The Eyeopener: Vol 55, Issue 4

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Volume 55 - Issue 4 October 6, 2021 @theeyeopener Since 1967




Students involved in Creative School renaming say they felt ignored By Thea Gribilas After the Faculty of Communication and Design was officially renamed The Creative School on Aug. 16, students involved in the consultation process say they felt their feedback was ignored. In an email to The Eyeopener, The Creative School said the Faculty of Communication and Design (FCAD) repositioning working group—which included students, chairs, faculty and staff—was established in September 2020. However, according to the school, consultations had been taking place for the past two years. In November 2020, discussions were coordinated through the Society of The Creative School, formerly the Ryerson Communication and Design Society (RCDS), inviting representatives from various course unions across the faculty. One student was invited to the consultation in November 2020, and asked to remain anonymous due to concerns of reprehension. She said she felt her feedback was dismissed. The student said she felt the name was “juvenile” and the word “creative” itself was not creative. She added that she was clear to administrators about her dislike for the proposed names early on.

“At the initial meeting, everyone left with a very sour taste in their mouths,” she said. “People were making very well-articulated points...and they weren’t being heard.” She said although she was consulted in the change, she felt administrators had already made the decision about the name. In an email to The Eye, The Creative School said that “as expected there was a broad spectrum of perspectives in the community feedback, but overall the responses were very positive within all the schools and units for the new name with a revitalized mission.”

“They gave us a voice but I don’t know how much they really listened to it” The School added that “it was recognized that the new name will provide the faculty a clearer, cohesive and impactful brand with a more enticing and inspirational vision of the future.” The student acknowledged that there were students who wanted a name change because they felt FCAD didn’t encapsulate what they were doing in their programs. However, she said she has yet to speak to a student

involved in the consulation process who was excited by the new name. She said she took her concerns to the chair of her program who gave them “the impression that it didn’t really matter what we did.” “He was just kind of telling us under the table, ‘Charles [Falzon] wants it to be The Creative School and that’s going to happen.’” The Creative School stated in an email to The Eye “that’s disappointing to hear as we worked hard to ensure student voices were heard. Input was taken from students throughout the consultation period and an informed recommendation was made with the university senate, which includes student representatives, approving The Creative School formally in April 2021.” According to the student, at one instance in the consultation, Charles Falzon, dean of The Creative School, stepped away from his computer. She recalls an administrative assistant telling them that Falzon had taken the time to consult students and they were disappointed that the student leaders weren’t more open-minded with the ideas. The student added that Falzon said in the meeting that the change was made in part because the term ‘faculty’ isn’t internationally recognized.


“We understand wanting to have a prestigious international reputation, but at the same time we’re Canadian,” she said. Duaa Rizvi, a fourth year journalism student, was involved in the consultations through the RCDS, where she was a representative for the journalism program. She said she attended two consultation meetings. Rizvi said that at a consultation, she told Falzon that the new name sounded “cheesy.” “They saw that too but personally I think they were pretty sold on the word “creative” since the beginning and since they decided that they wanted to change the name,” said Rizvi. “But they were understanding of the fact that from the students’ perspective, we weren’t the biggest fans of the word,” said Rizvi.

Rizvi said during the second consulation, she felt faculty representatives were sold on the Creative School name. “It was pretty clear to me personally that they weren’t even [listening], even though they were taking our suggestions, they weren’t going to really listen because they were set.” Rizvi added that although they were taking their opinions into consideration , the students were always met with a counter argument. “They gave us a voice but I don’t know how much they really listened to it,” said Rizvi. She also said she felt as if this name change was a wrong move, given what was happening with the Ryerson name at the time. She said she felt there were more important issues to tackle. “I felt like those concerns that were raised weren’t actually answered.”

The process behind Ryerson’s new Indigenous ‘Ring’ installation on campus By Prapti Bamaniya A new steel Ring art installation, designed by Indigenous architecture firm Two Row Architect, was unveiled at the intersection of Gould Street and the Nelson Mandela Walk on Sept. 21. According to architects Jacqueline Daniel and Matthew Hickey, the art installation was an ongoing project with the university for two years. They said the project involved consultations with Joanne Okimawininew Dallaire, elder and co-chair of Ryerson’s Truth and Reconciliation Strategic Working Group; Brian Norton, the program coordinator at Aboriginal Student Services; and Monica McKay, the director of Aboriginal Initiatives. The consultation started with six sharing circles with Indigenous communities and collected ideas were brought up. According to a study in The International Journal of Qualitative Methods, Indigenous Peoples have used sharing circles as a method of conveying stories and experiences for generations and they provide a respectful and supportive environment where “Indigenous Peoples can autonomously express their perspectives and reflect on their experiences without interruption or questioning.”


“It’s really about the Indigenous community having a voice at the university. We were just the facilitators,” said Hickey. Next came exercises like “design charrettes,” where the groups would use materials like pipe cleaners and plasticine to mould what they thought the installation could look like. After coming up with a some concepts through that process, the architects came up with three different schematics for the installation and presented them to the community to choose the best design. After showing the focus group of elders and Indigenous leaders at Ryerson, the current “Ring” installation was chosen. “We really are the bridge between the client or the people that we’re working with and the community that it’s for,” said Daniel. “It’s less about my personal design tastes and

more about the translation of what people see and feel and want for their buildings or installations.”

“It’s really about the Indigenous community having a voice at the university” According to Ryerson’s official statement, the Ring is made of Corten weathering steel, a material that is less processed and more likely to change with its environmental conditions, so that its exterior changes with the weather. It incorporates the Seven Grandparent teachings and their animal symbols: Humility, Courage, Honesty, Wisdom, Truth, Respect and Love. Hickey said it also includes a depiction of the lunar moon phases with it being surrounded by stars

and the constellation Pleiades, an integral constellation for some Indigenous communities. The installation’s opening faces east, representing creations and new beginnings, and west, representing knowledge and wisdom. “Passed down from generation to generation, First Nations communities have long referred to the Seven Grandparent teachings as a guide for their cultural foundation, human conduct and survival,” said Dallaire in a statement. “In our traditional Indigenous teachings, everything is about intent and the right relationship with our world, so as we continue to navigate the many challenges of the past year, I’m grateful that we were able to come together as a community to bring this meaningful vision to life.” Lynn Lavallée, a strategic lead in Indigenous resurgence in the Faculty of Community Services, who is Anishinaabe registered with the Métis Nation of Ontario, said she knows this installation is important as it gives Indigenous people a chance to see a representation of themselves on campus. “For me, Indigenous resurgence is about supporting Indigenous people within the academy and for this reason, I feel that artwork can serve a purpose to make the Indigenous people on campus feel wel-

come and recognized,” she said. On the other hand, Wreckonciliation X University, a group of Indigenous students fighting for social justice and human rights at the university, expressed frustration on Instagram over the installation being unveiled before a new name for the institution.

“Where was the consultation? Why did this happen before the name change?” “Where was the consultation? Why did this happen before the name change? What are the priorities here?” their Instagram post reads. Ryerson history professor and former co-chair of the Standing Strong Task Force, Catherine Ellis, said she understands the time, work and thought that went into the new art installation. She said its process included important dialogue about the role of public art in a social environment. “As our campus engages in necessary conversation about how to implement the recommendations of the Task Force, this piece can provide our community with opportunities for reflection, grounding and imagining what the future can look like,” she said.



Diversity Institute’s Study Buddy program helps marginalized students in school By Nishat Chowdhury The Diversity Institute’s Study Buddy program is creating an “equal playing field” for grade school students from marginalized communities during the era of virtual learning, according to the Mohamed Elmi, director of research at the Diversity Institute. The Study Buddy program is a free, online one-on-one tutoring service for students who face additional barriers to their success due to new stresses brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program has facilitated more than 5,000 hours of tutoring support for more than 430 students Parents and students are paired with tutors who are Ontario teacher candidates from five different universities across the province: Queen’s, Nipissing, Laurentian, University of Toronto and Ontario Tech. Students can expect up to three hours per week of free tutoring with subject-specific support from tutors who are fulfilling their practicum requirements. Flexible hours are set by the tutor. According to Elmi, 70 to 80 per


cent of children using the program are racialized, but it accepts other students as well. “Our goal is to help anybody in need of support. If they apply, we won’t turn them away,” said Elmi. The program is a collaboration between the Diversity Institute at Ryerson, Ontario Tech University, the Jean Augustine Centre for Young Women’s Empowerment, and the Lifelong Leadership Institute, an organization that encourages leadership development among Black Canadian youth. Since its debut in May 2020, the program has facilitated more than 5,000 hours of tutoring support for more than 430 students with around 182 tutors, according to the Diversity Institute.

“A program that provides lowcost or free tutoring is essential to create an inclusive and equal playing field for everyone in these crazy times,” said Vanessa Vakharia, founder and CEO of The Math Guru, a math and science tutoring studio in Toronto.

“One could argue that those kids need more support than anyone” “One could argue that those kids need more support than anyone.” For full-time working parents like Susan Shakes, who is also a teacher herself for the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board, the program has helped her

two elementary-age daughters stay on top of their school work. The convenience of it being virtual and free of charge are added bonuses. She said with most programs, parents will reduce the amount of time their child gets tutored to lower the cost. “Even though you may need more help, it’s very difficult to afford $40 three times a week,” she said. According to a StatsCan report released in April 2020 on school closures and the online preparedness of children during the COVID-19 pandemic, lower-income parents tend to be less involved in their children’s academic ventures compared to middle and upper-income families. This is because lower-income parents typically work longer and harder hours, the report reads. In addition, they usually have lower levels of education which prevents them from being able to assist their children in homework. Fourth-year concurrent education student at Laurentian University and tutor in the Study Buddy program Jamie Hunski said that the students he tutored would have not done as well if it weren’t for the extra support of Study Buddy. Hunski said kids who come from marginalized backgrounds deserve someone compassionate who can help them. “I firmly believe that and I saw with

my own eyes that they improved a great deal with this program, with somebody to guide them,” he said. Elmi said marginalized youth deserve to see people in leadership positions that reflect themselves, as racialized leaders are almost nonexistent on Canadian leadership boards, according to a study of Canadian board diversity by the Diversity Institute, released in August 2020.

“I saw with my own eyes that they improved a great deal with this program” While people of colour represent 28.4 per cent of the population across the eight cities that were analyzed, they only occupy 10.4 per cent of board positions. For example, among 1,639 corporate board members, the study found that there were almost no Black people on corporate boards in Toronto. “By offering tutoring support throughout kids’ education processes, they might have a chance to go into these positions, should they want to go that way,” said Elmi. “It might not be a result of changing society tomorrow, but it might have a long-term effect, once you provide people those pathways to whatever career they want to choose.”

Study finds 3 in 10 Canadian families don’t have access to online classes at home By Mariyah Salhia

Still, Parkin said that having the data on internet accessibility is imA new study published with Ry- portant to understand barriers to erson’s Diversity Institute and the access in online learning due to fiEnvironics Institute for Survey Re- nancial inequities. search found that three in 10 Canadian families didn’t have access to Racialized families were online classes at home because of more than twice as likely difficulty paying for internet. The report, titled “Lessons learned: to experience difficulty The pandemic and learning from accessing a computer home in Canada,” found that while most families have internet access at home, many of them have trouble Parkin said that while the panpaying the bill. demic was experienced by all CaIn addition, three in 10 children nadians, the inequities revealed in had to use public Wi-Fi to complete the study partially illustrate how the assignments, and some students pandemic is being experienced difwere unable to do their homework ferently for a diverse population. because they didn’t have access to a The study found that the chances computer at home. of experiencing challenges with acSome families also said their chil- cessing their online school materials dren had to do school assignments were more likely in homes with a on a cellphone. lower income, and racialized famiAndrew Parkin, executive direc- lies were more than twice as likely tor of the Environics Institute and to experience difficulty accessing a researcher on the study, said he a computer or affording internet was not surprised by any of the while learning online. study’s findings. Indigenous families were also “Everyone’s online, everyone has more likely than non-Indigenous a phone. So there’s this idea of mov- families to report difficulty affording school from the classroom to the ing their internet connection or internet seems that it should affect gaining access to a computer. everyone equally if we’re all conAccording to the study, about onenected,” he said. “But that connec- third of Canadian families also have tion isn’t free.” trouble paying their internet bill.

While the study was focused on elementary school students, Parkin said online learning can cost university students as well, and not just financially. According to Parkin, insufficient access to the internet can make learning gaps larger. Concerns about this year’s incoming class are more heightened than before given the amount of time they have spent online. Deena Shaffer, a learning specialist and coordinator of student transitions and retention at Ryerson Student Wellbeing, agreed that the study’s findings have implications for university students. She said this can include having to get full-time employment on top of their course load to pay for their internet connection and facing the pressure of entering the professional world. Parkin also said for incoming students, learning gaps could have been worsened by the amount of online learning they’ve had in high school. According to Parkin, professors have complained about their students being underprepared for their undergraduate programs for a long time, but for newer classes, he fears that some of these gripes are legitimate concerns. Shaffer said the transition for


students from high school to postsecondary can be particularly difficult for classes that are completely online. “Courses taught [in real life] allow for students to lean over and check their understanding [and say] ‘Wait, what did the teacher say?’ or ‘When is that essay due again?’” she explained. “But without that option, or that final year of high school to practice, students might feel like they either have to stay in that uncertainty or email their professors more than they would perhaps normally.” Shaffer said she’s been trying to combat some of the fears surrounding online course delivery for students by having as many channels of communication as possible for them. “I’m trying to set up all kinds of pathways for students to be able to

access the larger class community wisdom,” she said. “WhatsApp class group chats, communal office hours for students to practice asking questions in groups and be able to listen in, student-led Google Doc FAQs.” Shaffer added that while online learning can be a challenge, there are some students who are benefiting from it. She said that although students might feel like online learning can feel “lackluster or incomplete in some ways,” some may feel more confident in online classroom settings. “Everyone’s been affected, to some degree, but understanding how Canadians in different situations and different backgrounds were affected differently,” he said. “That’s one of the priorities of partners in the project.”



Change is coming—but you need to do your part By Heidi Lee, Thea Gribilas and Sarah Tomlinson On Sept. 30, our news team attended the Ryerson Students’ Union’s (RSU) monthly Board of Directors’ (BoD) meeting, only to find it had been cancelled as they failed to meet quorum. When we got into the meeting, there were 12 people on the call, including the three of us. (For reference, there are 25 BoD members.) According to section 8.1 of the RSU bylaws, at least half of the BoD must be in attendance for the meeting to proceed, meaning less than 13 paid board members attended. It wasn’t the first time a BoD meeting was cancelled for this reason. We encountered the same thing on May 1 at the RSU Annual General Meeting, which failed to see 100 students attend, meaning the meeting was abruptly adjourned. In recent months, the RSU has not only failed to meet quorum, but they’ve also neglected to inform us and the community in advance of BoD meeting dates and agendas. We could resent the RSU for their lack of communication. However, we’ve also become accustomed to this long-standing culture of apathy from the greater Ryerson community. Journalism’s function is to hold power to account. Yet, holding institutions accountable is a responsibility for all—this includes students,

faculty and community members at Ryerson—and our collective inaction makes us complicit. Students have a lot on their shoulders. With stress from studies, part-time jobs, taking care of our mental health and balancing life, we understand you might not have the time and energy to keep an eye on politics at Ryerson 24/7. But these issues intertwine with your student life too heavily for you not to care. With control over students’ money, the RSU has also failed to be transparent in their budgeting process. They decreased funding for campus groups by $70,000 and course unions by $44,000, while increasing funding for executive training. In addition, $900,000 in surplus from last year’s budget has yet to be accounted for in their current budget and there has been no answer as to why. At a town hall on May 11, the union announced they weren’t pursuing legal action against students involved in the RSU credit card scandal. This took place in 2019 when financial statements showing more than $250,000 in food, alcohol, clothing and club purchases that were made with RSU credit cards under the names of executives were made public and reported on by The Eyeopener. Their reasoning was that the cost of litigation would be greater than what the RSU had the potential of recovering. What they didn’t explain, however, was why they were

setting the precedent that RSU members could commit such flagrant misconduct without fear of prosecution or retribution. Students had chances to create change, we just didn’t take them. Back in 2019, no one showed up to the RSU town hall that was set to discuss transparency and the future of the union. Additionally, voter turnout gets lower in each RSU election. Current RSU president Siddhanth Satish won the election with 1,017 votes in a school with over 35,000 students. Once we overcome our political fatigue and sense of helplessness, we can, in fact, build a campus community we can be proud of. In The Power of the Powerless, Václav Havel questioned if “the brighter future is really always so distant.” “What if, on the contrary, it has been here for a long time already, and only our own blindness and weaknesses has prevented us from seeing it around us and within us and kept us from developing it?” he wrote. If we truly hope for a brighter future, we need to speak up when institutions at Ryerson act in a manner that doesn’t represent students. To do so, we need to carve out some time and use our voices to pressure our institutions into ones that serve us. It doesn’t have to be a lot of work—any amount of effort helps. But by remaining silent, we are all complicit in their mediocrity. Read the full article at

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Contributors Mariyah “I’M SORRY” Salhia Prapti “Lord of the Ring” Bamaniya Nishat “You’re the Best” Chowdhury Megan “Streeter Queen” Camlasaran Teresa “UR SO COOL BTW” Valenton Naomi “Plastic Is Not Fantastic” Chen Ryan “Lonely Stoner Who Frees His Mind at Night” O’Connor Sophia “International Vax No Good” De Guzman Swidda “Family First” Rassy Anika “TTC Too Expensive” Forman Jack “Has the Straightest Back” Wannan Madeline “IRL Honeybun” Liao Jordan “Multi-Sport Savant” Jacklin Matthew “The Juke” Davison Joseph “Cuffed Mans” Casciaro Ilyas “Elite Versatility” Hussein Armen “Oral Back And Forth” Zargarian Koylan “In My Car” Azofeifa Mario “The Stallion” Russo Crina “Better Woj” Mustafa Merida “No Bio” Moffat Julia “Annabelle McDoll” Dwyer David “Alleged Nose Picker” Jardine Charles “Fresh Off The University Of Google” Simard Nicholas “Get Into It (Yuh)” Cannito Samreen “Make a Colonizer Cry” Maqsood Kosalan “What Is This, A Crossover Episode?” Kathiramalanathan Cooper “Dumbass” Griffin-Hoard KC “Bitchass” Hoard Perry “Alex’s Friend” Platypus



Anti-vax protests near campus cause concerns for student safety By Megan Camlasaran

PHOTO: KOSALAN KATHIRAMALANATHAN Many demonstrators wore masks during speeches at an anti-vaccine rally at Yonge-Dundas Square on Sept. 25.

PHOTO: JES MASON Police clash with demonstrators attempting to enter the Eaton Centre following the rally.

PHOTO: KOSALAN KATHIRAMALANATHAN One demonstrator brought a large wooden cross that hovered above the crowd.

PHOTO: JES MASON Anti-vax influencer, conspiracy theorist and far-right agitator Chris Sky greets fans after speaking at the rally.

would feel safer if there were more security to Photography by Jes Mason and Kosalan Kathira- contain the protests to one area. Vinnie Rodenburgh, a first-year psycholmalanathan ogy student who lives at Pitman Hall, said it As ‘anti-vax’ protests increase in size and would make them feel “uncomfortable, upset happen beside campus on a weekly basis, and unsafe” if anti-vaccine protests were to some Ryerson students say they’re worried occur on campus because of the number of about protests shifting onto campus grounds people who might join. because of the disruptions and violence they Rodenburgh also said “it feels like a bigger can cause. threat” because of how big and disruptive the When vaccine passports were announced in anti-vaccine protest was outside of Toronto Ontario on Sept. 1, anti-vaccine protests be- General Hospital on Sept. 13. came increasingly visible, disruptive and vioRyerson, among other Ontario universities, lent on the streets of Toronto. requires all individuals coming to campus to be Demonstrations against public health mea- fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and submit sures for COVID-19 have been happening in proof of vaccination. “Each of us has the power downtown Toronto nearly every Saturday for to help protect our classmates, professors, colthe past 17 months. These demonstrators typ- leagues, friends and loved ones and help stop ically rally at Queen’s Park and march down the spread of the virus and reduce its harmful to Yonge Street, eventually making their way impacts,” a statement from the university reads. past Ryerson’s campus. However, some students told The EyeopenOn Sept. 25, prominent anti-vax influ- er they don’t trust that Ryerson can protect encer Chris Sky held an independent rally them from anti-vax protests happening near near Yonge-Dundas Square, shutting down or on campus. Howell said she doesn’t think the intersection once the Queen’s Park rally the university handles protests very well in marched by. Speeches were general, considering she was refilled with disinformation, concently exposed to anti-abortion “These people will protestors on campus that made spiracy theories and calls to end public health measures. oppose any form of her feel uncomfortable. The event ended with demMeg Konechny, a first-year authority” onstrators fighting police as film student, echoed Howell’s they attempted to enter the concerns but added that she “unEaton Centre. Toronto police charged a man derstands that it can be hard” to deal with any and woman with assault after clashing with protests close to campus because protesting is security staff from the mall. a civil right. “I just wish it wasn’t a problem According to Kurt Phillips, a board mem- because it’s pretty selfish,” she said. ber of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, peoSince recent escalations of anti-vax prople who protest against COVID-19 vaccine tests, the City of Toronto has seen protestors mandates and lockdown measures have an in- harass and send violent threats to workers in nate distrust of government. Phillips, who has businesses and public officials who are enforcbeen following trends of anti-vaccine protests ing vaccine passports. There’s also been an inclosely, said protestors feed into disinforma- crease in Asian-Canadians being targeted and tion circulating on social media and form con- accosted, according to Phillips. spiracy theories that are becoming a means of “These people will oppose any form of aujustification for the demonstrations. thority and the belief they are being told to do “It makes me sick watching all this happen- something will result in them digging their ing...this is a privilege to have the choice to heels in even more,” he said. not get vaccinated,” said Meg Howell, a firstPhillips added that anti-vax influencers year social work student. like Sky, who purposely try to incite civil “I think they’re a bad influence,” said Max unrest, maintain an echo chamber on social Balitbit, a first-year media production student media. They don’t accept dissent, causing who lives on campus at the Daphne Cockwell supporters to think their anti-government Complex. “I mean, it’s a civil right, but they’re views are mainstream. saying some things I don’t agree with. They’re “Even when COVID is in the rearview mirusing scare tactics that are irresponsible.” ror, a lot of these people aren’t going any“Having it be so close, knowing they could where and will gravitate to the next thing that walk five seconds to our doorstep and be here will outrage them,” said Phillips. is a little concerning,” said Balitbit, adding she With files from Kosalan Kathiramalanathan

PHOTO: JES MASON A demonstrator slips under a divider entering into the Eaton Centre food court in order to circumvent security guards.

Life beyond fandom Words by Jack Wannan & Abeer Khan Visuals by Heidi Lee For these Ryerson students, fandom became a gateway into creative degrees and careers


n 2013, Jillian Maniquis, alongside a few of her online friends, planned a fan project for Cody Simpson’s upcoming concert. They printed over 500 posters to hand out to fans at his show at Massey Hall in Toronto. The posters read, “So Much More Than Cody Simpson,” an opening lyric in one of his earliest songs, One. They placed the posters on seats around the venue, with instructions on the other side telling fans when to hold the posters up. They also handed them to attendees individually as they trickled in. As she gave out posters fan by fan, she’d hear people ask, “Are you Jillian? TheCodySociety? I follow you on Twitter, my handle is…” Coming from a low-income household in North York, it was rare for Maniquis, who graduated from media production last year, to have opportunities like this—to go to concerts or buy merchandise—and she was too young at the time to secure a job. Twitter became Maniquis’ way to connect with Simpson and his fans. She maintained TheCodySociety, a fandom page on Twitter for Simpson, which she first created at the age of 12 on her family computer. She would use the account at home and at school on her LG Neon flip phone. Since the phone didn’t support apps, she had to text Twitter’s “40404” number to get tweets out. The account amassed thousands of fans who followed her to get updates on the artist and it became one with one of the highest followings for a Simpson fan account in Canada. She remembers Warner Music Group reaching out to her, telling her they recognized her work and receiving messages from Simpson’s management asking her to tweet out events he’d be participating in. She even joined the singer-songwriter’s street team and helped with promotional activities at the age of 15. In return, she sometimes recieved free merchandise and concert tickets. Maniquis was also one of the only people of colour within the fandom with such a large following. She recognized early on she didn’t have the same privileges as her white and higher-income counterparts. She says she always felt a bit out of place, especially when other fans would talk about going to five shows over the course of two weeks. Meanwhile, Maniquis could only go to one show. “And it was a really big struggle for me to pay for that.’” Her participation in the Simpson fandom allowed her to make friends and further discover her passion for content creation. It also allowed her to meet other fans who she otherwise wouldn’t have connected with. “For many of us as teens, [Cody Simpson] was a connection needed to make these friendships, to feel like we were part of a community,” says Maniquis. “We were proud of how far he came, but I think in hindsight, it was also a celebration of how far we’d all come alongside him.” During that concert, when Simpson started playing Summertime Of Our Lives halfway through his set, Maniquis saw everyone in the venue raising the posters she and her friends had handed out before the show. She remembers Simpson looking around the room in awe. She says it was one of those “I made it” moments. When the song ended, roars echoed throughout the hall and she looked at her friend, screaming “We did it! We did it!” Fandom, a term used to describe enthusiastic fan bases, provides an outlet for fans to go beyond the surface level of consuming and enjoying their favourite forms of entertainment. Fandom has fuelled a way for audiences to discuss and build upon their favourite musicians, artists, movies, shows and more, while connecting with others who share similar interests. Rhiannon Bury, a women’s and gender studies professor at

Athabasca University in Alberta and a fan studies scholar, says fandom can be characterized by two critical components. First, the fandom must be organized around a specific person or object of affection, whether that be a TV show or musician. Second, fandom also has to involve interacting with other people outside of one’s normal social circle. Bury says people join fandoms to be a part of something bigger than themselves and to find communities outside of their everyday lives. “Fandom just happens to hit some of the buttons to connect with other people who have similar ideas,” says Bury. Within these fandoms, Bury says fans form “fan communities” where they’re clearly and regularly connecting with a group of people. “These communities can involve creative work, like producing fan fiction, videos and sharing those among the community,” says Bury. For some Ryerson students, the art and content that they produced within fandoms started out as a way to become more invested in the community. As time passed however, their fandom-inspired activities became gateways into creative careers that they’re now pursuing within their post-secondary education and beyond. This is known as participating in the activity of cultural production, first discussed by British cultural theorist Angela McRobbie. In her article, “Shut up and dance: Youth culture and changing modes of femininity,” Robbie says this participation provides “the opportunity of learning and sharing skills, practicing them, making a small amount of money and more important, they provide pathways for future ‘life skills’ in the form of work or self-employment.” Fandoms help teach skills that are marketable, says Jessica Yang, a PhD student at the University of Southern California who is studying the intersection of YouTube and fandom. “Fandoms help incubate talents and skills that can then be very useful in future careers,” she says.


oughly a week after Star Wars: The Force Awakens made it to theatres in 2015, Gabriella Rigakos and her family packed into the Courtney Park Cineplex in Mississauga, Ont. to see the newest addition to the series. By then, the box office hit had already made over $400 million USD worldwide and some diehard fans had already seen the movie not once, but twice. Rigakos, though, was certainly not a diehard—yet. As she sat down in the theatre, she was particularly interested in seeing Rey, the first woman character to lead in a Star Wars film. But Rey wasn’t who was on her mind when she left the theatre that night. Instead, it was the villain, Kylo Ren, who had revealed his face for the first time in the film. When he took off his mask, Rigakos sat in awe, watching the action unfold. There was something about seeing his character’s face revealed for the first time that will forever stick with her. “I was just the most starry-eyed 13-year-old in the room,” Rigakos says. She spent the car ride back from the theatre

wondering, “Why do I care about him?” Rigakos’ love for Kylo Ren is hard for her to explain; after all, he is the villain of the story and hated vehemently across the Star Wars fandom. But for her, Kylo Ren was more complex than just a villain and to write him off as such wouldn’t be doing his character much justice. “I don’t relate to this person because he wants to blow up a planet, I relate to him because he doesn’t know what to do with his emotions,” she says. After watching the movie, Rigakos watched every Star Wars film, show and spin-off the franchise had to offer. However, this content wasn’t enough for her; she wanted more. This is when Rigakos decided to venture into the world of fandom, where she was able to get more into the franchise. She downloaded social media platforms like Tumbr and Instagram in hopes of connecting with other fans who felt the same way she did. Soon, Rigakos found herself immersed in the ‘edit’ community, which consisted of fans who would edit video clips from their favourite shows. She was introduced to the format by a Star Wars fan in Greece, who FaceTimed her and offered lessons on Adobe AfterEffects. The fan taught her how to use the app, not for money or some type of shoutout, but simply because she had a passion for fan-edits and wanted to pass her wisdom along. She became a part of a large edit community online where she posted countless Star Wars edits, including those of Kylo Ren, sometimes ‘shipping’ him with Rey. She became a fixture in a community of editors, and she even met one of the fans she connected with online at Toronto Comicon. Years later, Rigakos’ experience making edits of Star Wars characters and other film stars has led her to a much more serious pursuit: getting her undergraduate degree in film studies at Ryerson University. The popularity of fan-made art has been coined as participatory culture by American scholar Henry Jenkins, who says in his book Textual Poachers that “fans [form] alternative interpretations that were often expressed through unauthorized cultural productions.” Many fans start to create art due to their intense love for a fandom. A 2013 study in the Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy that looked at movie series The Hunger Games, internet game Neopets and PC game The Sims, determined that being in a fandom accelerates productivity for some artists, claiming that once fans become invested in a fandom they often take on more participatory roles within them. Fandomhood has become more accessible than ever as individuals gain greater access to the internet from a younger age. Bury says fan culture was “very localized” in the 1990s, with conventions and comic book stores being some of the limited ways in which fans would interact with each other. As the internet became more accessible in the 2000s, forums or blog sites like LiveJournal allowed for fans from around the world to interact. Fast forward a couple of decades, a large portion of the population can now access a fandom of their choosing with the touch of a phone, tablet or laptop. “Arguably fandom is accessible to anybody and everybody with a digital device,” says Yang. However, while she says social media has made fandom more accessible, some fandoms have become more closed off—

fandom rules!

it’s harder to become a part of these spaces without knowing proper slang or lingo that you would need to search to find what you’re looking for. “It then becomes a question of do you have the insider know-how to actually navigate and get to that point?” says Yang. Today, Rigakos is no longer the Star Wars fan she once was. As a film student, she’s been exposed to other genres and styles of film, opening up a whole new world for her to explore. But every once in a while, she likes to look back at that time in her life and reminisce. During the pandemic, trapped in her room and looking for things to do in the early stages of lockdown, Rigakos found herself going back to the roots of her fandom history. Surrounded by walls with posters that are a mixture of official merchandise and fanart—including Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and eons of Star Wars memorabilia she’s collected over the years—she found comfort in what she once loved, especially Star Wars. At least for a short period of time, the films and culture surrounding the series sucked her back in. “I did start editing a little more again.” she says. In retrospect, she recognizes that she wouldn’t be where she is today without that time she spent as a fan. The edit community often created an environment where people were uplifting, teaching and competing with each other, pushing many to produce high quality work. For Rigakos, the community pushed her to take her work seriously, and explore it beyond the confines of Star Wars. “I realized I can actually do this for the rest of my life.”


t 12-years-old, Cindy Phung, now a third-year performance student at Ryerson, was frantically searching for some kind of escape from her everyday life. As an introvert, she grew up spending a lot of time in her home in Brampton, Ont. by herself with hours to kill. With her older sister off at university and her parents out of the house working until early evenings, there were large gaps of time in her day she was desperate to fill. She remembers grappling with an “existential” feeling of understanding of the reality around her; her life often felt underwhelming. As she found a place in fandom however, this feeling shifted. “Being able to just shut off for a minute and go into a bigger world, where the possibilities feel endless, just felt safe,” says Phung. Phung would often escape from reality and into the Doctor Who and Merlin universes, a couple of popular sci-fi and fantasy TV shows. Thoroughly entrenched in both shows, Phung made an Instagram account where she would post about both shows and interact with other fans, reaching around 1,000 followers. She was drawn to the shows because of their worldbuilding and how an entire universe could be constructed through the production process of a show. This is also what attracted Phung to the fandom culture that surrounded these shows. Discussing the shows and sharing content related to them allowed her to further indulge in the universe. Phung eventually left the two fandoms, citing their taxing nature. She says posting started to become a chore instead of a hobby. She often grappled with her intentions of running the page: was the focus on gaining a following and getting big? Or was the priority to simply just post about her favourite shows? She confronted herself with these questions often and the

work she was doing for her account became more demanding. With high workloads and no pay, it was taking too much time out of her day. However, Phung says her time in fandom is a big reason why she’s so involved with art and production these days. She says it propelled her into her pursuit of exploring theatre. “The possibilities were endless, I could do whatever I want in theatre, I could do whatever I want in film. And it was just so much fun.” For nearly everyone involved in fandom culture, profit isn’t a motivator for their work. Social status within a fandom is often attractive to some, but for many, their motivation comes from simply wanting to contribute to the fandom. The idea of this work is known as the “gift economy,” where fans produce art without the goal of making money, according to an 2020 article published in Television and New Media. Instead, the payment is that they are working in a community of others who will also supply art, creating a system where everyone can create and consume fan-made content. However, being involved in fandom can also be profitable. Bestselling book-turned-movie Fifty Shades of Grey notably started out as a Twilight fan-fiction before becoming a billiondollar franchise in novel and movie form. The erotic fiction series is a notorious example, although it isn’t a fair representation of most fandom work, which is appreciated in small circles that don’t often see any monetary return. Fatigue from fandoms is also not unheard of, especially when it comes to social media, where there’s greater pressure put on fans to create content and stay online, especially as their social media presence grows. “It becomes a high pressure thing, the more successful you get, the better you do, the harder it is on you,” says Andrew Deman, an English language and literature professor at the University of Waterloo. Being in fandoms for Doctor Who and Merlin, Phung found herself in spaces that were predomi nantly white. Not only were the casts of the shows mostly white, but it was clear to her that the fandom was that way as well, as there was a lack of conversations around race and diversity. Whether it was intentional or not, she thinks her interest in the show Merlin was, in part, due to one of the characters, Guinevere Pendragon, who was played by a woman of colour. During her time in the fandom, Phung says there weren’t many discussions about the lack of representation in the shows she watched. That’s not to say fandoms weren’t engaged in discussing social issues at all; she remembers many accounts having discussions about LGBTQ+ representation on shows. Phung would also use her account to discuss issues on her mind outside of fandom. A 2020 report from the UCLA College of Social Sciences found that while representation in entertainment has been trending toward more inclusion of Black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC), they continue to be “underrepresented on every industry employment front.” The study found that racialized people held only 24 per cent of lead roles on TV shows, with 35 per cent represented lead characters in cable scripted shows like Doctor Who and Merlin. In Canada, racialized people represent


just 16 per cent of speaking roles in the TV industry, according to a 2016 study from Nordicity consultancy group. The lack of BIPOC representation in the arts industry is part of what made Phung join the performance production program at Ryerson. Along with a passion for arts and entertainment, Phung wants to bring more representation to the table as well, because the shows she used to watch were “just a bunch of white people.” It was really hard for her to find TV shows and other media in which she could see herself. Now in her third year, Phung is striving to represent what she wants to see in theatre. While the lack of representation in the industry originally made her hesitant to pursue her career, it’s now a big part of why she’s in the field. “I want to see something else because the same couple of actors keep being recycled through,” she says.


oday, Maniquis’ work within fandom is intertwined with many aspects of her life. For her final project of her degree, she produced the documentary #fangirl which follows four former and current Simpson fans. In the doc, these fans, including Maniquis, reflected on their experiences as fans, their involvement in Simpson’s promotional team and how fandom shaped their lives. Maniquis is now a digital coordinator at the Chang School of Continuing Education at Ryerson University, where she utilizes her knowledge of social media—ingrained in her mind during her fandom years—to help market the school. Everything from the way she speaks to viewers to the tone she uses to write and the style of slipping promotions into social media posts all come from her work with TheCodySociety. But now, she isn’t representing her favourite artist on a small scale, she’s representing an entire school on a global standing. “I just knew how to do it with practice as I was a really kind of set me up for success.” She’s also taken her passion for fandom to TikTok where she creates videos providing commentary and thoughts on popular culture, and analyzes fandom from the lens of a woman of colour. “I’ve always been interested in fandom, but I’ve never felt like my voice mattered, especially as a woman of colour,” says Maniquis. Her TikTok, which has over 7,000 followers and over one million likes, is where she’s able to talk freely about her opinions on all things fandom while also providing a space for women of colour to talk about and represent their experiences. To Maniquis, how women function in society and their perspectives are often ignored by male-dominated society. Fangirls are seen as delusional or as girls who are lame and don’t have any power. In reality, however, Maniquis knows they can take on anything. “Wait until they grow up and get to rule the world.” With files from Sama Nemat Allah



Only 2 Indigenous members on Ryerson’s renaming committee: student rep By Mariam Nouser Following Ryerson University’s announcement of an advisory committee to identify a new name for the institution, a student on the committee is raising concerns over Indigenous representation and tokenization of committee members. Out of the 17 members on the advisory committee, only two are Indigenous and just three are students, according to Miranda Black, a master’s student in environmental applied science and management. Black alleges she is the only Indigenous student on the committee. On Sept. 12, Ryerson announced the creation of the advisory committee to “guide the process of identifying a new name” that reflects the “university’s strengths, values and aspirations.” The committee was created after Ryerson’s Board of Governors (BoG) approved all 22 recommendations from the Standing Strong Task Force’s final report, including a recommendation to rename the university, in August. Ryerson president Mohamed Lachemi previously told The Eyeopener that the composition of the advisory committee is a representation of all stakeholders—including representatives for students, faculty, alumni, senate and the BoG—and features “representation from Indigenous people...from our Black community and...from everybody.” According to Lachemi, the committee’s makeup is “a reflection of the diversity of our entire community.” The other Indigenous member of the committee, according to Black, is Michael Mihalicz, a professor at the Ted Rogers School of Management. Black, who is Onkwehonewe with lineage stemming from the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, told The Eye she’s concerned over being the only Indigenous student on the committee and the toll it could take on her. “[Most of the] people on the

PHOTO: JES MASON Miranda Black (right) and her daughter.

committee are staff or faculty and have jobs that pay them over $100,000 annually. While for me, I am a student with over $50,000 in debt,” said Black. “The amount of emotional labour that is on Indigenous students at the institution already is something that I live with on a daily basis, let alone being on a committee filled with funders and PR reps who do not understand Indigenous protocols or colonial legacies.” Black said having just two Indigenous members on the committee makes her feel as if she is being tokenized. “The amount of tokenization that happens when creating such a committee and using students from racialized, Black and Indigenous communities as diversity is disgusting,” said Black. “I am constantly educating settlers, being taken advantage of and that’s how the committee is going to be without recognition of my emotional labour.” When asked about the advisory committee only having two Indigenous members, Lachemi said that number is “not accurate” but could not provide a specific number in its place. According to a statement from the university, “while the advisory committee consists of members with diverse expertise, identities and experiences, the community engagement that the committee

oversees will invite all community members to participate in a process that informs the decision of a new name.” Ryerson added that the committee’s work will result in recommendations that will be submitted to university leadership for consideration, which will then be presented to the BoG for a decision by the end of the 2021-22 academic year. In an email to The Eye, Wreckonciliation X University, a collective of Indigenous students who initially called for the university to be renamed, wrote that despite Indigenous leadership leading the renaming process, the involvement of Indigenous community members “is still being marginalized.” “The advisory committee must reflect the perspectives of First Nations, Inuit, Métis and Newcomers equitably,” the group wrote. Lori Campbell, associate vicepresident of Indigenous engagement at the University of Regina in Saskatchewan, said Indigenous voices should carry an equitable weight and should receive equitable compensation for their expertise on Indigenous issues. “What often happens is that we are only invited to specific tables when those who hold power are at those tables,” said Campbell. “Usually white people think that the topic they are covering is an Indigenous

issue and, in doing so, they assume that we should jump at the opportunity to provide free labour to elevate their work.” As of Sept. 27, neither Black nor Kiera Meinart, another student representative on the committee from RTA, had received information that they would be compensated for their work on the committee, with Meinart adding she was “under the impression it is a voluntary position.” However, a media representative from the university told The Eye on Sept. 28 that all students on the committee will receive an honorarium for their time and work. Black said she believes all student committee members, including non-Indigenous ones, should be paid for their time, as they are not just struggling with physical labour on the committee but emotional labour as well. According to Black, some of the committee members also provide funding to the university, which she says creates a power imbalance.

“Reconciliation isn’t performative and it isn’t a show” Ryerson confirmed the participation of donors on the renaming committee in a statement to The Eye, writing, “the committee consists of faculty, staff, students and alumni who are engaged members of the Ryerson community. As such, some of the members are also donors who actively support university initiatives.” This includes Ryerson alumna Valerie Pringle, a Canadian television host and journalist who owns a $5.5 million home near Casa Loma. According to Black and Meinart, the formation of the committee and their own involvement was a hasty process. “The invitations were sent out only a week before the publication of the committee,” said Black. The student representatives had their names put forward by staff members for the committee in early

September, with both receiving their official ‘acceptance’ letters on the week of Sept. 10 from the Office of the President. Lachemi previously said the Task Force recommended the school engage in an open process and include all community members to be part of the renaming conversation. At an August BoG meeting, Lachemi agreed to keep the Ryerson community updated on the progress of all 22 task force recommendations. According to the university, biographies for the advisory committee members, as well as the committee’s mandate and timeline, will be made available in the coming days on Ryerson’s Next Chapter webpage. Yet, when requested before accepting the position, Black said she was not sent information on the time commitment for the committee. “What is seen here is direct tokenization of Indigenous students, exactly when the Canadian government has decided that our lives matter, just a bit, by enacting Canada’s First Truth and Reconciliation Day,” said Black. Campbell said it’s important for non-Indigenous university administrations to avoid tokenizing select people from Indigenous communities in order to fit their ideal amount of representation. “What it should look like is providing resources so that Indigenous Peoples can have the opportunity to gather amongst themselves, with their own trusted elders, knowledge-keepers to heal from the trauma,” said Campbell. “NonIndigenous leadership needs to do their own decolonizing work. They should be learning about how they are tied to and invested in the colonial project.” “Reconciliation isn’t performative and it isn’t a show.” A rally is being held at 7 p.m. on Oct. 6 at Church and Gould streets in response to the advisory committee’s lack of Indigenous representation. With files from Heidi Lee, Thea Gribilas and Sarah Tomlinson

International students face vaccination challenges during transition back to campus By Sophia De Guzman The transition to post-secondary education can be difficult experience, but for international students, there’s a whole other set of challenges. Getting an approved vaccination status has made things more difficult for students abroad. On June 9, Ryerson president Mohamed Lachemi announced that the fall semester would act as a transition period, gradually increasing in-person activities with an aim to have winter 2022 be fully in-person. Many domestic students were excited about the return to in-person

learning, but for students outside of the country, the excitement was shadowed by a cloud of uncertainty surrounding the logistics of coming back to campus—particularly around vaccination status. As of Sept. 7, the university accepts the World Health Organization’s (WHO) approved COVID-19 vaccines by students accessing campus. However, students who were vaccinated abroad may still face challenges in receiving Ontario’s vaccine passport. Set to be fully implemented on Oct. 22, the passport will only accept Health Canada approved vaccines. Third-year social work student

Dezerie Fernando said she didn’t realize her vaccination status could affect how she returned to Canada and the length of her quarantine. “I knew that [Canada was] open to travellers, and you have to quarantine, but we didn’t know that [the brand of vaccine] would affect how much you needed to quarantine,” she said. Fernando is an international student and received support from Ryerson’s International Student Support (ISS) with her journey back to Canada, like many international students will this winter. Typically responsible for helping students adjust to living in Canada

with immmigration consultants and advisors on hand, ISS has now become responsible for helping international students meet the COVID-19 requirements for entry into the country. Students coming back to Canada receive weekly emails and individual support, with information about restriction updates, insurance information and locations for vaccine clinic pop-ups. International students will be contacted and guided by ISS on what is necessary to enter the country, helped with finding off-campus accommodations for their isolation and directed to places where they can get vaccinated with Canadi-

an-approved vaccines or be given booster shots. However, Canadians who went to another country during the pandemic must navigate the transition back on their own. On developing a plan to re-enter campus after a year of living in Pakistan, third-year journalism student Ayleen Karamat said, “Ryerson hasn’t informed [me of] anything...I literally found out through the RyersonSafe app specifically that I’m not allowed to enter because I’m technically unvaccinated. They haven’t done anything to help that. It’s really frustrating when you don’t know what to do.” Read the full story at



Decolonizing design: Rye alum reimagines Ojibwe jewelry By Samreen Maqsood Edie Assinewe, a 2021 retail management graduate, is working to reclaim traditional Ojibwe beading through her family business, Assinewe Jewelry. Assinewe collaborates with her twin sister Jacquelyn to make clay and beaded jewelry inspired by traditional Ojibwe designs. Through this, they hope to represent traditional language and teachings in their pieces. According to Assinewe, joining Ryerson’s retail management bachelor of commerce program in 2016 was a perfect choice as it allowed her to combine her love for fashion and business. She said her time at school was “really helpful in getting to work toward building a brand and business.” In August 2020 Assinewe and her sister started designing and making jewelry while she took one final fall semester of online school. “I was able to work on making products while I was listening to courses, so I felt it really easy to balance,” she said. Assinewe combined her beading skills with her sister’s clay working skills to make earrings out of these two materials. She learned how to bead in 2018 from local community members in Toronto, while her sister learned how to create clay pieces through online tutorials.

to go into stores to see the materials, which forced her to order everything online. “It was especially hard for the beading products, because colours online can look different than in person. So, if something didn’t work out, there wasn’t anything we could really do about it,” she said.

“We wanted to infuse traditional knowledge, culture resurgence and language into everything we do” COURTESY: ASSINEWE JEWELRY Assinewe and her sister are members of the Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation. On her journey of learning how to do beadwork, she took an interest in learning the history behind traditional Ojibwe beadwork. “A lot of our products are influenced by traditional Ojibwe motifs, such as moons and flowers, which are really important in Ojibwe culture,” she said. According to an article by CBC, at least 8,000 years before settlers came to Canada, Indigenous communities were using beading practices for trade. Assinewe said there are technical

ways to do beadwork, “an Ojibwe way.” Different beading styles include lazy or lane stitch, a way to cover a large amount of surface quickly; loom beading, using a loom to weave and bead; and brick stitch, a method most traditionally used for earrings.

“We wanted to really focus on bringing the community together” According to a 2019 article by Vogue, pre-colonization, Indigenous Peoples also adorned themselves with versions of their own beading. The beadwork pieces featured are

named in Anishinaabemowin, the Ojibwe language. For example, the ‘Manidoo’ beaded floral earrings on their website means “Spirit.” The ‘Medicine Stud’ series of earrings are infused with sacred medicines and named in Anishinaabemowin. The ‘Wiingashk’ stud earrings translates to “sweet grass.” “Whenever people make the order, I just make them,” explained Assinewe. “We always have them done within 14 days after an order is placed.” Assinewe said starting a business in the middle of the pandemic was no easy feat. The biggest challenge she faced was not being able

However, their number one priority was to make their products accessible to people with lower incomes, according to Assinewe. This is why she also introduced the polymer clay line, as they are less expensive to buy than the beads. Many of these products are showcased on their growing Instagram page. “We wanted to really focus on bringing the community together. That’s kind of prevailing in our social media strategy, where we share a lot of photos from our customers and from the community,” she said. When thinking about their business and deciding what was important for it, Assinewe said they took several factors into account. “We wanted to infuse traditional knowledge, cultural resurgence and language into everything that we do.”

New Ryerson Image Centre exhibitions seek sovereignty through art By Elizabeth Sargeant A new semester at Ryerson University means a new lineup of artists exhibiting their work at the Ryerson Image Centre (RIC) on campus. Dana Claxton, Rama Hamdeh, Susan Dobson and Emmanuelle Léonard are featured in this semester’s exhibitions. The four artists are displaying photographs and multimedia pieces that explore spaces across the world that seek sovereignty and decolonization. “We’re so pleased to open our galleries once again after a long closure,” said RIC director Paul Roth in a Ryerson Today article. “The RIC team has worked hard to create a safe and welcoming gallery environment so our guests can experience these remarkable exhibitions.” Dana Claxton: Scotiabank Photography Award Dana Claxton is a multidisciplinary artist and member of Wood Mountain Lakota First Nation located in Saskatchewan. Her work in film, photography and performance art examines spirituality, Indigenous culture and stereotypical representations of Indigenous communities in Western media.

Her exhibition covers a large portion of the space, with each wall representing a different theme: land, cultural belongings and the figures of Indigenous bodies. Her photography also highlights the aesthetic of Indigenous beauty and the pride in the diversity of regalia, combining it with contemporary art. “Art is within the realm of spirit,” Claxton said during a virtual RIC event on Sept. 22. “When it comes to [art], I’m very spontaneous and intuitive. For me, it’s something that I see and then I have to bring it out.” Claxton’s photography will be on deh wrote, “displaced peoples often display until Dec. 4. collect and cherish soils from their lands of origin, and this practice Rama Nazzal Hamadeh: 1/1,000th embodies a knowledge explored of a Dunam in this exhibition. All the soil used Rana Nazzal Hamadeh is a Pales- here, both material and virtual, was tinian-Canadian artist and gradu- collected in Palestine. It symbolizes ate of Ryerson’s master’s of fine arts memory and takes on new meaning documentary media program. Her as it travels from one occupied land exhibition, 1/1,000th of a Dunam, to another and takes new forms.” explores Palestinian power within Hamadeh’s work can be seen at the form of land by photographing the RIC until Oct. 23. Palestinian territory in a frame of belonging versus denial. According Susan Dobson: Slide / Lecture to Hamadeh, her work examines de- Photography professor at Guelph colonization straight to the root of University Susan Dobson has creatthe territory—its soil. ed an exhibition out of abandoned In a statement to the RIC, Hama- lecture slides she’s discovered at


Canadian universities to highlight the gap in curricula surrounding diverse representations of culture and art. According to Dobson, upon reviewing her discovered old art history slides, she realized sections, such as West African Art, only featured around 30 slides, when other topics featured more than 100. In her exhibtion, Slide / Lecture, Dobson photographed these slides as if dismantling the biases on the slides herself, seperating them into piles and displaying the exclusion of racialized people and women in art. Dobson’s work is on display until Dec. 4.

Emmanuelle Léonard: Deployment Emmanuelle Léonard is a Canadian photographer whose exhibition Deployment highlights the complex presence of the military in Qausuittuq, Nvt. to assert Canadian sovereignty. Deployment features both photographic portraits and videos that highlight lives of soldiers, focusing on the passage of time, harsh climates and the anonymity that comes with militarized uniforms. According to the RIC, the exhbition captures a space “where the climate crisis has intensified national, political and economic stakes.” Léonard’s work will be on display until Dec. 4.



Ryerson prof receives funding for eco-conscious packaging research Ehsan Behzadfar’s research focuses on finding solutions to the environmental concerns caused by plastic materials in packaging By Naomi Chen Ryerson graphic communications management (GCM) professor Ehsan Behzadfar recently received funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) for his research on green packaging solutions. Supported by the John R. Evans Leaders Fund, the award selects outstanding researchers in innovation from a competitive international pool. “Approval for projects like this sends us a message that the government and the CFI care about these topics,” Behzadfar said. Behzadfar’s research focuses on finding solutions to address environmental concerns caused by plastic materials in packaging.

“We should be mindful about where we’re going to use plastic... and about their end of life cycle” According to the professor, “If we don’t do anything about this, we’re going to have more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050.” In 2019, National Geographic reported that plastic production is increasing around the world exponentially, “from 2.3 million tonnes in 1950 to 448 million tonnes by 2015, and is expected to double by 2050.” Moreover, some plastic can take up to 400 years to break down due to their flexible and durable components.

As a result, “we should be mindful about where we’re going to use plastic, how we’re going to use them, and about their end of life cycle,” Behzadfar said. The grant will support Behzadfar’s research in developing biodegradable multilayer polymers, green-based packaging materials from natural resources such as plant proteins, for packaging applications. Natural components in packaging design allow for an easier and faster breakdown process in landfills over time, according to the journal of Advanced Industrial and Engineering Polymer Research. The fund will also help with research infrastructure, as this project is highly practical according to Behzadfar. The team will need to develop, work with and experiment with packages, the professor said. Behzadfar’s research in eco-friendly packaging design will also involve engineering plastic packages so that they can be more sustainable. “Right now we have a lot of issues with waste management,” he said. “Even if we collect all the plastics, we are not able to recycle or reuse them.” Unfortunately, despite the fact that plastic is becoming increasingly prevalent in our lives, little is currently recycled due to its material properties. The World Economic Forum released a report in 2016 stating that “32 per cent of plastic packaging escapes collection systems, generating significant economic costs by reducing the productivity of vital natu-

ral systems such as the ocean and clogging urban infrastructure.” The overall immense costs associated with plastic packaging and production call for a greener alternative. To Behzadfar, the solution to help with plastic pollution has to be a collaborative effort. “The problem is for everyone, and the solution should also come from everyone.”

“We should come up with a variety of sustainable solutions and get everyone involved” While he said he believes there should be limited reliance on corporations alone, Behzadfar stresses the urgency for businesses, the government and consumers to work together on packaging sustainability. Another important aspect is feasibility, he said. “If it causes too much inconvenience to the customer, for example, then they won’t want to use it.” An example of sustainable packaging is Nespresso’s recyclable coffee cups, said Behzadfar, where customers ship the coffee container back to the manufacturer once they’re finished with their drinks. The coffee cup comes with a Canada Post baggage so that consumers can ship it back conveniently. “This is a good example of the things that might work in the real world, but besides that,” he said, “we shouldn’t limit ourselves to one so-


lution. We should come up with a variety of sustainable solutions and get everyone involved.” There are also different approaches to urban and rural areas in terms of sustainability, according to the professor. In urban areas, for example, there are a lot of garbage cans around, so collection is usually more efficient. For suburban areas, on the other hand, where people own a lot of land, “we need to then look at more biodegradable or compostable solutions.” “That’s why,” said Behzadfar, “we need to be very agile in offering these solutions.” Given more time and resources, Behzadfar hopes to continue looking into the science and fundamen-

tals of sustainable packaging initiatives, which are “in their infant stage now.” Recently, he focused on ways to make multilayer packages or part of the packages biodegradable.

“The problem is for everyone, and the solution should also come from everyone” Behzadfar also welcomes students to become involved. There are opportunities for voluntary services or sometimes paid positions. Students can find more information about areas of involvement on Behzadfar’s Ryerson webpage.

SLC upgrades living green wall where plants struggled to survive By Ryan O’Connor The outside entrance to the Sheldon & Tracy Levy Student Learning Centre (SLC) is a well known meeting spot for the droves of students who pass through the building’s doors daily. In their next visit, students can expect to see that the living green wall received a facelift over the summer. The living wall was first implemented in 2015 along with the opening of the SLC. The new month-long project started in late-July this year and involved removing and reinstalling approximately 1,850 square feet of green roof infrastructure, according to Deo Pacquette, the wall’s project manager from Ontario-based architectural firm Seferian Design. “The recent improvement project optimizes growing conditions for a new assortment of plantings to help them thrive in a tough climate and challenging location,” said Pacquette. “Previous plantings in the old green wall system were


struggling, but the new wall should provide a lush, green feature for the SLC’s entryway.” The team at Seferian Design optimized the lighting, irrigation and drainage systems to ensure the new plants thrived in Canada’s harsh weather conditions. Doing this required the removal of all existing netting and plant ma-

terial, installing leak detection and remediation, a new irrigation system and controllers, replacing the drainage system and putting in new plantings and plant bed infrastructure on the wall. “This intricate system of passive green roofing helps reduce the building’s energy use and mitigate the ‘heat island effect’ in the sur-

rounding city.” According to the Environmental Protection Agency, structures such as tall buildings and and roads absorb and re-emit more of the sun’s heat than natural landscapes, causing a “heat island effect” in urban areas. In 2009, the City of Toronto became the first North American city to adopt a bylaw to require

buildings with a certain amount of square footage to have green roofs. Due in part to the three green roof systems it has in place, the SLC exceeded its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) target and achieved LEED Gold status in 2016. LEED is the most widely-used green building rating system in the world and being certified is a globally recognized symbol for leadership in sustainability. The living wall and roof infrastructure starts at the main entrance to the SLC and runs along the entire Yonge Street length of the building before wrapping around the north end. The ground floor wall and roof are a combined 2,500 square feet of green roof infrastructure. “The SLC’s green roof system was part of its agreement with the city to build and maintain a healthy, functional green roof when the SLC was constructed,” said Pacquette. “Ensuring the green roof is functioning as intended is a requirement under the agreement.”



Against All Odds: Rams men’s hockey players making an impact off the ice By Jordan Jacklin In June 2020, amidst Black Lives Matter protests against police brutality across North America, Rams men’s hockey forward Kyle Bollers used his clothing company Against All Odds to make a difference. That was when the ‘One’ T-shirt line was created and became a success, generating $1,000 for charity. The shirt is a basic black colour and has the word ‘One’ one the front. Inside the shirt are words like “family,” “love” and “desire.” The back of the shirt reads “judged by content of my character.” As a Black hockey player, Bollers designed the shirt with a message of hope and unity in mind. “It’s meaningful to my family and me and it’s a big part of my life. My dad is African-American and my step dad is Caucasian so it was kind of perfect,” said Bollers when discussing the ‘One’ design.

“The biggest challenge is that hockey’s an expensive sport” The brand’s name stems from Bollers’ trials and tribulations in the world of hockey and his determination to succeed in the sport against the odds. Against All Odds, or AAO for short as Bollers likes to call it, started as a three letter acronym he used to causally throw around and has now evolved into a brand that strives to face challenges and conquer them. “I didn’t have an easy path, as I


was never a first-line player or Ontario Hockey League (OHL) draft pick. The message just stuck with me,” said Bollers. The 22-year-old said he’s always been into clothing and starting the company in February 2020 gave him a creative outlet to harness his passion and spread the AAO message. Bollers said he plans to donate the proceeds from the sales of the shirt to the Kiwanis Boys and Girls Club, an organization in Toronto that aims to provide youth with accesible opporunities in areas like sport, creative arts and literacy. Marnie Smith, director of program and services for Kiwanis, emphasized how much donations help impact the children in Kiwanis. "Any money coming into the club is a huge help to support the work that we do," she said. "Ninety per cent of our donations go into direct service, so with this specific donation, it could potentially go into sports equipment, activities or

nutrition programs.” A 2019 survey of 1,000 American and Canadian hockey parents conducted by FlipGive and Scotiabank found that 26 per cent of hockey parents in Canada take on another job to help pay for the seasons. In addition, the same survey found that nearly 41 per cent of hockey parents spend between $5,000 and $10,000 a year on the sport. "The biggest challenge is that hockey is an expensive sport and there's a lot of communities where families don't have enough money. It is hard for them to even get into a game and when they get there, it is hard for them to stay in because of the associated costs,” said Rams men’s hockey forward Elijah Roberts, a longtime friend of Bollers. Roberts also tackles the topic of racial injustice regularly on the Soul On Ice Podcast, which he co-hosts alongside film director Kwame Damon Mason and Los Angeles Kings prospect Akil Thomas.

"Both of us have helped a lot of people along the way. We want to change hockey for the next generation of BIPOC players to have the necessary support,” said Roberts. “Getting people more opportunities in low-income areas. In terms of what we've been able to do so far, it's pretty cool." There were only 44 active racialized players in the NHL during the 2020-21 season, according to a Global News report. During the 2020-21 NHL season, each team had an active game roster of 23 players and were allowed to carry between four to six players as a “taxi sqaud” due to COVID-19. The NHL is made up of over 700 players, which means that during last season, racialized athletes accounted for less than 10 per cent of the league. But the low number of racialized players in the NHL hasn’t hindered the two from chasing their dreams. Bollers and Roberts played hockey together growing up and their

bond has continued to strengthen over the years. This year marks an opportunity for their relationship to continue to grow. “We haven't played on the same team since we were little kids, '' said Roberts. “It's pretty special just being able to go out and play in the same game after this long.” Bollers joined the Rams after playing with the Brantford 99ers of the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL) in the 2019-20 season. Due to COVID-19, he hasn’t played the sport in a year and a half and says he's ready to get back on the ice. "I've heard nothing but good things about Ryerson's program. Their facilities are unbelievable and they have a great organization,” said Bollers. “It's pretty much like playing in an OHL rink, how could I say no to that?”

“We want to change hockey for the next generation of BIPOC players” As he awaits to suit up for the Rams men’s hockey team in the coming weeks, he remains motivated by the brand he created. In the upcoming year, Bollers plans on releasing another clothing line to expand the brand. He said he also hopes to do smaller projects within the local community. It’s an important year ahead for Bollers and Roberts both on and off the ice and they’ll look to continue to triumph in sport and in life, against all odds.

Rams men’s basektball guard returns from Rwanda with new outlook on life By Matthew Davison For one Rams men’s basektball star, who was only a rookie the last time his team played a game, the pandemic hiatus helped bolster a blossoming career. In late August, third-year guard Mouhamed Alga took to the court in the 2021 FIBA AfroBasket tournament in Kigali, Rwanda. Alga had the opportunity to represent Senegal, the country he moved from when he was 11-years-old. “I learned a lot. I had the chance to talk to a lot of people that are more experienced than me,” he said. “There were a lot of pros that had some great, great careers.” Alga was faced with the challenging task of playing against experienced players after not playing the sport in over a year and a half. He mentioned how difficult it was initially to find his rhythm and adjust to the pace of the game after months of being limited to open runs or pickup five-on-five at local gyms.

He said he believes that in those two weeks in Rwanda, he evolved not just as a player but as a person thanks to the help of his teammates and coaches. “They gave me advice on how to get my career started, how to get the job to carry myself,” said Alga. “From that point, I’ve learned to grow as a young man.” The 22-year-old guard was the youngest player on the team and started out the tournament playing limited minutes. Alga also talked about having to earn the trust of his coach Boniface N’Dong, a former NBA player. “You can’t just come up and get everything you want, you have to work for it. You have to earn it,” said Alga, adding that this approach meant he had to make the most of every minute on the court. Alga began the tournament playing less than 20 minutes per night, but in the game where his team captured the bronze medal against Cape Verde, he played a personal

tournament-high 30 minutes. He finished the event tied as the team’s third-highest leading scorer with 9.2 points per game. He likened this progression to his first year with the Rams. The 2019 recruit out of Thetford Academy prep school gained more responsibility as the season progressed, became an integral part of the Rams’ offence and eventually Ryerson’s 2020 Male Rookie of the Year. Now entering his third year with the team, Alga has suddenly been thrust into the team’s veteran leadership group. He said that in his new role, he hopes to help his teammates off the court, teach them how to take care of their bodies and how to carry themselves like professional basektball players. Alga recalled how during his first year, former Rams forward Keevon Small was the veteran he could go to for advice. Now he’s hoping to pay it forward. The 22-year-old shooting guard, is likely to have a larger role on the

PHOTO: JOSEPH SHENOUDA team this year than when we last saw the Rams play. However, Alga is excited to display his development for U SPORTS basketball fans. “They will probably see a more mature player,” he said. “I’ve worked on my weaknesses, so they will definitely see a different player.” From Senegal to Toronto and to Kigali, Alga sees each day of his bas-

ketball career as a dream come true. It’s this mentality that pushes him to continue working hard. “If I have an opportunity to play against the best in the definitely motivates me to work even harder,” said Alga. “From now on it’s just continuing to work on trying to get better every day.”



Students celebrate spooky season by sitting quietly with their thoughts By Julia Dwyer

get comfy and let my brain go ham. By the end of the night I’ll probably end up As spooky season finally emerges, it’s wanting to change my name and flee the time to pull out those musty old Hal- country, but…you know…” loween decorations, head to Amazon for your new Squid Game costume and “I’ll just settle in on my open up Netflix’s terrible selection of sofa bed, get comfy and horror movies. However, for many Ryerson stulet my brain go ham” dents, the regular haunts aren’t cutting it this year. To make the season really scary, Many agree with Cruller. “What some are finding just being alone with could be scarier?” asked fourth-year their thoughts is more horrifying than English student Michelle Myers. “Let any other Halloween undertaking. everything else go quiet, wait for your “Instead of going to a party at Pitman ears to stop ringing and tap into the like I did last year, I just want to get in scariest place out there: your head.” touch with myself, you know?” said secOthers point out this new way of goond-year criminology student Freddy ing about the season is much cheaper Cruller. “I’ll just settle in on my sofa bed, than other equally festive activities. Hal-

loween attractions can be expensive for those who lean toward ‘broke’ on the income scale. Third-year biology student Annabelle McDoll isn’t going to any spooky events this year. “I already pay my therapist. I don’t need to pay for clowns on top of that,” she said. McDoll isn’t alone. When students are alone with their thoughts, danger is everywhere. That essay you thought you handed in yesterday? You accidentally submitted your book report on polar bears from middle school instead. That creepy guy on Tinder who never seemed to get a clue? Don’t you hear that? He’s standing right behind you. That pre-Halloween horror movie you watched last night? Yeah…BOO!

ing Thoughts: What Now?, said the human brain can have a mind of its own. “Being alone with yourself is deeply psychologically scarring, more so than any pumpkin patch or haunted attraction,” she said. “Your amygdala taps into that thing called fear, and suddenly you have every reason to think about how sick and twisted you really are.” If you’re a student who doesn’t think they can handle a night alone with your thoughts, help will soon be available. Warren has set up an OctoberThe brain can have a only counselling service with Ryerson. mind of its own There is, however, a three-week waiting period. Psychologist Edna-Lorraine WarIn the meantime, she suggests going ren, who wrote the award-winning to Halloween Haunt at Canada’s Wonnovel So You’re Alone With Your Depress- derland “to relax and unwind a little.” Heeeeere’s Johnny! Intrusive thoughts are just another layer on the cake. A recent survey by student run-newspaper On the Record shows one in three Ryerson students experience intrusive thoughts. Upon completion of the survey, second-year biology student Gannibal Lestor said: “My intrusive thoughts are bad, man. Like, I really thought about eating my toenails during a tutorial the other day.”

The 4 people from high school you see on Tinder By Merida Moffat The “Hey Shawty” The classic Drake-loving business student that you’ve seen way too often at Ryerson—but their antics had to start somewhere, and high school was that place. He’d always ask you if you had any spare JUUL pods and walked around playing his SoundCloud remixes from a speaker. You know that if you swipe right, he’ll say: “I know a spot,” and take you to a hookah lounge or Warehouse. The “Looking for a third” Ah, that one couple who made out in the hallway right by your locker every day. Their first photo is inevitably a mirror pic of them being “cutesy” and the next is them at a Jays’ game. You’re not surprised they’re on Tinder annoying everyone while looking for a third. They’re not unattractive, but you don’t want to get involved in that mess—they “broke up” seven times just in high school. You need relationship stability. The country bumpkin Here’s one you were absolutely dreading seeing: that guy who drove a truck and wore a cowboy hat and hockey T-shirt to school every day, even in a snowstorm. Much of his personality revolved around his one “sick” scar on his calf that he absolutely insists he got in a dirt biking accident. A wonderful combo of misogyny and racism mixed with some lovely Axe body spray. This one’s a definite pass. The one you matched with as a joke This is the person who was sort of friends with one of your friends, who your other friend did a group project with. Sound familiar? They’re not unattractive or a bad person…you just think it would be so awkward if you matched. Do you really want to hear about what they’ve been up to since high school? But you’re so tempted to swipe right just to see if they swiped right on you. You end up doing it, and they open with a “hey”—so you roll your eyes and move on. Read the full story at

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