the Communications Coordinator at the Federation of BC Youth in Care Networks—a youth-driven, provincial, non-profit organisation dedicated to BC youth in care. She is pleased with the path the Provincial Tuition Waiver Program has taken thus far. “With the Provincial Tuition Waiver Program, the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training has taken down a huge barrier for many former youth in care,” said Thompson. “Many young people rely on parents to pay their tuition, and for many youths in care, the government is their parent. With the enormous cost of tuition removed, 1,119 former youth in care in BC have been able to begin the journey of following their dreams and building the lives they want”. According to the BC Government, there is approximately 2,200 former youth in care aged 1926 in the public post-secondary system and 35 of the students covered by the Provincial Tuition Waiver Program attend Capilano University. The Student Affairs department at Capilano University is creating their own pilot program for students with experience in the care system. This program looks to provide these students with peer
More than 1,100 former youth in care are using the program since it launched in 2017 ALISHA SAMNANI Contributor
helpers who can provide informal assistance with social activities, well-being and personal support, as well as academic and life skills preparation. Application to the program has no age restrictions or criteria for time spent in care, and students can also apply if they grew up in a care system outside of BC. Currently, the Tuition Fee Waiver for Former Youth in Care program only covers students pursuing their undergraduate degrees and excludes students pursuing a Masters, PhD or any Adult Basic Education programming. The Government of BC should look to Florida when it comes to ideas for expansion. Florida’s former youth in care have until the age of 28 and covers students obtaining both undergraduate and graduate degrees. This is becoming increasingly important as jobs start to require more advanced degrees. There are additional grants and programs in place for youth in the British Columbia care system, including the Youth Futures Education Fund, the Youth Education Assistance Fund, and the Agreements with Young Adults program. The Youth Futures Education Fund provides assistance with additional expenses such as textbooks, rent, bills and childcare. The Agreements with Young Adults program covers youth that were still in care on their 19th birthday and are in pursuit of their GED, undergraduate degree, or completing a Life Skills program. The Federation of BC Youth in Care Networks created their own Dream Fund Bursary program back in the early 2000s when they saw a need for financial support in attending post-secondary. “As part of the Dream Fund, we award funds through our Education Achievement Bursary for tuition for former youth in care who are attending accredited post-secondary institutions.”
A comprehensive list of educational resources for former youth in care, including tuition waiver programs, scholarships, and bursaries, are available on agedout.com.
Big Plans for Democracy at the Lonsdale Campus Instructor Michael Markwick wants Capilano to become a leader in democratic communication JAYDE ATCHISON Staff Writer SARAH HAGLUND Illustrator
The results of the 2019 Canadian federal election were enough for many to question what democracy truly means. Through climate strikes, protests and voting, youth are demonstrating not only that they want their voices heard but that their voices matter. Michael Markwick, a Communications instructor at Capilano University, is developing the Insititute for Democratic Communication: Reconciliation, Human Rights and Inclusion within the Northshore. Through his use of the Unified Grant, there will be an event held at the CapU Lonsdale campus on Feb. 20th of next year— International Day for Social Justice—to encourage community members to voice their concerns and discuss serious issues such as reconciliation and human rights. The Unified Grant is an internal research grant awarded to Markwick through Capilano University. The $5000 grant will be used in work alongside community partners, such as Vantage Point as well as hiring a research assistant. Markwick and Vantage Point—a nonprofit that helps other nonprofits develop internal governance practices—has asserted that CapU needs to be the leader in democratic communication. They are specifically concerned with how they can help people claim their place to participate in public conversations about difficult issues. The funds from the grant will go towards making this a reality. Markwick began planning and applying for the grant in July, but he first had the idea in 2010 while writing his doctoral thesis on democratic communication. His passion for the topic shows when he recalls his interactions with Vantage Point and British Columbia’s Lieutenant Governor, Janet Austin. “I want us to have a conversation like
we have never had at the university before at our Lonsdale campus—really show that this university can be a driver in a global conversation about democracy, build a case to the president of the university to say here is what the community wants us to do. And then from there as a concept, we build out a business plan.” There is enough funding to hire on a research assistant (RA) to help the heads of the grant with making connections with community leaders across the North Shore, the province and even globally. “Government shouldn’t go in and do stuff with the community that they themselves can do. So how do we propose to do it in the right way?” Markwick asked. “The right way means from the very beginning it’s going to be dialogical and meaningfully engage people who have a concern and have something to contribute.” Those involved with hiring the RA are looking for someone with excellent interpersonal skills, as they will be interacting with diverse groups of people ranging from those at a neighbourhood house to the Lieutenant Governor’s office. They are searching for someone who is able to be respectful and kind to all contacts. Markwick said that not only will the RA be paid, but they will be involved in a significant democratic event where they will develop an incredible contact list and network. Markwick encourages students to look out for the job posting on the career hub. “Democratic communication can’t be a silo—it has to be something that brings people together.”
Finding a Job After Graduation How the Career Development Centre can introduce CapU students to the working world JAYDE ATCHISON Staff Writer NATALIE HEAMAN Illustrator
If this December marks the end of your academic journey, what are your next steps? Regardless of which direction you are headed in after graduation, the Career Development Centre (CDC) at Capilano University hopes to assist students in surviving the post-university world. Located in LB149 there is a team dedicated to guiding students through their degree in order to prepare them for their industry of choice. CDC Manager Nancy Ng understands that students are busy juggling assignments, classes and part-time jobs and cannot always attend during the office hours. Luckily, there is an alternative option: the CapU Career Hub website. In this site, students are able to sign in, apply for available jobs and view and register for upcoming events on and off campus. Students may associate the CDC with job searching for positions that require a degree. Yet, the staff and career ambassadors also address questions such as: what do I like? What are my values? How do I build my network? “All of those things should be addressed through your time [at Capilano University]. It is never too late,” Ng said. In any industry it is important to build a network. The CDC hosts opportunities every semester to help students and alumni create authentic connections. Students are able to apply for external industry events. The CDC will pay the fees to attend because they acknowledge that cost can be a barrier, especially for students. Additionally, if anxiety becomes overbearing for students, a staff member will attend the event to ease the process of meeting new people.
Exiting the life of a student can be a daunting adventure, especially when various fields require a minimum of two years of experience. This is why the CDC offers an event called “It All Adds Up!” that helps students reflect on their work experience during their program. Ng wants to remind students that “little things do add up, and if you take the time to reflect you’ll see how much experience and skills you’ve gained throughout your time at CapU.” At these events, students will also receive guidance on how to articulate those skills and build confidence. Some of the events planned for the fall semester through the CDC had to be cancelled due to little registration. This lack of attendance affects present and future students. With every event that gets cancelled, the interest of outside industry professionals dwindles. The possibility of professionals not wanting to work with CapU creeps in as there is seemingly no interest in these events. The CDC has Instagram and Facebook accounts that promote their events and students are encouraged to follow as their events are not always advertised on the Capilano website. Manager Ng and the CDC offer advice that helps students gain momentum in their field. The CDC will also highlight easy first steps into any industry. The team can tackle concerns such as how to get started early, what skills can be transferable and how to create a LinkedIn account or attend networking events. To alleviate stress that comes with nearing graduation, the CDC is there to lend students a hand.
The Career Development Centre has drop-ins from 11:30am - 12:30pm on Mondays and Thursdays. To make an appointment in-person visit www.experience.capilanou.ca
ABBY JO CS O N
FEATURED ARTI ST S
subversion of beauty
Sherman, who has been photographing herself for over five decades, continues to challenge the ways we see and depict the female subject.
ANA MARIA CAICEDO Arts & Culture Editor
To call Cindy Sherman a photographer would be inadequate. She’s so much more than that: art director, makeup artist, costumer, actress—Sherman takes on all roles to create her portraits, an auteur in the truest sense of the word. For over five decades, Sherman has been fashioning and photographing herself as various characters, and a retrospective of her work is now on display at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Never static or one-dimensional, Sherman’s characters are impossible to contain in a singular trope or stereotype. Since the beginning of her art practice and still today, Sherman has always chosen to leave her photographs untitled so viewers have no preconceived notion of what each character should be. Whether she plays a bardot-like vamp; an ageing, old-money trophy wife; or a terrifying clown, it’s the details of her photographs that set her work apart. Her nuanced use of makeup, costuming, prosthetics and facial expression prevent any literal reading of her photographs, inviting you instead into the malleable, fantastical worlds of her characters. Sherman’s early work as a student at the State University College of Buffalo in the 70’s opens the retrospective, and demonstrates an early interest in the artistic practice of physical transformation through clothing and makeup. “I’m disappearing in the world, rather than trying to reveal anything,” Sherman said in an interview with WSJ Magazine. “It’s about obliterating, erasing myself and becoming something else.”
One of these early works, an animated film nicknamed ‘Dolls Clothes’ by curators, features Sherman as a paper doll come to life, taking on and off different paper outfits. The film seems to underscore the retrospective as a whole, referencing how Sherman’s artistic practice of assuming identities is rooted in this process of dressing-up and trying-on. The Untitled Film Stills series, Sherman’s most popular work, is shown in its entirety within the retrospective. It’s a series of black and white self-portraits of Sherman as ambiguous female figures, and was inspired by 40’s and 50’s European film stills of women who, as Sherman has described, looked “blank.” The women in the photos are at once familiar and empty, embodying normative feminine beauty, but caught within in-between moments of expression. Perhaps it’s because the photographs are so generic that they feel so beautiful. “I know I was not consciously aware of this thing the ‘male gaze,’” she has said of the series, “I suppose unconsciously, or semiconsciously at best, I was wrestling with some sort of turmoil of my own about understanding women.” If Sherman grapples with the male gaze in the film stills, then her ‘Centerfold’ series collides with it head-on. The series was commissioned in 1981 by Artforum and takes on the wide-format of a magazine. In it, an intrusive camera looks down upon a series of women who anxiously gaze off and away from the eye of the lens. The series repulsed many when it was first released, deemed anti-feminist
because it captured vulnerable-looking women, mimicking the posing and framing of pornography magazines. Then Artforum editor Ingrid Sischy refused to publish the images (the only time she ever did so), fearing they would be misunderstood by the public. Sherman said of the series: “The horizontal pictures I did were meant to resemble in format a centrefold, but in content a man who was opening up the magazine and feel like the violator that they would be. I’m trying to make someone feel bad for having certain expectations.” It’s strange to consider how critics had such low expectations of Sherman as an artist and feminist upon seeing the centrefold series. Since the beginning of her practice, and still today, Sherman’s has consistently challenged the ways we look at and depict women. In her ‘Pink Robe’ series, which was created shortly after the centerfolds, Sherman plays a nude model in between being photographed. Her hostile expression and the increasing darkness of the images imply a resistance to the male gaze. The ‘Pink Robe’ series is the last time we see Sherman embody a character with normative feminine beauty. As her practice progresses, her characters become increasingly grotesque and absurd. But among the sickly women in couture, clowns, and mole-ridden renaissance models, her ‘Society Portraits’ are perhaps the most jarring. These images depict rich, ageing women posed with their symbols of wealth. “People have said she’s sort of referencing people who are collecting her. Sort-of these rich society women
Cindy Sherman Untitled #466, 2008 chromogenic print Courtesy of the Artist and Metro Pictures, New York
Cindy Sherman Untitled Film Still #17, 1978 silver gelatin print Courtesy of the Artist and Metro Pictures, New York
who would own her work, for example, or who she would see at parties,” said Zoe Chan, the exhibition’s Assistant Curator. “She’s referencing traditions of portraiture once again, where you sort of show your wealth and you’re not afraid or you’re not embarrassed of your wealth, and you just stand in front of it.” There’s something both hilarious and terrifying about these women who have so clearly lost their normative beauty, and yet strangely continue to define themselves by it. In an interview with Paper magazine, Sherman said of the images: “To me, it's a little scary when I see myself. And it's especially scary when I see myself in these older women.” In a world where women are increasingly defined by images of perfection on social media, Sherman’s body of work feels particularly relevant. Through framing, costume, and expression, her images make the codes of portraiture and female representation—ubiquitous, and yet, so often intangible—visible.
Cindy Sherman Untitled #216, 1989 chromogenic print Courtesy of the Artist and Metro Pictures, New York Cindy Sherman Cover Girl (Vogue), 1975/2011 silver gelatin prints Courtesy of the Artist and Metro Pictures, New York
A RT S & CULTURE
Rape Is Real & Everywhere Rape and the jokes about it are everywhere, but who are the people telling them? This comedy show puts survivors of sexual assault front and center, using humour to challenge rape culture and find catharsis SARAH ROSE Features Editor
“It’s like an East Vancouver pantomime, he lays down his coat on the wet ground outside the Wise Hall,” host Emma Cooper explained beneath the narrow spotlight of the Cultch theatre. At just over 6’0” they’re willowy, like the early fall trees melting into impressionistic dots of red, orange and yellow on the pavement outside. Their cropped brown haircut and tortoiseshell spectacles peer out at the audience. This is the setup to a joke about their rape. Cooper is the host and producer behind
Rape is Real & Everywhere, a comedy show written by and starring survivors of sexual assault. Since 2015 Rape is Real & Everywhere, the namesake derived from a graffiti scrawling in the same neighbourhood where Cooper experienced her assault, has been challenging the hegemonic position that certain topics are off-limits for comedy. It’s among the most controversial subjects in the genre, but the taboo arguably stems from a history of comedians telling “roofies are funny” gags. These antiquated quips
do little more than play into the silence and shame of sexual assault. The comedy of Rape is Real & Everywhere invites meaningful, enjoyable engagements with issues of power, privilege and difference — and these jokes are funny as fuck. “I mean, how clueless do you have to be to accidentally molest a child?” Comedian Jessica Pigeau told the audience of her assault as a child at summer camp. Pigeau has selective mutism during moments of intense stress. “I didn’t tell anyone what happened.” Performing in Rape is Real &
Everywhere has given Pigeau the catharsis to speak for other survivors when they can’t. Rape Is Real & Everywhere began as part of Hot Art Wet City in 2015, where they sold out three shows. “The response was so positive. We didn’t know we could talk about it; it was an exorcism of emotion,” Cooper said. “Some people go into the show thinking they’re not a survivor and leave learning that they are, they shift perspective on how they deserve to be treated.” The intense response spawned a crosscountry tour joined by a mosaic of local comedians and survivors. The performers range from women, men, First Nations and the disabled. The co-headliner tonight is Ryan Lachance, a seasoned comedian with quad spastic cerebral palsy. His career in comedy began in Halifax at a hair salon, the same city he would later meet Cooper in. “I was at the salon and the stylist tells me, if you don’t stop making me laugh, you’ll get a fucked-up haircut,” he chuckled. At his first show, they couldn’t get his wheelchair on stage, so he performed from the audience which earned him a standing ovation. Tonight, he’s joking about how when he was 15 he was sexually abused by a care aid who was “way too dedicated to his job.” The first time Lachance performed in Rape is Real & Everywhere was difficult. “I cried through the whole fuckin’ thing,” he admitted. Sharing his story repeatedly wears on him: “last time I did the show, it took me a month to get over it.” For Lachance, writing for the show is not much different than in his other comedy work. “What happened to me deeply affected me. I use humour to heal. It’s allowed me to be okay with who I am. I’ll never forgive them, but I can forgive myself when I never thought I’d be able to,” he said. Survivors of assault so often carry a weight in the form of lacerating guilt and humiliation for a crime where they are blameless, yet where the real criminal frequently faces no consequences. There’s an almost instinctual impulse towards secrecy. Of all the things rape strips away from a person, the most devastating is self-control. It’s these entrenched feelings of self-blame that prevent survivors from speaking their truth. Cooper, Lachance, Pigeau and every survivors’ work in Rape is Real and Everywhere gently urges on our braver selves.
It’s not a sermon about the deeply latticed wounds of sexual assault —it’s a comedy, and it’s recovery. Every story is crafted with deft hands, excavating scar tissue from those wounds and revealing the dignity in sorrow. They’re throwing heartbreak and trauma into the spotlight and basking in its neon glow like photosynthesis. It’s through the catharsis of humour that they’re taking back control. At the heart of the show is a celebration of resilience, putting faces, names and stories to an epidemic fraught with nameless victims. It's comedy that’s transforming the frames that typically hold survivor’s hostage. Now we’re laughing at rapists, we’re laughing at the ridiculous things that survivors are made to feel about their assaults. Lachance’s path whispers that we too can be extraordinary after rejecting the strictures that keep us docile. The shackles of powerlessness are stronger than any prison. “Ryan is all heart,” Cooper professed. “I want people to know this happens in the disability community so often. It remains silent, and people need to be heard,” said Lechance. Cooper would like to see the next phase of the project perform at more universities. “It’s a good place for the show to live. Six women at UBC were drugged just yesterday,” Cooper said. The survivor in Lachance, and in every performer, makes an offering to rip into the lie that they can’t speak, that their experiences can’t be shared on their own terms. After surviving their nightmares, they’re burning the ghosts left in the fog with the dawn of their own becoming. For a moment, Lachance reflects on his journey with the show: “I was four shows in, and I didn’t think I had it in me anymore.” Beneath his wide-brimmed hat, he alternates between emotive and introspective, with his heart seeping out of every story and every joke. “Then I looked at the audience and I said, ‘It's not about me anymore.’I’m just the catalyst for change, and it changed my life.”
For more information on upcoming shows visit http://rapeisreal.com/ or follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/rapeisreal
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I Am A City But Soon I Shan’t Be CapU instructor Roger Farr discusses his newly published book of poetry BETH McCLOY Contributor
Roger Farr, an English and Creative Writing instructor at Capilano University, actively promotes the avant-garde in his work both as an educator and poet. Through his work, Farr strives to stimulate the creative spirit that inhabits us all. Roger Farr’s new book, I Am A City But Soon I Shan’t Be, was written over a ten-year period and is an expression of the experience of the derive in poetic form. Like the derive, the poem drifts through various cities (New York, Berlin, Nanaimo, Vancouver, and others) observing the objects and people that inhabit those spaces. The poem is a phenomenological work that describes the author's encounters with the cities he explored using psycho-geographical research. I Am A City But Soon I Shan’t Be is a complex, layered rendering of Farr's state of being in city spaces where urban landscapes are dark and threatening. It’s no coincidence that Farr structured his poem using Dante's nine spheres of hell—his observations of the cities he wandered through reminded him of hellish scenes and terrifying nightmares.
RF: Thank you Beth. I think I recognize the struggle you mention. I hate titles and entitlement. Titles exercise far too much power over a text. They frame it, code it, interpret it, etc. Up there at the top of the page, looking down on all the other words… This book has had many titles. For a while it was called “604.” Then it was called “City Stream”. Then something else. The current title is actually a quotation from the German avant-garde poet and dramatist Bertolt Brecht. The “I” speaking in the title is London, immediately before The Blitz in 1940. It appears in Brecht’s War Primer.
BM: What was your inspiration in writing the poem? RF: This is a hard question to answer because the project took so long to complete I can’t recall why I began it! At times over the last few years it didn’t feel “inspired.” I would get up grudgingly every day at 5:30 and work on it, often getting only a line or two. All I can say is that the idea of using the concept of “the city” to organise a long poem has held a strange command over my imagination, and my dreams, for many years. In hindsight, I see that I had to leave the city to complete it. I did that in 2004.
BM: Where did the idea for your poem come from? RF: George Oppen’s astonishing poem about New York, Of Being Numerous, was an early influence. But the poem emerged from my study of the Surrealists and the Situationists, in particular the latter’s writing on the city, and what they called “psychogeography.” In 2000, when I was a graduate student at SFU, I wrote an essay on the surrealist city novel in which I coined, unknowingly, the term “psychogeographical novel.” I couldn’t find a publisher for the essay at the time so I posted it on my faculty page where it attracted the attention of some very astute readers. Around that time I began to rethink the writing and research I had done and started to experiment with poetic forms for it. For a whole bunch of reasons, though, I was not able to give the poem the attention it needed until about five years ago.
BM: You mentioned that your poem took ten years to write. What was the process of writing like? Were there any changes in your life over the course of those ten years that influenced the nature of the poem or even changed it? RF: Oh yes! For one, I moved with my son into a small (if not “tiny”) cottage on a large shared acreage in Snuneymuxw territory. This space, and this land, has proven to be extremely creative. I have completed two books of poetry and I am almost done editing collection of anarchist writing on sexuality in only two and half years there. But during the composition of this book, I also went through a difficult period of what we can call “personal losses”. Writing the book gave me a sense of order amidst a lot of grief I think. This is not thematized in the book at all. But the book is part of that process, in ways I likely don’t yet see. My next book is very different. It deals with death directly, through “gallows humour.”
BM: Explain the concept of psychogeography and how it framed your work.
RF: The term “psychogeography” was coined by the Situationist International in the 1950's to describe a practice used to illuminate hidden forces and currents —ideological, mythological, psychological, geological —that affect our experience of life in the city. The means by which psychogeographical research is carried out is the dérive, defined by Guy Debord as “the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment on the emotions and behavior of the individual.” Dérive means literally to draw from a flow, to follow a stream, a river. In the practice of the dérive, “one or more persons during a certain period drop their usual motives for movement and action, their relations, their work and leisure activities, and let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there.” To let oneself “be drawn by the attractions of the terrain” is to follow the ebb and flow of space and time freed from habit; it is to open oneself to anomalous experiences: the strange, the unannounced, the forgotten, the repressed, the marvelous. My book is composed of a series of such “drifts” through various cities and urban spaces, and returns to images of streams and rivers and “flows” —economic, libidinal, urban, etc —throughout.
BM: What were some of the surprises you discovered in your explorations of the cities that inspired your writing?
RF: So many…mostly unusual encounters with people. But I also tried to turn some of the more quotidian and banal patterns and textures of urban life into strange and unfamiliar scenes. I had to break with my habitual patterns of movement and seek out locations that held some kind of unusual ambience or atmosphere. Wandering the city at pre-dawn was my preferred time, mostly because I am a trained and dedicated early riser, but also because the light is so dramatic. Everything looks different at that hour.
BM: There is a negative tone about cities that runs through your work—you seem to not like cities very much, or at least, you are not very comfortable in them. What would you like to see the cities of the future become so that you might be enticed to return to urban dwelling?
RF: I would like to see the cities seized by artists, poets, anarchists and freaks, and transformed into immense theme parks geared towards providing pleasures we have not yet discovered. The parks should be turned into Erotic Gardens. Each day would begin with a Pride parade. Everything would be free. Entire city blocks would be dedicated to the happiness of children and the elderly. There would be no police.
BM: You are the convenor of the creative writing program at Cap— what is that? Why did you decide to become a teacher? What do you want to communicate about life to your students and to those who read your books? RF: The Creative Writing Program is currently a two year Associate of Arts Degree with ambitions and plans that I am not supposed to talk about! I became a teacher because I like being around students. Teaching allows me to research and share my creative projects and interests. I also feel like I’m doing something practical and useful. As for my thoughts about life, I’ll have to do some more thinking and writing get back to you on that one!
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A R T I S T F E AT U R E
FREYA WASTENEYS Managing Editor
Some feelings are hard to put into words. We draw on other languages and obscure vocabulary to sum up emotions, only to have our meaning lost in translation. Mimeomia. Anemoia. Kairosclerosis. For Rebeca Spiegel, art provides an outlet for the ineffable—a vessel for the things left unsaid. “I struggle with words,” said the second-year MOPA student from Brazil. “I just draw what I’m feeling.” Portraits, colour and constellations are the defining elements of Spiegel's otherwise experimental body of work. She incorporates stars, subtly etching them into her subjects’ skin to symbolize the “little universe” inside us all. Yet, despite the intricate details woven throughout Spigel’s art, it’s the eyes—or in some cases, the lack of eyes—that stay with the viewer. “I sometimes get overwhelmed with myself and have trouble making eye contact,” she explained. “I thought, ‘oh, what if I draw people without eyeballs so I can look them in the face.’” For some, the effect lends a haunting quality, and yet for Spigel, it’s a calculated effort to make her portraits less intimidating.
Spiegel struggles to identify as a visual artist, not wishing to be pinned to one mode of expression. “I’m still trying to figure out who I am, and who I am as an artist,” she mused. “I’ve tried a lot of things. We’re all constantly changing, so I don’t want to stay with one style. I know professionally that’s not a great plan, but really, I draw because I love it. I draw for myself.” She prefers to be called a creative and works without a preconceived plan. Despite her self-effacing assessment, Spiegel's work captures an honesty and depth that make it hard to look away. By seemingly drawing on elements of magical realism and intimate psychology, her work is both mysterious and relatable. It’s compassionate, but respectfully distant, allowing the viewer to make their own connections. “We’re all so different, but also so similar,” said Spiegel. “I feel like that’s something I want to capture.” For Spiegel, art is subjective, but it’s also universal.
Follow Rebeca Spiegel on Instagram @rebeca.spiegel
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VALERIA VELAZQ UEZ Contributor
Edito EDO Arts & Culture ANA MARIA CAIC
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DROWSY LENTILS THEODORE ABBOTT Contributor
The food cooked within my grandmother’s kitchen transcends itself and becomes an inextricable part of the household. Each chair, couch, wall and cabinet has been permeated over centuries with the earthy smell of garden picked vegetables. As I stumble into Grandma’s kitchen, I’m instantly reminded of what a kitchen is supposed to be. Every 11pm, last-minute meal had standing over my sink is forgotten, and I’m once again reunited with the ritual of cooking and eating. Of all the unforgettable meals she’s served during the holidays, her lentil soup is my favourite. Within this meal the ease of simplicity works to refine the details of perfection, and it is here in the rubble of this broken dichotomy that we find a soup that is simply perfect. My grandma's lentil soup needs no dollop of sour cream or buttered bread to accompany it. Standing alone, this bowl of perfectly saturated legumes represents decadence, an epitome of comfort food. For Grandma, the process of cooking is tantamount to that of enjoying what she has created. As food nurtures the soul, the act of making it calms the mind.
Mashed Potatoes VALERIA VELAZQUEZ Contributor
Although mashed potatoes might not be a traditional Mexican Christmas food, they certainly are in my family. Mom always makes them for the holidays because they’re easy to make, delicious and everyone in my house loves them. Creamy and buttery with a hint of rosemary, they’re always the first thing that runs out, even before the sweets. When I was a kid she would make me boil them, and then my brother and I would take turns mashing them. If only one of us did it, we’d get too tired, and wake up the next day with a sore arm from the massive amounts of potatoes we had to mash. As I grew older, my ideals surrounding food changed: I became vegan. I could no longer enjoy them, so I tried to come up with a vegan alternative for them. Although it might sound like something that could be easily turned vegan, let me tell you—it wasn’t. I tried for three years to make vegan mashed potatoes that tasted just as good as my Mom’s, but couldn’t. I’d end up watching the rest of my family enjoy those succulent mashed potatoes while I ate my knock-off vegan version of them (which actually turned out to be more expensive). What made Mom’s mashed potatoes so special wasn’t the ingredients she used. It was the fact that she made them with love: to share with the family on Christmas, where we’d all gather at the dinner table to eat (while my parents tried to stop my brother from throwing mashed potatoes at me when I pissed him off).
The meals we share during the holidays are so much more than just food. Holiday dishes can bring our families together, tear them apart, remind us of our traditions or forge new ones. Here, four people tell us about their most treasured holiday dish. RACHEL WONG Illustrator
In my family, the holidays have never been much about gift-giving or spending outrageous amounts of money on material items. Instead, when thinking about Christmas, I’m overwhelmed with childhood nostalgia catalyzed by different smells and tastes. This feeling engulphs me in the weeks leading up to the holidays and never fails to generate warmth in my chest. Classic Christmas jingles play softly in the background, and like stepping through a portal into the past, I am five years old again. I drag a small wooden chair over to my mother who is in the kitchen and manage to perch myself next to her by the stove. Ah-ha! I am just tall enough to peek into the large pot she is stirring. Instantly, my nose is filled with sweet hues of butterscotch and notes of maple syrup. My mouth is watering, and the heat from the stove makes my cheeks warm. I can’t wait to try whatever this decadent dessert is. “Penuchi,” my Mother says when I ask her what is in the large pot. This a word I can’t yet pronounce, but I still nod. My mother tells me that this recipe has been passed down by my Great Grandmother who was an immigrant to the prairies of Saskatchewan in the late 1920s. I nod some more and I ask to lick the spoon when it’s done. Mother laughs. I try to help cook, but to my disappointment, I’m too short to stir the pot. In fear of burning myself, Mother kicks me out of the kitchen. To this day, Penuchi remains my favourite Christmas tradition. Made with brown sugar, condensed milk and maple syrup, it’s a golden, square-shaped fudge that goes well with a good scotch or dark hot chocolate. I credit my mother for making it perfectly every year and can’t wait to lick the spoon clean again this holiday season.
I used to beg my grandmother to let me lick the filling off the spoon. Sweet and tangy, it was made from the wrinkly brown blobs that looked a little like bugs, mashed into a paste. Sticky prunes. Then, sitting on the counter, I would pinch the thick cookie-like dough into my mouth as Grandma put layer after layer into the gas oven. With each open and close, the heat would whoosh over my sockless feet dangling off the counter. “Can you tell me a story about Dad when he was little?” With each layer, another story. Some cakes have layers—vínarterta has seven. It takes four hours to make, and up to four weeks to mature. It’s a labourintensive, traditionally Icelandic dish, made to eat during the holidays with tea and coffee, particularly après-ski. For Grandma, it was a labour of love—a way to cling to her father’s Icelandic ancestry, an assertion of her sense of identity. She passed away without leaving the recipe, but the internet has left a legacy of suggestions. Each year my family strays a little further from the traditionally low-sugar cake—adding a little more sugar here, and a little less prune there. Following tradition, but making it our own, we try to remember the stories Grandma told us as we lick batter and filling off spoons. There’s meaning in layers after all.
KAILEIGH BUNTING Contributor
FREYA WASTENEYS Managing Editor
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CapU alumnus and former Courier editor Carlo Javier explores Filipino identity in a story about janitors who clean up murders for assassins. MEGAN AMATO Associate News Editor
Last summer as Carlo Javier struggled to dip his toes into the torrent of gainful employment, he found himself instead dipping his proverbial pen into the ink. His nine-page speculative fiction features an underground business of Filipino immigrants who moonlight as janitors and clean up after assassins. It was published in an anthology by Ricepaper Magazine in collaboration with the Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop and Dark Helix Press. “Janitors” is a narrative that plays on your imagination as it digs into issues surrounding the realities many Filipino immigrants face working in North America. Despite its moral ambiguity and late-night setting that plays on the noir genre, Javier’s main purpose was social commentary. Many of the FilipinoCanadian’s he knows work one or two jobs during the day before heading back out for night janitorial work. After Javier graduated and struggled to find work in the communications industry, he worried that all his experience and education would go to waste and he would end up a janitor. “Not that it’s a bad thing, but knowing that even though I had a college education and a lot of experiences, I always had this thought that this is a very real possibility,” Javier said. Instead of panicking, however, he found that writing was “almost like an escapist way...to find catharsis.” The story highlights a hierarchy between those who immigrated before and after high school through a character named Lorna, who can’t become an assassin because she wasn’t educated
in Canada. It’s a theme that is all too familiar to Javier, who emigrated from the Philippines with his family when he was 12-years-old. Many in his community who immigrated later struggled to find work in their previous fields despite their skill and experience. “A lot of them are very skilled and very educated. They have years of professional job experience but it’s not going to translate as seamlessly in terms of what industry expectations and standards are here,” Javier said. “A lot of dreams kind of get thrown away and forgotten through that. That character was a vehicle for that. I tried to make it as explicit as I could make it.” Javier graduated with a Bachelor in Communication Studies from Capilano University in 2017 and was a former Editor-In-Chief for the Capilano Courier. He credits his Communications degree—especially the faculty—as being monumental in preparing him for narrative writing. After graduation, he submitted his work to publications and short-story contests including Ricepaper Magazine. Despite his nonchalance and modesty regarding the progression of his writing career, it’s clear that perseverance and strategic planning are more involved in the process than luck. You can find Javier’s story in Ricepaper Magazine’s anthology “Immersion: An Asian Anthology of Love, Fantasy, and Speculative Fiction” on Amazon. For those interested in hearing more from him and other Asian-Canadian authors, a reading will take place at 1pm on Dec. 7th at the Sun Wah Centre in Vancouver.
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What we pack in our bags for the first day of post secondary versus a year into it is substantially different, far more minimal through trial and error.
Photos and text by MAHI KAUR
The busier life you lead, the more stuff you tend to have to carry. This is especially true for Leyam, a Musical Theatre student at Capilano University who lives a back-to-back life. Balancing school with work, fitness, social time and self-care requires him to carry a lot at once. To make these transitions between classes and his daily routine, he chooses to rent out a monthly locker at school for around $40.
To stay on top of things, he carries his audition book (a singers version of a portfolio) with him.
His “Dove Men + Care” toiletry bag carries his skin and hair prodcuts: Bull Dog face cream, Nivea Men Face Wash, Dove Men Care antiperspirant, Dove shampoo, Dove Men body wash, a Garnier mud mask, and Kevin Murphy “rough rider” hair gel. For intimacy scenes at practicum shows, he brings a mini Colgate toothpaste, an encased toothbrush, and some white plastic toothpicks. The blue plastic tube is for vocal warmups. His essential grooming materials include his tweezers, eyebrow scissors, and a brow pen.
To maintain energy throughout the day, Leyam’s brings peach tranquility and jade citrus mint tea packages, honey packages from work, protein powder, and pre-workout powder.
On occasion, Leyam brings his second bag, a Keith Haring x Herschel duffle, to carry even more, like his runners or umbrella. Among his the contents of his backbook, which include a Macbook and journal, one book catches the eye: Actions: The Actors’ Thesaurus. The book helps him put particular verbs to action in scenes— or “acting spicy-verbs,” as he calls it. In addition to a writing journal, Leyam also uses an “actors void” book where he does scene work for songs in visual expression (similar to a creative journal).
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@___atatata___ FEATURED ARTI ST S
Why Arthur Christmas appeals to people of all ages MANJOT KAUR Contributor
When naming a favourite holiday movie, the first few choices that come to mind may be Elf, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, or It’s a Wonderful Life. Or perhaps a Tim Burton holiday movie if you’re edgy enough (which is something I’ve realized I am not). Edward Scissorhands and The Nightmare Before Christmas are both visually striking movies that not only appeal to more than one holiday (hello Halloween!), but also define and reflect subcultures within our society that go against mainstream notions of what a “holiday” movie looks like. Despite the many wonderful options that exist, my favourite holiday movie for the time being remains Arthur Christmas, written and directed by Sarah Smith. The movie provides a 21st century spin on the timeless concept of the magic of Christmas. Santa’s sleigh, for example, isn’t fueled from people believing in Santa but rather “POTASH OF CARBONILOROXY ANILOCITRATE.” I don’t know what that is, but it does sound pretty scientifically testable.The movie satisfies the inner child, bombarding our overly logical brains with an unapologetic sense of magic. The 2011 animated film portrays Santa Claus’ North Pole workshop as an old family run business that has gone through a series of transformations reflected by leading global events of the 20th century, (two World Wars, industrialization, and the technological revolution). The opening scene takes us through the Santa Claus Hall of Fame— contrary to popular belief, Santa isn’t one person. Instead, it’s a position passed down through the Claus patriarchy, starting with St. Nicholas as “Santa Claus the First”, and leading to the movies current “Santa Claus the Twentieth”. Although Arthur Christmas is dressed as a traditional holiday movie about Santa, it poses realistic questions about our bureaucratic mass-consumer society.
The combination of old and new define this film, and the unique and eccentric characters provide endless entertainment. The film’s namesake, Arthur, is the youngest son of the current Santa, a cheerful passionate young adult, with awkward tendencies. Alongside Arthur, we also meet Steve, his overtly masculine older brother. Arthur’s father: Santa Claus the Twentieth, is a relaxed and traditionally jolly looking old Santa Claus who is close to retirement. We also meet Arthur’s grandfather: Santa Claus the Nineteenth, the decorated retired army general, with a hint of insanity. Of course, it wouldn’t be the Santa Dynasty without the mass employment of highly efficient elves. The conflict of the movie revolves around a present being missed, despite the long perfected system of Christmas gift giving. Arthur, who is not much involved in the actual operation of Santa’s gift giving, but responds to letters from children, is most affected by this error, and takes off on a mission to try and deliver the missing present to the child. The film plays with capitalist consumer culture ideology and brings both symbolic irony and wit to the plot. Arthur Christmas has a charismatic appeal for several reasons—it stays true to the traditional Christmas movie narrative, while answering the practical, adult-brain question of how Santa’s Northpole Workshop would fit into our modern world. It has a little something for both children and adults, without mature themes and underlying messages bleeding into the overlying magic of the holidays the way they do in movies like Elf or Edward Scissorhands. Overall, it’s a great holiday movie—you may even forget you’re an adult for a little while.
Stop trying to make Christmas with the Kranks happen ANDIE BJORNSFELT Contributor CYNTHIA TRAN VO Illustrator
Christmas with the Kranks is possibly the worst holiday movie of all time. Although it was based on a novel by best-selling author, John Grisham, the film absolutely bombed in the theatres, and continues to suck to this day. Despite the fact that it stars Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis, this movie is trash, and not even enjoyable trash. There’s something nightmarish about it—a reverse Christmas Carol. Just as chilling, but the Dicken’s tale actually had a good message. Every December, this movie pops up on my cable. I know it’s bad, but I have to watch it again to make sure it’s as bad as I remember. Luther and Nora Krank live in Riverside, Illionis, in a neighbourhood that’s main purpose for existing is to win the best Christmas decorations contest. The Kranks win every year. Imagine the Who’s from Whoville, but k-rankier. The couple’s 20-ish daughter, Blair, is going away to work in the Peace Corps. They experience some empty nest syndrome, until Luther gets an idea: to skip Christmas altogether and go on a Caribbean cruise! No presents, no decorating, no pine tree. He proceeds to type out a letter notifying everyone that the Kranks are skipping Christmas. The neighbourhood goes bananas. They begin stalking the Krank’s in an attempt to force them into changing their minds. Who cares if somebody chooses not to celebrate a
holiday? Everybody, apparently. They care so much, that they will not stop until they succeed in getting the Kranks to celebrate Christmas. It’s supposed to be a comedy, but it’s not funny. There are exaggerated gags, like the couple wearing scanty bikinis whilst getting a tan, then running into the town priest. Then there’s a botched Botox scene. My favorite, a treasured tinned ham is fought over at the supermarket, only to get loose and run over by a truck. Instead of laughter, these scenes bring up thoughts like—why was this made? Is this necessary? There is something sinister about this movie. It’s about conforming to the norms—about change being beaten down and attacked. In the end they try to wrap it up into a pretty bow, saying that skipping Christmas was a bad idea in the first place. The film is devoid of anything that makes Christmas special, such as anything to do with faith or sharing true joy with loved ones. What’s especially gross is the intolerance towards anyone going against the majority. It might have even been an interesting satire, if it was more self-aware. It’s even worse when it gets all sticky sweet at the end. Luther and Nora lovingly holding each other as they gaze at their house, decorated to-the-max and packed with their manic neighbors. The bad guys win at the end, and the good guys join the bad. Festive, right?
Will climate strikes change anything? Climate strikes mobilize people in a significant way SHEILA ARELLANO News Editor ALISON JOHNSTONE Illustrator
Climate strikes have become a roar on the streets, a unified voice demanding climate justice. To what extent do these protests incite action? I ask myself this every time I attend a climate strike, and I always arrive to the same conclusion: itâ€™s better than doing nothing. Showing your support and voicing your concerns is a valuable act in and of itself regardless of whether change is imminent or not. It is hard to gauge the effect climate strikes have on the world. What is clear is that strikes provide a resource for people to educate themselves about the climate crisis. They are creating awareness and from this action can ensue. This awareness is maximized by the amount of people joining the strikes and marching on the streets. Seeing millions of people sharing beliefs can incite others to change their preconceived ideas. Striking has the potential to ignite a chain reaction of change, shifting mindsets and asserting the desire for cultural evolution. If people see their cultureâ€™s values reflected in a march, they are more open to changing their behaviour. I felt this on a personal level after joining my first climate strike, which was when I first became interested in climate justice and politics. Today, I fight the climate crisis every day by spreading the knowledge I have and making conscious choices to reduce my carbon footprint. Speaking up has made me excited to share my values with others. All because of one climate strike.
Crowds also give big companies an idea of collective desires, and can incite leaders to rethink their approach to politically charged issues. Examples from the past prove that peaceful mass movements are effective in changing outdated systems. The Civil Rights movement in the U.S. and the Non-cooperation movement in India are prime examples of this. Protests create international discussion and promote solidarity. However, protests alone do not achieve change. They give a voice to a cause, which is important, but they do not fight legal battles that make change possible. This is why it is crucial for people to attend strikes while also changing the way they act. Young people are a powerful demographic that can push for change. Still, in order to reach climate justice, people must walk their talk. For change to be possible, people should be consistent in their actions. Protests are just one facet of the multi-layered process that is achieving change in society. Though they are a start, people have to push for change in their daily lives by shifting their behaviors and beliefs. As consumers, people have great power. By considering the environment before buying, big polluting companies see a shift in what people want and thus are pressured to change. Being conscious of the power of our choices alongside the power of our voice can incite a shift as long as we persevere. By rising, sharing and acting, change can be imminent.
Where do you think you’re going to go? A new Alberta separatist movement spawned from the federal election is stirring emotions across central Canada. TOM BALROG Contributor
Wexit—We exit—West Exit? Who wants to leave Canada? Wait, is it just Alberta or BC too? What About Saskatchewan? Would Manitoba want to go also? Because Manitoba isn't really part of the West. What would the country be named? Does that mean that a new currency would have to be created? What about a military? This is starting to sound like a half-baked idea. It’s almost like kids on the playground trying to divvy up the monkey bars, slide and rickety bridge because when the sides were picked to play house, Stew became upset that Susan called dibs on the swing set. Wexit may sound like a tantrum, but with livelihoods on the line, many people are upset and emotional. We are living in unsettling times with environmental uncertainty, and a changing Canadian economy. Industries are continually cutting jobs. People are agitated and grasping for new ways to deal with an uncertain future. Peter Downing is leading this newest charge of an Albertan separation movement known as Wexit. In February 2019, Downing paid for billboards in Calgary and Edmonton that read, "Should Alberta Ditch Canada?" A Wexit Facebook page was created in June 2019 and started gaining members fast. When the Liberals won a minority government in October, more billboards went up in Edmonton. Soon after, #Wexit started trending on social media with help from twitter bots and content aggregators. The Facebook group now has over 265,000 members, and subgroups have been created that run under the name Wexit BC, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Albertan separation sentiments are nothing new with origins in the 1930s and a flare-up in the 1970s under Justin Trudeau’s father. In a recent poll by ThinkHQ — 70 percent of Albertans questioned said they understood the reaction to separatist sentiments. IPSOS conducted a survey for Global News of 1,516 voting-age Canadians in October and 33 percent of Albertans said that separation would be in their best interest. Alberta separatists’ frustrations stem from equalization payments the province makes to Ottawa, job
losses, carbon tax and pipelines. Albertans are feeling increasingly alienated and underrepresented by the federal government. Saskatchewan shares a similar separatist attitude with Alberta. The poll says 27 percent of Saskatchewan’s constituents support separation, a nine percent rise from last year and BC is at 13 percent. The poll did not include Manitoba—the premiere was recently quoted as saying “I came in peace,” when meeting with Trudeau regarding division in the West. One has to only briefly look at the 2019 election results map to see that there is a growing division in Canadian politics. Alberta and Saskatchewan were painted conservative blue as well as half of BC. The environment is ripe for Wexit to continue to grow. Although if Alberta were to separate and bring along portions of Saskatchewan, BC and Manitoba, the amount of money and time it would take would be substantial. Do citizens have the stomach to create civil conflict in Canada? Separation would not be an easy task. The new territory would be a landlocked country. They would need a new currency, likely backed by the tar sands and would have to develop a military. Wexit is an emotional response from Alberta. Jobs are being lost, the economy is changing, and they are not feeling supported by Ottawa. Downing is registering Wexit as a party with elections Canada and is trying to do for Alberta what the Bloc Quebecois does for Quebec. More representation for Alberta would benefit the province. New industries need to be created to move away from oil and gas, but this isn't a talking point for Wexit. Alberta is releasing 62.4 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent compared to Australia’s 15.83 and 15.53 in the United States. Downing supports more research to be done capturing the carbon emissions rather than transitioning from the tar sands. All the buzz around Wexit seems silly because it is. Breaking up Canada isn't going to be suitable for Canadians in the long. Look at how smooth Brexit is going. Alberta is facing economic turbulence but division isn't the answer, it’s a cop-out.
The Grinch was onto something when he stole Christmas VALERIA VELAZQUEZ Contributor
When we think about the holidays, we immediately fantasize about the mountains of delicious food, the time we’ll spend with our families and friends and the gifts we’ll receive (and give, of course). The gifts…oh…the gifts. Talk about a rush of endorphins. Not knowing what they’ll be (sometimes we do know, but pretend not to), or wondering if we’ll get any this year can bring a kind of excitement that we really can’t explain, even if we pretend we don’t care. Will it be the sweater we’ve had our eye on for two months wrapped in shiny paper? Will it be a plane ticket to the place we’ve always wanted to go concealed in a big colourful box that compensates for the size? Will it be a new phone to replace the one we got just last year? Or will we get a boring pair of socks in a boring plastic bag? We don’t know, and yet, we still expect at least for one to come our way. However, do we know about the environmental or social impacts these so-called gifts have? A “gift” for us might not really be a gift for someone else...or something else (yes, I’m talking about Earth here). Remember, one person’s trash isn’t always another’s treasure. The truth is, our gift-giving practices are getting out of hand. Consumerism is exponentially increasing. It should come as no surprise that the holiday season produces tons and tons of waste. The products we buy come with egregious layers of packaging that we end up covering with yet another layer to make it a “nice-
looking surprise.” Even if we decide to go for an eco-friendly or sustainable option, it might not be as ethical as we think. If the product comes from a large company, there will most certainly be some aspects of it that won’t be as good for the environment as we imagine. The Zero Waste Canada Environmental group estimates that during the holidays, Canadians generate about 25 percent more waste than the rest of the year. Waste that often ends up in Asia—more specifically Malaysia and the Philippines, according to CTV News. We should start looking for alternatives to our packaging and gift exchange practices to help us reduce waste. There are several options for the goodies that we give away that can aid us in reducing our waste during the holidays. Thrift shops and DIY tutorials online teach us how to make gifts with materials we already have. We can even exchange things we already own and that way everything gets reused and nothing is thrown away. Winter markets are held nearly every other day around the city. There is even a winter market held at CapU with options for actually useful and meaningful gifts. And remember, not every gift has to be physical. Sometimes a hug, or simply your own presence can be the perfect gift. Isn’t that what the holidays are all about?
The Violence of Academic Streaming THEODORE ABBOTT Contributor
For many, high school is a formative experience. For some, however, this experience is tainted by administrative intervention. I often find myself taking an unaffectionate look back at my time in high school and wonder whether the students I attended ‘adapted’ classes with were ever able to wiggle free from the oppressive grip of academic streaming—the practice of segregating students based on academic performance. The answer, upon further inquiry, is often a resounding no. Among the many social implications that can arise from dividing students within a high school setting, the process of convincing students that they are unable to participate in regular classes seems to garner the most attention. This process— one that paints a vast array of learning styles with the same brush—is also a process that illustrates a systematic flaw in the way local school boards deal with students who’s learning styles deviate from the traditional pedagogy. The problem here is often not the student, but rather the underfunded system that fails in catering to even the slightest abnormality. While one might interpret these lower stream classes as a form of accommodation, test scores from vocational courses are not
reflective of a system that serves to benefit the student. An Ontario-based study of over 124,000 students found that, on average, students who had been moved into an applied stream scored almost 10 percent lower on both math and English tests than those in academic streams, thus illustrating a crucial flaw in how these courses fail to deliver what they are there to provide. It’s the casual reinforcement of this harmful applied-versus-academic ideology that has prompted researchers to take a more critical look, and their findings have indicated that social and racial inequality is perpetuated within an academically stratified school. A recent study published by York University stated that the percentage of black students enrolled in academic courses was a mere 53 percent compared to that of white students who had an enrollment of 81 percent in the same courses. Students with families of lower socio-economic status are disproportionately more likely to be persuaded into choosing an applied path. This sort of institutionalized oppression has become normalized. While it may not surprise the average cynic, it is the naïve parents who are sold a false narrative. In fact, there is no formalized process
outlined in any school boards’ policy related to informing parents about the potentially harmful impacts of academic streaming. This undertaking is left up to the discretion of the teacher, and at the administrative level, local school boards seem anything but willing to acknowledge the surmounting research condemning this detrimental practice. By way of transferring to a hippy commune disguised as a high school, I was able to enjoy an environment free of academic streaming. When considering a process that could have easily put an end to my academic career, I can't help but feel a great deal of resentment toward the public education system. Hegemonic systems of oppression are often described as operating on a topdown basis, but when a practice such as academic streaming exists ubiquitously within our high schools, our community members then become the proponents of tyranny. The status quo does not maintain itself—it is maintained by those who live and work within our communities.
Are you a crappy friend, or do you just have good boundaries?
BENJAMIN JACOBS Contributor CYNTHIA TRAN VO Illustrator
Imagine this: you plan to invite a good friend to an event. In the days leading up to it, you feel a small bubble of excitement—you haven’t seen this friend in a while, and you’re looking forward to spending some quality time with them. But, last minute, with a vague explanation why, your friend bails. Sound familiar? If so, you could be a victim of a long time Vancouver trend. Meet the famed BC Bail. Welcome to flake culture. British Columbians, particularly Vancouverites, have developed a bit of a reputation for this increasingly common phenomenon. At face value, it can be seen as very disrespectful. Almost like a non-verbal statement of “I don’t want to be your friend anymore”, or “I found something better to do.” In some cases, that’s exactly what it is and that’s pretty shitty. While it’s tempting to point fingers, these situations are often more nuanced than we make them out to be. For some, social situations are overwhelming, or perhaps they’re dealing with stressful life events that they are not comfortable voicing. It’s easy to jump to conclusions, but last-minute cancellations can be for a valid reason, even if they are not verbalized.
Many people argue that cancellations should only occur for serious reasons, but some things are simply none of our business. We impose expectations based on the extrovert's agenda, but what about the introverts trying not to offend? Introversion is not just something that people need to get over, or work through. While introversion is a spectrum, many introverts need time to recharge on their own. That said, regardless of introversion or extroversion, our lives are busy, and sometimes it’s hard to predict a draining day at work, or stimulus overload. We need to be more accepting of different people’s social needs. Perhaps the B.C. Bail isn’t the slap in the face we assume it to be. Instead, maybe it’s a sign that people are more in tune with what they need and the boundaries they need to set for themselves. That doesn’t make it okay to ghost your friends, or to always be a maybe on the Facebook event invitation, but saying no should not be the mortal offence we make it out to be. That said, maybe give your host a heads up the next time you’re planning a flake out. There’s nothing worse than making food for six, only to have to eat it all on your own.
total recall Tyler Dwyer is one of a handful of people with Superior Autobiographical Memory. He can remember everything that’s ever happened to him, but what does it mean to never forget? SARAH ROSE Features Editor
100 years is both a century, and an insignificant instant. You could say the same thing about all measures of time, both seemingly forever and nothing at all. The human mind is a confounding window through which to view the world – although, it depends on who you’re asking. Tyler Dwyer is a thirty-year-old private insurance consultant in Calgary, Alberta. He lives alone in an almost brutalist duplex smattered with awkwardly placed empty bottles of Alberta Premium and his loud chausie cat, Jax. A man of few words, Dwyer has a habit of looking off to the side or directly out to the horizon – where his memories are – when he speaks. He doesn’t waste time looking at anyone's face. His prosopagnosia (the clinical term for face blindness) makes looking at others faces like trying to piece together warped, illegible reels on a ViewMaster. He’s habitually cynical, and often as bitter as the sticky residue off the bottom of one of the empty pop-top cans of Alberta Genuine Draft on his coffee table – his usual quip for that is because he can remember details of every single day of his life since the age of three. Many people take comfort in imagining their memory is like a hard drive in a computer,
that the data of an event is stored exactly as it happened until it undergoes deletion. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Memory is not an event stored on any type of mental artifact, it’s an active process akin to wandering city streets drenched in pea soup fog, lined with landmarks and neon signs. Those neon signs are made of a thousand chromatic traces of dots clinging together in the shape of letters and words, the same way a thousand letters and words create the shape of you. Right now, Dwyer is pacing back and forth, Jax in tow, through his living room listening to Avatar. His drink of choice at the moment is three ounces of Roku gin from his trip to Japan over the summer, and what he guesses is two ounces of frozen vermouth and a fifth of frozen raspberries. “I mean, it’s not like I was going to do this sober and be talking very much,” he mused. We share a laugh, as old friends, although sometimes it’s odd to think that he remembers more about my time in high school than I do. “Our first meeting was all of twelve seconds, you stepped on me at work and apologized. You didn’t remember me.” Jill Price was the first to be diagnosed
with Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory (HSAM), and today there are roughly sixty known others with the condition, but possibly many more like Dwyer who have avoided a formal diagnosis. Dwyer paints the portrait of his life in a mixture of broad strokes and vivid details. He can actively recall any specific memory as far back as twenty-four years ago as easily as a memory of last week. The way he describes his life and each of the details he can remember so clearly comes across as more of a burden than a gift. At all times, his mind is rooted firmly in the past. “I guess compared to other people I don’t whimsically jump into the same mistakes over and over again,” Dwyer replied. “Not the emotional mistakes though, I jump into those all the time,” he added with glaring cynicism, biting into a frozen liquor-soaked raspberry. To Dwyer, the good times are just as up front and as a bold as the bad. “When I’m being presented with a good time it’s kind of overwhelming all of my past experiences that match up to that emotion,” he explained. “Then, being unable to forget all the dark shit you’ve ever done or has been inflicted on you? I think that’s self-explanatory.” Although, nothing is ever really gone forever so to speak, every memory leaves traces of unintentional fragmentation scattered across the streets you roam. Those are the landmarks. Fitting, then, that what’s considered the most difficult exam of any kind in the world is undertaken by London cab drivers. The name almost evokes a taste of occultic flavour, and its history is steeped in centuries of ritual: The Knowledge is a unique psychological ordeal. Passing The Knowledge demands an average of four years and thousands of hours of immersive, first hand study in the 25,000-
odd city streets of London that wind like a torturous web of overcooked pasta. It’s a city that rends the memory of even lifelong residents into anxious confusion at any moment. The streets are lined daily by individuals set adrift desperately looking for a recognizable sign or landmark. Their geographical question quietly lending itself to an existential one: “Where am I?” “One of my biggest fears is memory loss,” Dwyer explained. It’s a trait he shares with the majority of those with HSAM who find their piercing memory a key part of their identity. He mused for a moment over the idea of forgetting, “having a part of me missing, having this blind spot that I can’t probe around? It would be glaringly obvious – but you can piece together something by the hole it’s left.” While every region of the brain can exhibit plasticity to varying degrees, psychology professor Douglas AlardsTomalin explains that the hippocampus is the only region of the brain able to undergo neurogenesis – the creation of new neurons. A 2011 study of London cab drivers undertaking The Knowledge showed a gradual growth in grey matter volume in the mid-posterior hippocampus, an area of the brain implicit in spatial memory encoding. This theory of mental representation is a dynamic process called cognitive mapping. The process of completing The Knowledge also subsequently results in a decrease in the volume of the anterior hippocampus, although its role in memory function is still speculative at best. All the patients studied with HSAM exhibit increased volumes in the parahippocampal gyrus, an area engaged in emotional memory retention and in the uncinate fascicle, the bridge
involved in episodic memory. Whether the structural differences in the brains of HSAM patients is the causation of their superior memory, as it is with London cab drivers, a byproduct of it, or perhaps some combination of both is still unclear. What Dwyer and London cabbies have in common, though, is that they carry not just the secrets of inner-city navigation but are almost Gnostics of the deep historical memory of people and place. Dr. Dorthe Berntsen, founder of Aarhus University’s Center on Autobiographical Memory Research waxes on the remarkable potential of autobiographical memory. “it shows we may have to revise how we have thought about our ability to remember the past.” A 2013 study revealed that despite their extraordinary clarity, HSAM subjects and average people have an equal propensity to form false memories. Not even those like Dwyer are immune to the reconstructive mechanisms of the brain. Which is to say, there is no real memory. I can’t hold onto the moment I first thought these words, you can’t hold on to the moment you first read them. Together, we’ve created something completely unique that will remain unreproducible for the total sum of linear time. Attachment is the ultimate manufacturer of illusions. All memories are made by a thousand severed fragments, only to be unmade again. Like all the others in his field, AlardsTomalin can only speculate on the process of HSAM: “It might be that they have the memory, or they could be confabulating. Either way, we see all memory through the lens of the moment.” Perhaps the real question buried at the heart of studying superior autobiographical memory isn’t necessarily why we remember, but why we forget.
We Want Your DNA
DIY DNA kits thrive in consumer markets but corporate ambitions go beyond $99 deals. Vague results, property rights, and privacy concerns abound.
LENA ORLOVA Contributor CHRISTINE WEI Illustrator
“Science is as corruptible a human activity as any other.” Michael Crichton (author of Jurassic Park) writes in Next, appropriately setting the stage for the current era of genetic testing. You open the box. It comes in minimalistic white packaging: a clear biospecimen ziplock, a capsule, a buffer solution, and at least three sets of identical instructions – with pictures. IKEA for composing your own DNA sample. No doctor consent required – just your kit and a postmark. FedEx express ships the spit capsule to a federally certified lab in sunny California. Companies offering direct-to-consumer DNA testing make a beeline for the democratization of healthcare data; they give the power to the people to access and interpret their own DNA. One of these – 23andMe – made it to Time Magazine’s 2008 list of “50 Genius Companies”. At-home genetic test kits have been available for more than a decade, attracting more customers every year with no sign of slowing down. “By the start of 2019, more than 26 million consumers had added their DNA to four leading commercial ancestry and health databases,” reported the MIT Technology Review in February. To understand how it works think back to high school biology. Recall early mornings, blackboards and laminated projector-screen notes. DNA is the blueprint of life. Every organism on Earth has its own. Despite our height, various colours and shapes, human beings share 99.5% of the code: which means we only differ from each other by about 0.5%. The laboratories of 23andMe zero-in on that 0.5%. Scientists use algorithms
that pick out sequences in the code called single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs or colloquially referred to as “snips”). Sometimes, these SNPs can determine a person’s visible traits, health predispositions and relatives. DNA is unique in that it is simultaneously distinctly yours and shared substantially with your blood relatives. It’s at once, perhaps, our most intimate belonging and as easy to leave behind as a lost set of house keys. Although your body belongs to you, you are not its owner. The ethnic group matches are only as correct as the number of people that take the test, too. The most studied of these groups are European and North American; they buy most DNA kits on the market. Many less developed countries remain grossly underrepresented, warranting improvement of these ancestry services. “I have a lot of doubts… because the results change basically daily. Everytime I log-on, the results change. It's said that as more people do the test the more accurate it becomes. I'm not sure about that.” reflects China Cheneise Couture about her own ancestry report. It’s only possible to say that we inherited DNA from somebody else, but not to say where that somebody else lived. We live a history of migrations, colonizations, and other population mixing events. Greatgreat-great-grandma may be Argentinian, but it doesn’t mean she knew how to dance the tango. “I was connected with a few other family members who had been lost to adoption,” wrote one woman who took the DNA test offered by Ancestry.com. “There is no real connection there. My
daughter and I were reunited via Facebook and it was a thrill for me to see our DNA connect, too.” she added. Since 2014 in Canada, 23andMe offers a supplemental health component that screens for disease markers. “While [the test] not a diagnostic test for individuals with a strong family history of disease, it is a powerful and accurate screening tool that allows people to learn about themselves,” writes 23andMe founder Anne Wojcicki for New York Times. For example, if someone were a carrier for gene APOE e4 they are more likely to develop lateonset Alzheimer's than someone who does not carry the gene. Diseases are complex: they depend on both genetic and environmental factors. Knowing you’re a carrier allows the possibility of making proactive choices that restructure lifestyle, such as adopting a healthy diet and exercise plan. Self-knowledge is a great benefit but government agencies are slow to jump on the bandwagon. They encourage healthy skepticism before customers decide to hand over their DNA. In France, direct-toconsumer genetic testing kits are illegal as per the country’s bioethic laws. That’s not say France doesn’t use genetic sequencing, the law is more of a means to ensure genetic testing is done in conjunction with a professional genetic counsellor or a licenced doctor. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada warns, “when companies are not open or clear about their practices or when individuals do not take the time to review their privacy policies, there is a risk of undergoing a genetic test without knowing or fully
understanding what is being agreed to.” Yet 23andMe proudly guarantees that “you decide how your information is stored, used and shared.” Individuals have the right to ask that their data be destroyed. However, up to 80 percent agree to have their data shared for research purposes. This makes it easier for labs to acquire genetic data without laboriously recruiting patients for study. In this way, the consumers facilitate research. With consent, DNA can be shared with research labs, pharmaceutical companies and other subsidiaries. The genetic material is stripped of name, location and any other markers that could trace it back to the donor. Pharmaceutical companies use this data to discover new drugs, turn a profit. The individual “[acquires] no rights in any research or commercial products that may be developed by [the company] or its collaborating partners.” Bottom line, the donor isn’t compensated for their contribution. “How did you think 23andMe was going to make money? It wasn’t with $99 spit kits.” wrote Jonathan Gitlin on Twitter. 23andMe board member Patrick Chung shared with FastCompany that from acquiring DNA data from millions, we will have “Google of personalized health care.” Now that’s a lot of power, straight out of an episode of Black Mirror, a far Dystopian future. 23andMe was founded by Anna Wojcicki. Previously to becoming an entrepreneur, she worked on Wall Street as a healthcare investing expert. She was also the wife of Google founder Sergei Brin, making Google one of the company’s initial investors. The biggest shark in the metaphorical tank of information services invests in a genetic
testing company. 23andMe’s other investor is GlaxoSmithKline, a multinational pharmaceutical giant with whom Wojcicki reported a partnership. In a polished and positive manner Wojcicki writes on her website that the deal will: “accelerate [the company’s] ability to make those novel treatments and cures a reality.” In response to the announcement, one customer of 23andMe tweets: “Making money off our genetic data? I just revoked all permissions/ consent for my 23andme results. See ya.” Worldwide genetic databases raise concerns for individual rights. Canada lags in instituting thorough legislation, but recently passed the The Genetic NonDiscrimination Act (GNDA) in 2017. The law bars discrimination based on genetic information in the provision of goods and services. “Genetic discrimination has become an increasingly contentious topic in Canada,” The Guardian reported. Since 2017, the news outlet adds, “insurance companies will no longer ask individuals applying for life insurance up to $250,000 for genetic testing information,” but, “[these companies] may use genetic testing information for individuals applying for greater amounts.” Right to privacy doesn’t apply if the company is subpoenaed. While companies like Ancestry.com refrains from “voluntarily [cooperating] with law enforcement.”, that doesn’t stop U.S. citizens from willingly uploading their23andMe DNA results on GEDmatch. This open source, public database allows police access to over 1 million profiles. Such cooperation with law enforcement facilitated the 2018 arrest of California’s Golden State Killer. He is held responsible for dozens of murders,
rapes, and burglaries between 1976 and 1986. Later, a canvassing of public opinion showed that the majority of users – upwards 70 percent – supported the disclosure of information to police, when it resulted in catching dangerous criminals. Michael Begg, an instructor in CapilanoU’s Department of Legal Studies, underlines the murkiness of the matter. The area is new. It’s difficult to find legislation that defines the who, what, and how, of genetic business. This much is clear: a contractual clause may prevail over property or privacy rights, if it’s not prohibited by statute. Theoretically, if a person is fit of mind and has signed a contract where the terms of service are stated unambiguously, they may sign away their rights to DNA. Ready or not, genetic data continues to amass faster than we, on an individual level, know what to do with it. The race for bigger and better genetic products outpaces legislation protecting customers from invalid contract traps. The perfectly appealing white box sits on my desk. I stroll through the contract agreement on the 23andMe website. Soon, my DNA sample will be off to their labs. Crichton’s words remind us that not even science is impermeable to the human desire for novelty. Big data can mean big discoveries and big benefits, it can also mean big business. And who pays for that?
‘Tis the season to be jolly and falalala down the rabbit hole of Christmas movies JAYDE ATCHISON Staff Writer CYNTHIA TRAN VO Illustrator
Jane, a journalist on the rise is living out her dream in New York City. She left her small town in North Carolina to work for a medium sized magazine, and is on the path to having it all. Jane believes she is about to get the promotion she has been pursuing the last six months, but leaves the building with all her belongings in a box after losing her job to the boss's nephew. After losing her job and apartment, Jane loads her car and finds herself back in her childhood home. Just when she thinks she has hit rock bottom, she runs into the man that used to be the-boy-next-door. Now the once prodigal daughter, Jane finds happiness and love just in time for the first snowfall of the year - Christmas Eve. The scene fades to black as the couple kisses under mistletoe on her front porch. It’s that time of year again: Christmas. Overcrowded stores, gaudy lights draped across just about every suburban West Vancouver house and the annual homage to Charlie Brown’s scraggly little tree. Then there’s the twenty-four hour marathons of Hallmark Christmas movies. Jane’s story may not be a real Christmas film, but it certainly fits the plot of at least three of the Christmas films on television tonight. As thousands of annual viewers turn on the television to distract themselves from the yearly tides of modicum such as work and final exams in the winter seas of mediocrity, they are bombarded with images of santa, snow and seasonal cheer. It appears that no matter what channel or streaming service they scroll through, Christmas is inescapable. Whether we love
them or hate them (but still secretly watch them), there is no denying the success of Christmas and Holiday movies. Each year we learn that the limit doesn’t seem to exist on how many variations of the same holiday can be captured through film. Of every yearly holiday feature flick, there’s a certain deja vu to the Christmas formula that sparks a need to continuously create films with the same themes. The Hallmark Channel is one such company with the seemingly perfect formula. As it stands, Hallmark has 225 Christmas themed movies and has 24 new movies being released in 2019. Capilano University Acting for Stage and Screen alumni and Vancouver actor Camden Filtness (The 100, The Stand, Supernatural) credits the success of Hallmark films to the sheer number of dedicated fans watching them. “I’ve heard many stories of families who spend the holidays watching their favourite Hallmark Christmas movies each year, and discovering new ones as they come out each December.” Filtness reflects. The Hallmark Channel has a loyal following in the Western world (called Hallmarkies) and the productions make their way around mainstream television and streaming services like Netflix. During the darker months leading to Christmas, people want to escape their seasonal frustrations of less daylight, colder weather, year-end deadlines and project stress, and holiday movies provide that escapism. “Hallmark does a great job of making people happy, not only with the Christmas
movies but with their regular movies as well,” Vancouver actor Madison Smith (Salvation, Narcoleap, Aftermath) explains. “You’re gonna like the characters, you’re gonna have fun and you’re going to have a happy ending. It’s kind of reassuring that you can flip on the TV to Hallmark and know that you’ll be happy in the end.” Smith has been a part of the Hallmark family through working on five films, including Write After Christmas coming out this year. Even for those who don’t fit the description of a Hallmarkie, getting caught in a spiral of Christmas movies can be an entertaining way to spend an evening with family during the holiday time. Come Christmas day, every other genre quite literally hibernates until the new year, so it feels as if there is no other option but to sit back and get into the spirit of the holiday for at least one day. Alternatively, you can create a wholesome drinking game out of the cliches and plotlines that appear through the movies. Take a sip every time there is a meet-cute, three sips when the camera slowly pans over a Christmas tree and finish the drink whenever someone says “there’s still some time left!” There is an addictive quality in Hallmark movies, one that makes financial sense for the company to continue to create more every year. A majority of Hallmark’s plotlines involve a love story and the Christmas editions are no different. There is a guilty pleasure to the rom-com aspects of the holiday specials. As humans, we have a magnetic draw to love and romcoms because we are able to sympathize with the characters during their struggles and for the most part, we want a happy ending for the good guys. As the winter gets colder, we step closer to ‘cuffing season’ - a phenomenon where single people are propelled to tie down a relationship, and combat being alone through the holidays. Hallmark movies can be an inspiration to those entering cuffing season and trying to find their special someone. The projection of our expectations, or the desire for desire itself is more important than novelty. We feel safe in the fictional satiety that the protagonist wins, or that love is more important than money. On the Holmes and Rahe stress inventory, Christmas is more stressful than minor violations of the law. Between financial pressures and the expectation of spending time with family, there’s something to be said for the power of a fable that allows us to live vicariously through the idea of holiday bliss. Capilano University Acting for Stage
and Screen alumni and Vancouver actor Cardi Wong (Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Dragged Across Concrete, Supergirl) suggests: “in today’s day and age there’s so much hate and anger so why not take a night off, feel good, and face the world again tomorrow?” Wong felt his heart grow three times larger when he found out that some hospitals will play Hallmark movies through the holidays to help spread the joy. To know his roles in the four Hallmark Christmas movies have been able to touch across Canada and the US makes his part in the projects that much more satisfying. Working on the set of a Hallmark Christmas movie is generally a positive experience for the actors involved. The atmosphere on set has been described as a good place to be because, “we all know that what we are creating makes people happy and that’s all you can ever ask for with any kind of art form,” said Smith. “We shoot these movies in often less than three weeks and in that time you grow really close to the people that you’re collaborating with, both in front and behind the camera, because we all want to put something out there that puts a smile on peoples faces that watch them.” However, while actors and higher production staff may experience Hallmark movies positively there is another side of the crew that has found it harder to get into the Christmas spirit while working on set. Former production assistant (PA) Richard Bradley* has faced hardships from working on over 10 Hallmark productions. Throughout the years he worked with Hallmark, the days would often go to twelve hours and they would not get paid overtime wages. Only in the last two years has Hallmark joined the union, which allows for overtime hours and pay. As Bradley recalls, “my first day ever on set I watched trucks for 15 hours and no one told me what to do or how I would get paid or anything.” With turnarounds of about three weeks per project it can be a harsh job to sit outside for 12 hours a day in Vancouver conditions and not know what your job entails. To those hoping to pursue positions in the world of film, Bradley acknowledges that Hallmark is often a necessary place to get in the door and meet others in the industry, but to try and gain work on commercials or other unionized positions. Many of the Christmas movies are made to look like small towns throughout the US, but Vancouver is a large home for filming Hallmark projects. Hallmark gives chances on both new actors and new crew members hoping to get their foot into the
film industry. For both Madison Smith and Cardi Wong, they appreciate that Hallmark allows young Canadians to embark on their acting careers in their productions. For Wong, he was given the opportunity to be one of the first Asian actors to hold a place on a Christmas movie poster for the film Road to Christmas. “All my early bookings were just small service roles (dishwasher, pizza guy, etc) and not to get too lost in my own sauce, but I am physical proof that if you give POC [people of colour] the opportunity, we will take that chance and run with it.” Wong says. Through playing Chad Michael Murray’s adopted brother, Wong was able to break the monotony of an otherwise predominantly white couples that shine on the posters. Having representation of POC in the film industry is still a battle many are fighting to break through. Actors like Wong are working hard to demonstrate that their voices matter, and should not be left out of the narrative. Although Hallmark is making space for people of colour, there still exists a lack of representation of LGBTQ+ community. There have been hints to characters who may be gay, but there has yet to be a love story between a couple that is not seemingly heterosexual. This may be due to the large following in the United States. It is not news that turmoil exists for queer people in the US through the governments creating laws that and bills that take away basic human rights, so it is no surprise there is a lack of representation. If Disney is able to incorporate same-sex couples in their movies and shows, then hopefully Hallmark will make a transition into being inclusive to all. While there is a lack of representation, Hallmark is creating television shows and movies that hold a spot in many hearts across North America. The films are light, easy viewing that can be the focal point of a family gathering or background viewing while opening presents from under the tree. When people think of Hallmark, they think of a happy ending that allows for a tragedy-free viewing and while this may be cheesy, it works. Follow along on the actors journeys in and out of Christmas movies on their Instagram: @camdenf @cardiwrong and @madosmith21 *Name has been changed by request of interviewee FEATURES
Val er i ya Ki m
DAN I EL L E ADAMS
@lasnorgs FEATURED ARTI ST S
Mise en place On Failures
CARLO JAVIER Columnist
The first time I made Beef Wellington was also the last time. It was my contribution to a big family dinner a few Christmases ago. Bold move, I know. I started by searing the tenderloin on a sizzling hot pan with butter and aromatics like rosemary and thyme. Once all the sides were evenly browned, I let the meat settle, then I coated it with a generous layer of mustard before surrounding it with a pâté and mushroom mix. I dressed it with sheets of seasoned prosciutto, then finally, encased it with my mother’s homemade puff pastry. When I made this dish a few Christmases ago, I imparted on it some festive artwork. I carved out makeshift seasonal patterns on the surface of the pastry before brushing it with an egg wash and dusting the exterior with a final sprinkle of salt. The hardest part about preparing Beef Wellington is also the part where you do nothing. It’s where you slide the intricately and tediously crafted dish into the oven for about 40 minutes or so and hope the meat cooks to your liking. You can’t really check it because again, it is encased in pastry. You don’t really know how it’ll turn out — especially on your first attempt. It really just becomes an exercise of trust in the recipe, and in patience. I remember my Beef Wellington not turning out as I had envisioned. The tenderloin finished a touch too rare for the liking of my uncles and aunties. The mushroom, mustard and pâté mix tasted a little too foreign, a little too unusual for palettes accustomed to classic Filipino Christmas recipes. I remember guests eating it anyway, and offering me tips on how I might approach the dish differently when I try it again. I haven’t considered it since. The scary thing about failure isn’t so much the failure itself, but knowing that you might still fail even after all the
preparation you did to ensure success. It’s a thought that opens windows into a state of existential crisis, and questions about selfworth and helplessness. Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the times I’ve failed. But not so much the actual moments where I realize I’ve failed or am about to fail — but more so the period that came after. The period where I either tried again, or found solace in the comfort of failure, in the comfort of knowing that “I can’t.” I failed one class in my five years of university. It happened in the fall semester of my second year at Capilano University and my downfall was entirely my own doing. It was during a dark and irresponsible semester where I often found myself at home, or in the office of my parttime job when I should’ve been in class. It took me almost three years before I retook the class and erased the “F” I had initially deserved, with a passing, and far more respectable grade. I was already 19 when I first started to consciously learn how to drive. I started off well, picking up the mechanics of a vehicle and the “feel for the road” fairly quickly. I remember finding comfort in speed and being impressed with the amount of communication that happens between drivers on the road without actually speaking to one another. I crashed my father’s car weeks ahead of my planned exam. I haven’t sat in the driver’s seat since. I think about all the times I’ve failed and all the people I’ve failed. The losses, defeats and squandered opportunities. I think about the lost time, and wonder whether the effort and practice I put into any particular project or endeavour that wound up bereft of success has any meaning I can take solace in. I wonder if all the little things I learn along the way are really just details to a grander picture I’ve
yet to visualize. Still, I think about how my family ate the less-than-stellar Beef Wellington anyway and how even a disappointing centerpiece for a Christmas dinner was ultimately just a footnote to an otherwise joyous, annual gathering. Christmas was still Christmas, midnight still came and gifts were still unwrapped in elation. I think about how snow still fell and vanished, how winter left like it always does, to provide space for spring to blossom. I think about how summer still smiled and then once again it was cold, and another Christmas dinner came and went and how I never tried again. There is an unnerving comfort in marinating in our own cesspool of misery. I write this column not in response to a great failure, but instead in response to a realization that much like success, failure, too, is fleeting and temporary. That much like the rigorous road necessary for triumph, escaping the jaws of defeat also necessitates struggle. That much like the shock that can come with victory, disbelief and hesitation also manifest when the light at the end of every tunnel starts to flicker.
Turning Blue Get Your Head In the Game GEORGIA NELSON Columnist
I began playing basketball at the age of eight and participated in local club teams such as Steve Nash and 3D, which is where I came to love the sport. It wasn’t until I was in the eleventh grade that I thought I had a chance of playing on a university team. Now in my third year at Capilano University, I’m a proud member of the Blues. My sister was a significant influence in my life that made me want to play for the Capilano Blues. She had previously played four years for the team, and watching her succeed in her basketball career inspired me to strive for the next level. So in grade twelve when I was offered a spot on the women’s team, I couldn’t wait to get started and continue playing after high school. Beginning my first year as a Blues athlete was very exciting. I was taking classes that were interesting to me and finally practicing with the basketball team after waiting all summer long. Practices were hard at first in the transition from the high school level to a University team. But as the days went on, I began to adjust. When November came around, I was excited for our games to begin, but it was also hard to adjust to the new level. I slowly realized how difficult it would be to keep up with the schoolwork that seemed endless, and basketball that was pushing my physical limits every day, despite how exciting it was. I began to exhaust myself trying to keep up with the high expectations I had set and ended up not doing well in either basketball or school. Further into the season, I stopped seeing the floor. It was hard to deal with as it was what I’d been preparing myself for since high school. I found myself in a cycle where I would work as hard as I could at practice, lift weights in my spare time, and when I got home I would be too tired to do my homework or finish assignments on time. My grades struggled that year, and my confidence went down with them. Going into my second year, I practiced all summer working towards my goal of becoming
a better player and doing well in school. I gained some of my confidence back, but at the first sign of failure, I crumbled like a cookie. They were small mistakes due to immaturity and simply not knowing the game as well as I thought I did. These stemmed from not being able to trust myself with my own ability to play the game. If I couldn’t trust myself, how could my coach? I had to figure out a way to drive myself out of my own pit of despair and lack of confidence. Failure was a key factor in what I used to fuel my energy and the effort that I put into practice. You can look at failure as a negative aspect of any sports career, but from being a Capilano Blue on the women's basketball team, I have learned to use failure as a battery pack that I charge every day to make myself better. My teammates have also taught me about the positive side of failure. They always encourage me after a missed shot or if I get frustrated to not bring myself down and to keep going. The word “failure” may have a negative connotation, but to me, it’s a learning tool to make myself better in the long run. Now in my third year, coming off a summer session of intense training, I entered the season with a different mindset than in previous years. I have more trust in myself to play to the best of my ability. There may still be times when I slip up, but I know my new mindset is a step in the right direction. I hope I have given my coach enough trust in me to perform well on the court again. And now, I am ready to chase after another provincial title with my amazing team in hopes of representing the Blues at Nationals.
Turning Blue is a rotating column, featuring Capilano University athletes.
QUEER AND NOW Goals Versus Reality ASHLEIGH BRINK Columnist
Well, it’s nearing the end of the semester and the Courier is still letting me write these — go team? Thank you to the three-or-so CapU students who are actually reading this. Anyway, watching Grey’s Anatomy for the first time the other day, I noticed something. There are a few extremely distinct types of queer representation visible in popular media today. First off, there’s the bad stuff. The caricatures, the stereotypes and the punchlines. Next, there are the realists. They depict things as they currently are in the world. The good, the bad, and the downright ugly. Finally, there are those who present queer individuals and stories in an almost hopelessly optimistic light. They depict things as they should be. Ideally, setting precedent in the minds of their consumers for how people should be treated — how gayness in and of itself should be addressed. Between the latter two, both have different strengths and weaknesses. And ultimately, both are extremely important. This should probably go without saying, but the bad representation is really fucking bad. It is extremely damaging to the LGBTQ+ community, and negatively influences the heterosexual community’s interpretation of us at large. A prime example of this are the comedians who consistently make awful jokes that punch down. That is, jokes made at the expense of less privileged groups. That, in combination with using LGBTQ+ individuals as punchlines, contributes to the normalization of homophobic sentiment. That is extremely problematic. Moving the needle forward is hard enough without some clowns who think they’re funny dragging it right back. Especially when it’s the “edgy” comedians who largely appeal to those already leaning right of centre. Getting back to the positive, nicer side of things, there are two angles with which to view media’s queer representation: implicit and explicit. Implicit representation, referring to the media’s own view of the LGBTQ+ characters and their stories. Do they present the character’s gayness without fanfare? Without judgement? Do they ultimately just tell a story where a character happens to be queer? This implicit level of representation is always necessary. Regardless of the story’s approach to explicit representation it must present it in an easy, non-judgemental way. Don’t get me wrong, the character’s queerness and identity can, of course, play a massive role in shaping their story and their experiences, but the representation should never be framed exclusively around it. Explicit representation is where things get interesting, and creators can take some creative liberties with the direction of their story. The first approach they can take is that of the realist. Telling hard, real stories, warts and all. Showcasing the discrimination, and ultimately many of the hard realities that
LGBTQ+ people deal with, in many cases, on a day-to-day basis. A perfect example of this is the relatively recent HBO show, Euphoria. I won’t elaborate too much, as I have already spent an entire article rambling about it, but it is the best recent example of this type of representation I can think of. It tells a quite rough, yet very powerful and real story. Of course, it has all the hallmarks of exceptional implicit representation as well. On the other hand, there is also idealistic representation. The stories that are almost hopelessly optimistic. Shows where queer identities and gay love stories aren’t given a second thought. They just are. And even if there is a homophobic incident introduced, it is promptly and effectively shut down, (as it should be). It shows the audience how things should be in the real world. A prime example of this is Brooklyn Nine-Nine. It provides a window into a better society, where even the Jake Peralta’s of the world know what’s up. Ultimately, these two types of representation are both powerful and influential in their own right. One tells the stories of the less fortunate. Stories of those who have struggled against the weight of our heteronormative world, which deserve to be told after the LGBTQ+ community has been silenced for so long. The other paints a picture of the world as it should be. What we, collectively, should aspire to. So that maybe one day, queer kids will grow up in a world where it is okay to be themselves. I hope that day is not too far off.
I CAN CODE YOU THE WORLD # Hackathons, Hack the Planet! NIMA BOSCARINO Columnist
One of the best ways to learn to code is to attend social events where people code together, such as a hackathon. A hackathon is usually a one or two day event where teams of people compete to build a solution to a problem. For example, the City of Vancouver recently hosted an event called Decode Congestion where participants hacked on projects that could help ease traffic in the city by encouraging people to carpool, bike, or transit. The team that I was on built a location-based transit game, sort of like PokĂŠmon Go! Some hackathons put less emphasis on necessarily building solutions, and instead encourage contestants to focus on developing business plans and descriptions for prototypes of hypothetical projects. After a set period of time for development, contestants generally present their projects in a science-fair style before presenting in front of a panel of judges. These kinds of events are valuable for two different reasons. First, students and people who are new to the tech industry are given an opportunity to work on larger team projects which look great on their resumes. The organizations that run hackathons also benefit from the work that contestants do, since the organizations can access the untapped talent and expand on those new business ideas with the help of the participants. The organizations that host hackathons include non-profits, municipalities and for-profit companies looking for new perspectives on tough problems. Preparing for your first hackathon can feel a little daunting. Some people think that you need to have killer coding skills to contribute to a team, but there are actually many different roles to fill in a hackathon. Designers, for example, are in very high
demand. I was surprised to learn that a big component of succeeding at these events is having a nice user interface for the applications that you build, as well as putting together a glossy presentation. Non-technical people can also be very valuable in steering a hackathon team through ideation, project management, and market research. The best thing to do when preparing for a hackathon is to collect a group of friends to compete with if possible, and to remember to not take things too seriously! On the day of a hackathon, people often split into their groups and start brainstorming the possible projects that they'll take on. If there are multiple ideas, the team may do a small analysis to see which project is the most technically viable, and how well each project lends itself to impressing the judges. In a team of three or four people, some people will then take on technical roles while the rest of the team members get working on designing and preparing a presentation. It's important for a team to remember that the project they're building doesn't need to be perfect; it just needs to be a prototype. There's a reason they're called "hackathons", so you shouldn't feel bad if you cut corners a little bit. As with most things in the tech world, hackathons sometimes carry a bit of problematic baggage. First of all, attendees need to be able to set aside the time to spend at a hackathon, which simply isn't possible for some people. Attendees are also competing against people who may be able to push themselves beyond reasonable limits, such as pulling all-nighters to finish prototypes. Hygiene can sometimes be an issue at these kinds of events, coupled with traditionally unhealthy food options
which can be pretty off-putting. All of these can be pretty alienating factors and with a historic underrepresentation of many minority groups in STEM, I can understand why some people may have avoided hackathons. However, organizers in recent years have responded to requests for more inclusive events. There are some events that explicitly limit working time to between 9 AM and 5 PM so that participants don't work during the night. I've also noticed that the food offered at recent events has included plenty of healthy options, which is a welcomed change! There are definitely numerous benefits to attending hackathons. For someone starting a career in tech, they can be exceptional places for networking. I've gone to my fair share of job fairs and meetups and I'll be the first to admit that it's very hard to stay motivated and social while on the job hunt, especially because you can often feel like you're simply lining up for a chance to speak with an employer. At hackathons, however, you have the opportunity to network with peers while collaborating on an interesting project, and the employers will come to you during the judging process. I've also found hackathons to be an excellent venue for practicing skills like learning new languages, working with completely new technologies, and taking on new roles in a team setting. I'm definitely the kind of person who puts off learning new things sometimes, so it's nice to put myself in a structured environment where I can try that stuff with other people.
DEVIANT BEAUTY: My Big Nose
ANA MARIA CAICEDO Arts & Culture Editor
I have a big nose. Its presence—the awareness that it’s inhuman, grotesque, out of place—has lived with me for as long as I can remember. Our modern disgust of big noses can be traced back to antisemitism in mid 13th century Europe. Hooked, convex noses were singled out and caricatured as an ethnic trait of Jewish people, and became increasingly cemented in the European imagination as subhuman. During the mid 1800s, the “Jewish nose” was believed to be a racial deformity of people with Jewish ancestry— a belief which preserved for a century despite the fact that this type of nose was proven to not be ethnically representative of Jewish people as early as 1911. Interestingly, the modern nose job was developed in early 1900s Berlin by Jacques Joseph, who was Jewish himself. He performed rhinoplasties on members of Berlin’s Jewish community, who sought to conceal their Jewishness and pass as gentiles. We’re living in a time where traits that were previously considered unattractive by popular culture— fatness, body hair, dark skin— are increasingly being reclaimed and celebrated. The big nose, however, has yet to have its moment. Women with big noses are never portrayed as desirable or beautiful. Our notions of beauty and ugliness are rooted in the pervasive iconography of medieval Christianity, which characterizes big noses as physical indicators of beastliness and evil. My nose often feels like the last part left of myself that needs fixing. “If you just fixed the bump, you would be perfect,” my Dad often says to me. I want to hate him for it, but I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge here that I secretly think the same thing. It really does feel like if I got a nose job— if I could trade my aquiline nose for a smaller, straighter, cuter one— I’d finally be valid as a woman.
When I was fifteen, I visited a plastic surgeon with my Dad. We had gone after a referral from our doctor— I had some breathing problems, and my Dad was hoping I could somehow get a free nose job because of it. The surgery that would correct my breathing problem, the plastic surgeon informed us, was a small procedure that would not cover any cosmetic changes. And then he methodically explained all the ways my nose was irregular and exactly what he would do to correct it. He said it would cost about $7,000. There was no way my Dad was paying for that. The plastic surgeon confirmed the validity of my insecurities, and his price illustrated how far out of reach fixing them would be. In the This American Life episode “Tell Me I’m Fat,” Elna Baker describes how differently she was treated after she lost 110 pounds. “It was like going from one human to another,” she said. Suddenly, men were attracted to her. She received job offers. People greeted her on the street. And she felt really, really guilty about it. “It’s just such an unbalanced reward system. It took so much more kindness, hard work and ingenuity to be a person in the world when I was fat. All this took was not eating.” In her journal, she wrote: “I was happy when I was overweight, I had no idea I should be sad. I was free before. I’d trained myself not to care what people thought, and I’d done a good job of it… that’s the person I sold out to become this person.” She continued: “It’s sad that new Elna gets everything that old Elna wanted, because I think old Elna was a better person.” Sometimes I wonder about the person I would become if I got a nose job. What would it be like to exist as an objectively beautiful woman? Would the world be any easier for me? Would it open opportunities? What would it feel like to exist within the body of a pretty girl—you know, like the ones on TV, in magazines, on Instagram?
In a world where women are constantly assessed and valued on appearance, is it so bad to want to conform, to want to be pretty? I often think of Elna’s story when I think about what life would be like with a nose job. I know that there will likely come a day when I can afford one. It’s not any time soon, and I’ll be much older than I am now, but it will come. And when it comes, what will I choose? Do I get a nose job in favour of psychological peace and in doing so confirm this normative standard of beauty, rooted in antisemitic, racist iconography? Or do I refuse to get one— take the feminist high road, but continue to be plagued by my obsessive thinking, by this persistent and lingering feeling of inadequacy? If I go through with it, will I ever be able to forgive myself? What would feel worse: the everlasting insecurity, or the guilt from knowing I gave up on my values— on believing I’m a whole and worthy human being even with my big nose? The other day I asked my brother what he thought of my nose, and if I should get a nose job. I was expecting him to say something about how I should change it. “Be honest,” I pushed, bracing for his response. “Ani, it’s your nose! It’s what I know,” he exclaimed. “That’s what I love about your face, is I know your nose. That’s your characteristic.” The sincerity in his voice caught me off guard. “To change it is to conform to what everybody else looks like, or the standard of what you should look like. But this is you, Ani. That’s your nose Ani.”
Direction unknown Get Fired! It’ll Be Fun ELIZABETH SCOTT Columnist
Getting fired is a wildly powerful way to make you question your sense of identity. We’re so often culprits of letting our jobs define who we are. It’s the first thing you learn about a person on their online dating profile — right below their name, age and questionable image choices. It’s one of the most common attributes we share when we’re introducing ourselves to strangers and it’s how people describe us to others. Thanks to our increasingly intense hustle culture, when asked what it is “we do,” we generally respond with the thing that earns us the most money or social value, not the rest of the things that make up our lives. Our work does not define who we are as individuals. Or at least, we don’t have to keep letting it. But it took a mass firing and a jumbled mess of corporate wreckage left behind at my office for me to finally recognize that. Initially, this column entry was intended to be a painfully bright, overly-optimistic, ray of sunshine story about the dreamy workplace culture at an ever-appealing “digital agency” start-up. A promised land for young hopefuls looking to advance their careers — Silicon Valley-style — and master the art of ping-pong at the same time. I was going to write about the office dogs that stick their noses on your lap whenever you look stressed, the obligatory foosball table, and the snack racks filled with nostalgic treats to help you realize how little self-control you truly have. I decided not to write about all of those nice things at a nice job with the perfect work-fun balance because half of my office just got fucking fired. The aforementioned dreamy culture was obliterated in an instant, and a collective questioning of selfworth and identity commenced. On the bright side, what better motivation to launch yourself into a phase of immense self-discovery and unplanned exploration than to be fired? Seriously. Just get fucking fired! It seems so simple. To be canned unexpectedly seems like a pretty effective way to send yourself tumbling into the next
chapter of your life, right? For better or for worse. It was a beautiful autumn morning in Chinatown the day it happened. I hopped on my rickety 1970s Apollo and hauled my tired ass over the Georgia Viaduct with the rest of the disgustingly early morning traffic. I jumped off at the front door of my office and stumbled up the stairs, tripping over my bike and the leash of a rogue pup who’d arrived at the same time. It was routine. Little did I know that one by one, half of the company was going to be laidoff and we’d all end up having beers at 9:30 AM on a Wednesday. (Okay, so being laidoff isn’t as bad as getting fired, per se. Fired just sounds more badass). That morning, I was greeted at the front entrance by Corporate Guy Jones — a highly-clichéd dude from the corporate company that acquired the digital agency last year. You know, one of those khakisand-collared-shirt types who talks about their weekend golf game and lives up to their unspoken nickname of Perpetual Party-Pooper. He explained to me that there was a private meeting in progress and that I’d have to go and wait in the back room with the rest of my colleagues. The mood in the back room was heavy and tense. I walked straight to the box of Starbucks coffee and filled my cup. Slowly, as the caffeine began to take effect, I discovered what was actually happening: those of us who had made it into the backroom were safe. Those who didn’t were sent straight back out of the office, severance packages in hand. Like a barbaric game of duck, duck, goose — but this version went a little more like employed, employed... freshly unemployed! Bye-bye! The casualties continued to increase. Messages were being sent every which way: “I’m outside. I’ve just been laid off.” Directors, leaders, people that’d been working there for years. What the fuck? When the destruction was over, nearly half of the company had been sacked. Ouch. The still employed and the unemployed rendezvoused for a morning
beer at a nearby apartment. Fifty of us piled in to process what had just happened. Disclaimer: I didn’t get fired. Which is a good thing, I guess. But I certainly learned a lot from listening to my friends and colleagues who had been. And honestly, I wish that I had been, too. Maybe that would have been the nudge I so desperately needed to leave the comfort of a steady job and to go find the next chapter. Or perhaps find a role that better complements my own sense of identity. The sudden lostness and shattered senses of identities I witnessed from the mass dismissal was a major revelation. I found myself shouting things like, “It’s just a job! You have so much else to be excited about and to focus on and to experiment with now,” reminding myself of those things, too. It really is just a job. Sure, a source of income is critical and we’ve invested years of time, money and stress into studying for said job. But jobs are a mere fragment of our existence that we attribute far too much importance to. Especially when they can be taken away from us in an instant or we can decide to abandon ship at any point. Getting fired is not the end of the world. It’s probably a blessing in disguise, actually. The scariness and uncertainty of being tossed into the unknown is exciting. Arguably, the most exciting. I found myself suppressing feelings of envy for my colleagues who’d been let go, and envisioning all of the new chapters and discoveries and lessons that they’re all about to find. Our careers don’t define us and we can recalculate and redirect at any time, whether we choose that time or it’s forced upon us. Letting something as temporary and minuscule (in the grand scheme of things) as a job define who you are feels like a ridiculous misplacement of value that will make one day leaving or getting fired instill an unnecessary feeling of defeat. We definitely don’t need that negativity in our lives! So, if you ever get fired, accept it gracefully and move on to the next thing. It’ll probably be better, anyway.
Last day of classes!
(December 1 – 31)
6 PM, Strange Fellows Brewery, $2 advanced Described as a “strange kristmas market,” I’m not quite sure what to tell you to prepare you for this one. I will tell you, though, that you can get yourself a photo with the German Krampus demon in which you have the option of the classic lap pose, or, one where he’s terrorizing you. Fun, fun, fun!
Absolut’ly Dragulous 9 PM-3 AM, The Junction, $7
Apparently, the Vancouver community has voted this as the best drag show. A bold claim, but I won’t fight it.
Exam period ends! Take that nap. Watch that movie. Drink that (spiked?) hot chocolate. See your friends. You did it! Have a great break everybody. And to everyone who just finished their degrees, catch you on the flippity-flip.
Victorian Christmas Tea 12 PM, Irving House, $20
I read this event description aloud to the rest of the Courier staff, expecting them to share my thoughts: how deeply random. Instead, they started yelling. Cheers of absolute, unanticipated joy. Long story short, I have to reserve an entire table at this friggin’ thing for our next staff outing.
Karaoke Christmas Lights Trolley Tour 6:30 PM, Grayline Westcoast Sightseeing, $64
Not going to lie, this is only on this calendar because I was drawn to the word “karaoke.” This might actually be a total Boomer fest.
Zero-Waste Vegan Holiday Market 11 AM-5 PM, The Pace, Free
Dear readers. I know you. I know that this will tick a lot of boxes for many of you. Please enjoy.
A Magical Yule Ball 7 PM, The Columbia, $75 While they don’t say it anywhere on the page (dodging royalties, me thinks?) this has Harry Potter written all over it. If that’s your thing, you may want to check this out.
SAT Sound of Music
8 PM, Arts Club Theatre, Various Prices
Funk the Halls 2019 9:30 PM, Commodore Ballroom, $35 The Funk Hunters are back for a fifth year of bringing together electronic music, old school funk, hip-hop and soul. What are the holidays if not a mixed bag of emotions?
Adult Climbing Night 6 PM, Clip ‘N Climb Vancouver, $19 No, not “adult” in the dirty sense. They’re there to climb rocks you freak.
New Year’s Eve! Or as I like to call it, the day before you get to start weeding people out of your life based on how many times they say “new year, new me!”
This event started an admittedly not very passionate debate in the office about whether or not The Sound of Music should be considered a Christmas movie. Our Managing Editor pretty much summed it up with: “But… it’s summer the whole time?” Try make a better point. I’ll wait.
Horoscopes scorpio Oct. 24 - Nov. 22 It’s about time somebody asks how you’re doing. Now just isn’t the time.
libra Sept. 24 - Oct. 23 Family gatherings aren’t your forte but shotgunning beers sure is!
capricorn Dec. 22 - Jan. 20 Seymour’s employees recognizing you is not an achievement.
sagittarius Nov. 23 - Dec. 21 It’s about time your micro beanie gets flicked off your head.
pisces Feb. 20 - March 20 Whatever it is, Proactiv has a solution for it.
aquarius Jan. 21 - Feb. 19 Someone’s gotta tell you to stop using your electric toothbrush as a vibrator (not sponsored by Adam & Eve Stores).
taurus April 21 - May 21 Your moon rising will have you crying in the club. cancer June 22 - July 23 It’s time to Marie Kondo your scented candle collection. Virgo Aug. 24 - Sept. 23 I don’t think the devil’s lettuce can help you through this one.
aries March 21 - April 20 I think it’s supposed to be sunny tomorrow?? gemini May 22 - June 21 It’s okay that you just watch Atypical for the gay bits (I do too). leo July 24 - Aug. 23 Using the Huji app doesn’t make you a film photographer.
Half of all students graduate in the red. How do you get ahead with debt dragging you down? It’s time to demand ﬁnancial aid that actually helps us succeed.
STUDENTS NEED GRANTS NOT LOANS
$30,000 IN DEBT?
READY TO START YOUR CAREER
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CAPI LAN O COU RI ER VOLUME 52, ISSUE NO.4