Volume 102, Issue 32
February 11, 2013 mcgilldaily.com
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The McGill Daily Monday, February 11, 2013 mcgilldaily.com
03 NEWS Council creates referendum question on new equity fee
Canadian security certificate practice criticized
Progress in immigration cases
Survey on sexism in Physics
07 COMMENTARY In defence of emotion
Racist costumes at Igloofest
09 SCI+TECH Why the avian flu moratorium matters How do you measure the value of science?
11 SPORTS Is it okay to keep watching sports?
Rake&Co., a new culture mag
Review: TNC’s Hosanna
Wendy, Montreal’s art school webcomic
We want our student-run cafe
16 COMPENDIUM! Faculty, administration discussions overheard Campus Crops celebrates harvest
Photo Hera Chan | The McGill Daily
Protesters disrupt forum on natural resources “Fuck the Plan Nord,” crowd chants Molly Korab and Farid Rener The McGill Daily
pproximately 400 protesters attempted to disrupt the Strategic Forum on natural resources at the Palais des Congrès in the midst of a blizzard on Friday. The protest gathered in solidarity with Indigenous peoples whose land and communities would be displaced or destroyed by the $80-billion development and resource exploitation initiative that the Quebec government is calling “one of the biggest social and environmental projects in our time.” The Plan Nord, aggressively promoted under the Liberal government after being announced in May 2011 by former Premier Jean Charest, was rebranded ‘Le Nord pour tous’ by the Parti Québécois (PQ), who replaced the Liberals in September. The plan has been touted as a 25-year economic booster that will create or consolidate 20,000 jobs per year by exploiting the natural resources in the region. Planned activities include digging mines, expanding forestry, and damming rivers. Residents of the Innu territory of Nitassinan, which comprised much of north-eastern Quebec and Labrador, and activists across Quebec have been protesting the Plan since its inception. In April 2012, a handful of Innu women walked 900 kilometres from CôteNord to Montreal to participate in
demonstrations outside the Plan Nord job fair on April 20. That demonstration ended with several police and demonstrators being taken to the hospital. “They’re clear cutting, they’re digging open mine pits where people are still living off the forest, and are threatening the life as we know it of future generations,” Yvan Bombardier, a member of First Nations community organization La Famille, who was present at the protest, told The Daily. The forum focused on integrating local business and industrial interests in mining, forestry, and natural gas extraction. Friday’s forum, which was followed by the Natural Resources Trade Show, was meant to give participants a chance to discover how the expertise and know-how of the city’s businesses can be channelled to support resource processing, what promotional materials dubbed “an essential driver of our economy.” The trade show, which brought together companies such as Enbridge, Gaz Métro, and SNCLavalin, provided networking opportunities for businesses and individuals interested in becoming part of the government’s large investments in northern Quebec. The Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) had anticipated the protest and declared it illegal before it set off from Square Victoria, where demonstrators gathered at midday. As the march
wended its way toward the Palais, helmeted police flanked the protest on either side. Protesters were informed that they had to walk in the same direction as traffic. “[The protest] was declared illegal since the itinerary was not given to the authorities before the start of the protest,” SPVM spokesperson Laurent Gingras told The Daily by phone. Around twenty riot police were deployed at the beginning of the march, joined later by approximately five vans full of police in riot gear. Police on bicycles and police vans followed the protest. “We had officers prepared and forces were ready and responded to the threat. Forces were planned [beforehand],” Gingras said. Once the march arrived at the Palais, protesters found the doors locked, as police looked on from inside. Demonstrators, many of whom were holding the green and black flags of green anarchists, pounded on the windows and chanted slogans such as “Fuck the Plan Nord” in French. “The PQ iteration of the Plan Nord has become even more insidious, even more hypocritical [than the Liberal’s plan],” Hubert Sabino, a protester who was standing behind a banner which read “AntiCapitalist Convergence,” told The Daily in French. The protest receded from the Palais several times throughout the afternoon, pushed away by
police. Protesters did a loop of several city blocks before returning to the Palais. The protest dispersed at around 2:30 p.m. as police vans filled with riot police chased demonstrators, who were on foot, uphill on University. Once the protest had scattered, riot police who were driving around the area accosted small groups of people who were walking together on the sidewalk with shouts in French of “It’s over!” and “You must leave the area!” As the protest was attempting to disrupt the forum, Canada National Railway (CN) suspended their preliminary plans on an 800-kilometre, $5-billion railway line meant to carry minerals north of Sept-Iles, a region in north-eastern Quebec. The project had been criticized by the Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam community after its inception in October. Chief Georges-Ernest Grégoire said at the time that he had received “no word” from CN officials despite their claims to the contrary. In a statement released on Friday, Premier Pauline Marois stated that the government was looking at other scenarios for financing northern infrastructure. “We might eventually find alternative solutions,” she said in French. Another protest was scheduled for Saturday, after The Daily went to print. Check www.mcgilldaily.com for updates.
The McGill Daily | Monday, February 11, 2013 | mcgilldaily.com
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SSMU talks equity on campus Winter Referendum period postponed
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Photo Robert Smith | The McGill Daily Esther Lee and Dana Wray The McGill Daily
he SSMU Legislative Council created a referendum question to create an opt-outable $0.50 Equity Fund fee and discussed the re-scheduling of the upcoming Winter Referendum at its meeting last Thursday. Council began with a report from SSMU Equity Commissioners Justin Koh and Shaina Agbayani regarding the recent activities of the commission. The Equity Commission is currently working with McGill’s Diversity and Equity Lab and its research on racial micro-aggression on campus. According to the Commission, micro-aggression is defined as subtle forms of intentional and unintentional racism, sexism, homophobia, and heterosexualism. Led by two post-graduate students, this initiative seeks to quantify and qualify experiences of racial discrimination to better establish a foundation for projects to foster equity. The Diversity and Equity Research Lab has conducted investigations with students identifying as visible minorities and First Nations, and found that within the research group, a majority of students of colour surveyed often felt uncomfortable on campus. Their research also found that a number of respondents described
Concordia as a significantly less discriminatory environment. Under-representation of Aboriginal and visible minority faculty members is an ongoing issue at the University. The researchers noted that this is especially alarming as professors and teaching assistants have been documented inaccurately portraying distinct cultures during classroom lectures. Currently, the Diversity and Equity Research Lab seeks to conduct additional focus group studies for various campus demographics including religious minorities, queer and trans* students, graduate students, and faculty members. The presentation recommended that all campuses incorporate formal mechanisms to influence dialogue that address implicit biases. Though SSMU’s Equity Commission is active, McGill does not have a universal equity policy and does not provide permanent financial support to any equity-related projects. The motion to create a referendum question for an opt-outable Equity Fund was moved by Clubs and Services representative Zach Rosentzveig, Arts representative Colleen Morawetz, VP University Affairs Haley Dinel and Senate Caucus representative Max Zidel. The motion passed by 22 for, 0 oppositions, and 5 abstentions.
Changes in electoral schedule
SSMU was forced to change its electoral schedule for the upcoming
Winter Referendum period to better adapt to the current financial context of the University, according to SSMU President Josh Redel. The Council tabled motions regarding the increase or creation of ancillary fees for Student Services, Athletics, and the McGill Writing Centre. “Since the fee questions were written, several big changes have occurred, and we want to make sure that we are making the best decision possible,” Redel told The Daily in an email. The Motion Regarding Environment Fee Referendum Question, and the Motion Regarding Charity Fee Referendum Question both passed in the meeting. Redel explained that these questions were managed “directly and solely by students,” rather than by McGill, and so were not affected by the electoral timeline changes. The Sustainability Projects Fund (SPF) Fee Referendum Question motion was tabled as well. “The University is no longer able to match the dollar amount provided by students for the fund, so we are looking [into the] alternatives,” Redel said in Council. Previously, the SPF charged a non-opt-outable fee of $0.50 per credit for all SSMU and PostGraduate Students’ Society (PGSS) students, and this money was then matched by the university. The SPF has funded 91 projects since its inception in 2010.
The McGill Daily | Monday, February 11, 2013 | mcgilldaily.com
Former detainee speaks out on CSIS abuse Mohammad Mahjoub suffered “abuse and humiliation” from Canadian officials Laurent Bastien Corbeil The McGill Daily
anada’s security apparatus has a long history of unfairly targeting minorities and subjecting them to abuse, a panel of activists at McGill’s Faculty of Law said Friday, calling for a halt to the government’s issuing of security certificates to noncitizens living in Canada. Security certificates grant the government power to deport foreign nationals suspected of posing a threat to national security with limited review from a federal court. Mohammad Mahjoub, one of the panelists, was arrested in 2000 after the Department of Justice issued a security certificate against him for his alleged ties to the Vanguards of Conquest, an Egyptian Islamist group. A federal court ruled in December, however, that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) had obtained its evidence against Mahjoub through torture. “A day after September 11  happened, I was taken from the general population and put in segregation for two months and a half,” he said. “I was on suicide watch, in a dark cell without windows […] it was severely cold.” Mahjoub alleged that he was subject to abuse and humiliation from his jailors and said that he was regularly strip-searched, sometimes “up to ten times a day.” “The Canadian official tried to sexual[ly] assault me, they strip searched me at any moment. I kept
David Austin (left) and Mohammad Mahjoub criticized racial profiling in Canada. fighting for my rights,” he said. “When they tried to sexual[ly] assault me, I went on hunger strike for 24 days.” A GPS system attached to his ankle was cut off on February 1 after five years of surveillance. “My family couldn’t take the house arrest any longer. My eldest son tried to commit suicide,” he said. “His phone was tapped, his mail was tapped, his internet was tapped. They didn’t leave anything to us.” “My family told me, ‘we can’t accept you anymore.’ I became like cancer. We ended up separating,
divorced,” he added. The Canadian government has issued five security certificates in the last ten years, according to Patil Tutunjian, a panelist and a lawyer involved in a security certificate case. Two certificates were struck down in 2009, and the remaining two are currently subjects of a court case, she said. Mohamed Harkat, a native-born Algerian and permanent resident of Canada who was arrested in 2002, has a certificate pending review before the Supreme Court.
Photo Laurent Bastien Corbeil | The McGill Daily
“You can’t imagine the amount of money they spent [on me],” Mahjoub said. “They tortured me for 15 years mentally. It’s worse than to torture physically, because the pain doesn’t go away.” Tutunjian noted that staff at the Department of Justice seized documents belonging to Mahjoub’s defense, and that CSIS had admitted to wiretapping conversations between him and his lawyer. David Austin, another panelist, said the security certificate controversy is linked to a system of racial
profiling that is endemic in Canada. “We’re living in a dark moment in the history of humanity, especially for Arabs and Muslims or people who can be confused of being both,” he said. The harassment and profiling of black people by police is “not separate” from Mahjoub’s case or the experiences of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, he added. “We need to understand the continuity, [the] different forms of a similar process, which are not new by any stretch,” he said.
Two immigration cases supported by Parc-Ex community Canadian economy still built on migrant labour, say activists Farid Rener The McGill Daily
igrant justice network Solidarity Across Borders (SAB), a QPIRG Concordia working group, announced recently that significant inroads have been made in two immigration cases that they have been fighting for. Sami Sheikh, a 24-year-old resident of Parc Extension, who was facing deportation due to an error his parents made on their declaration when they first arrived in Canada 12 years ago, learned in January that he has been approved in principle for permanent residency. Sheikh’s parents were deported to the U.S. in 2009 after being denied refugee status. The family feared threats from members of Pakistan’s Muttahida Qaumi
Movement, due to Sheikh’s father’s involvement in the Pakistan People’s Party, a centre-left political party that was headed by Benazir Bhutto until her death in 2007. Their claim was rejected because they had not declared living in Dubai for twenty years prior to moving to Canada. “We were able to separate [Sheikh’s] case from the rest of his family because he was now an adult, so he was able to make a claim separately,” Jaggi Singh, an organizer with SAB and No One is Illegal, told The Daily in a phone interview. The Ghotra-Singh family, who have been in Canada for more than ten years, were told that they were being deported after their refugee claims were denied. On January 15, after their lawyer, Stewart Istvanffy, presented a motion to suspend the deportation order to the Federal Court, they received a stay of depor-
tation, meaning they would be able to stay in Canada for a few months longer while a judicial review is carried out on their case. Reetu Ghotra, who arrived in Canada in 2001, and her husband, Shimbi Singh, who arrived in 2002, filed for refugee status after Ghotra’s father, who spurned their marriage, threatened her husband. “He could have killed the guy. He was telling him, you keep away from my daughter, or you’re going to die,” Istvanffy told CTV in January. According to a press release published by SAB, Kamal – one of Ghotra and Singh’s two children – attends a class for special needs children as he has a severe language disorder and Global Developmental Delay; attending school in another language would be impossible for him.
The Ghotra-Singhs were only given a month’s notice to leave the country after they were served their deportation papers. Their stay of deportation means there is hope that their refugee claim might be successful in the future. However, Jaggi Singh told The Daily that SAB is wary of being too optimistic. “It’s about the fight,” he told The Daily. “The point for us is the struggle. We try to avoid the success failure dynamic...It’s about avoiding this case-by-case dynamic and having an ongoing comprehensive regularization program for all non-status folks who are living in Canada,” he said. SAB also argues that the Canadian economy is built on migrant labour. “[Migrants] are here without full status which makes it easier for them to be exploited in the work-
place. That’s not something that is just by chance, it is a deliberate outcome of [the government’s] policies – to create an immense pool of people who are easily exploited,” according to Jaggi Singh. SAB, through programs such as Solidarity City, tries to help immigrants feel less isolated, and more part of the local community. This has helped in cases such as Sheikh’s to garner support from local political figures. “We made a point that there was community support. In the end, all of the political figures in the neighbourhood came out and supported him,” Jaggi Singh said. Sheikh was thankful that the community rallied around him. “It’s because of their support that I received this positive response,” he said during a meeting with supporters in Parc Extension last month.
The McGill Daily | Monday, February 11, 2013 | mcgilldaily.com
WHAT’S THE HAPS
Social Justice Days February 9 to 15 Locations on campus Social Justice Days is an annual event series run by QPIRG McGill and SSMU seeking to stimulate alternative political culture at McGill and beyond. Some of the topics that will be discussed are black history in Montreal, sex workers’ self-determination, and anticolonialism struggles in the Philippines, among many others. Check qpirgmcgill.org for a full schedule of events.
AUS General Assembly February 11 6:00 p.m. FDA Auditorium The AUS is holding its Winter General Assembly on Monday evening, and all Arts students are invited to come, discuss, and vote on the motions presented. Among the topics to be discussed are course reductions, first-year transfer credits, and the AUS VP Finance portfolio.
Photo Hera Chan | The McGill Daily
Physics survey highlights sexism among students Department recognizes need for “female role models” Lola Duffort and Farid Rener The McGill Daily
number of Physics students at McGill have an “underlying belief that there is a difference in intellectual capacity between genders,” according to a report on gender equity authored by the McGill Society of Physics Students (MSPS). “Socio-cultural conditioning” and “innate differences in interest” between genders were also cited by respondents as potential causes for female underrepresentation in Physics. Women only represent 21.9 per cent of the undergraduates in Physics at McGill and about 13 per cent of those enrolled in Honours Physics. The report follows a 14-question survey conducted by MSPS in response to a Commentary article published in The Daily in October (“Fine Men, Sexist Pigs,” October 11, 2012, page 7), which highlighted the negative experiences of a female Physics student at McGill. “The MSPS made it its objective to investigate further to see if other females and/or students in the department were experiencing similar situations,” read a statement provided to The Daily by the MSPS executive. The survey was conducted online over a three-day period, and a total of 124 of 346 undergraduate Physics students responded. Twenty-eight of the respondents
were female. The MSPS report also noted that “several students referenced the hypothesis of [former] Harvard University President, Lawrence Summers, that there is an innate difference in mathematical and computational ability between genders.” Citing confidentiality concerns, the MSPS declined to share the results of the survey with The Daily. According to associate professor Tracy Webb, who sits on the department’s newly-formed Women in Physics Committee, and who has seen both the survey results as well as the report, the outcome is of no surprise. “These are issues that women in undergraduate Physics face everywhere,” she told The Daily. “These problems, like a lack of female role models, aren’t just at McGill.” Webb is one of the six women in the Physics department – a number which she says is actually quite high compared to other universities – and according to her, the department is making a concerted effort to be female-friendly. The department “recognizes a need for more female role models,” and “all things being held equal,” this is being implemented in its hiring practices, she told The Daily. “Offers are being made and accepted.” The Women in Physics Committee has begun a mentoring program, hosts talks, and plans events aimed at building a better community for women in
the department. Despite the department’s efforts, the survey indicates to Webb that the culture among undergraduates – and certain undergraduates in particular – needs some updating. “A few people are clearly making the atmosphere unpleasant,” she said. “There also seems to be an issue with the student lounge, which should absolutely be a safe space.” According to the report, several female students responded in the survey that they had been the victims of “obnoxious” behaviour in common areas, particularly the Physics students’ lounge. “In reference to derogatory language and gender specific comments in common areas, the MSPS believes it can be addressed by increasing the awareness of acceptable conduct followed by peer reinforcement,” the report says. The report, which identified gender equality as being a “social issue,” rather than an “academic” one, concludes that “the MSPS believes there are no official actions required by the Physics Department or the [MSPS] in response to the article ‘Fine Men, Sexist Pigs’.” A problematic methodology? SSMU Equity Commissioners Justin Koh and Shaina Agbayani take issue with the survey’s methodology. According to Koh, it is problematic that many of the questions were “ideological,” and not instead aimed at investigating “personal
experiences of discrimination.” In equity surveys such as these, “you need to look at people’s particular experiences in order to get the bigger picture,” he told The Daily. Questions from the survey included “Do you think males and females have a different capacity of intelligence?” and “Which gender do you feel is the cause of sexism?” “The survey was not constructed to be informative, but rather to identify a general opinion [among undergraduate students] to decide if corrective action by the department and/or the MSPS was necessary,” MSPS executives told The Daily by email. “It is for this reason that not all of the questions were formulated with extreme diligence.” The report presents “generalized conclusions” made by the MSPS about the survey, but not “rigorous statistical analysis” of those findings. This is another problem for Koh and Agbayani. “There is no presentation of the overall statistical findings, just selective presentations of what the MSPS deems, from their perspective, the most notable or ‘shareable’ results,” they told The Daily in an email. The report says that uniformly negative answers to the question “Has a sexual or gender directed comment led to a decrease in your self-confidence at school?” reveal that students’ academic self-confidence has not been impacted by “gender-related remarks.”
Sex Week at McGill February 11 to 15 Locations on campus The Shag Shop and SHAG Team are planning a series of speaker events, workshops, and a charity event night at Gert’s within the theme of sex. The aim of Sex Week is to raise awareness about sexual health issues and to promote sex-positivity. Each day has a loose ‘theme’ and you can pick and choose which events you want to attend. Check the Shag Shop’s Facebook page for more details.
Gendered Violence and Trans* Communities February 13 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. 1500 Maisonneuve West #404 This workshop will challenge your understanding of gender and shed light on some of the struggles faced by trans* people. We will discuss gender identities and expressions, terms, and definitions as well as the role of allies in creating a safer, more inclusive environment for all.
Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women March February 14 6:00 p.m. St. Laurent metro Justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (Missing Justice) is planning the fourth annual memorial march to honour the lives of missing and murdered Aboriginal women. The first memorial march was held in 1991 in response to the murder of a Coast Salish woman on Powell Street in Vancouver.
The McGill Daily Monday, February 11, 2013 mcgilldaily.com
My emotions will go on In defence of feelings Anqi Zhang The McGill Daily
hen I was seven, I wanted to be a lawyer. At the dinner table, I frequently engaged my father in social justice debates of the kind that only young children find useful to consider – like how we should all dedicate ourselves to world peace and eradicating hunger – before they become jaded about the realities of life. But every time, without fail, my argument would dissolve into an incoherent mess of babbling and tears as I became too frustrated with his assertions. My mother, sitting placidly by our sides, would take this opportunity, while my tears flowed and my brow furrowed in exasperation and self-righteous indignation, to tell me, by way of calming me, that to make my point persuasively, I should hold back my tears. After all, lawyers don’t cry. So it was, at the age of seven, that I first learned that only by suppressing my emotions could I make my opinions appear more believable, more valuable. Only by putting on a placid front, devoid of all passion, could I hope to convince others of my legitimacy. Now I am twenty, and studying neuroscience. There seems to be little continuity between my current self and the seven-year-old debate enthusiast of yesteryear, except this: I still live by the same emotional rule to which I was first introduced so many years ago. Perhaps it’s the training society has foisted upon me through various manifestations over my two decades telling me not to disturb those around me with my feelings, or perhaps it’s that I have simply learned on my own that I will be taken more seriously if I pretend I have not been swayed by emotions. Regardless of the reason, I have internalized the belief that to be rational is to be unemotional; but as an innately emotional individual, this creates strange contradictions. *** Lawyers aren’t the only group of people who aren’t allowed to cry. Boys don’t cry, says The Cure. Fergie extends this rule to big girls, too. Not crying is a signal of strength, of maturity; it’s as though dissolved in tears is a potent solution of weakness that, should you allow them to spill, will contaminate not only your person but also
your methods of thought, your arguments. Better to hold it in. We live in a society that is resolutely anti-emotional. A society in which it has become uncomfortable to see an acquaintance crying, and even more uncomfortable to address it. A society in which elation is treated with apprehension, and passionate anger with attempts to reinstate calm at all costs. Neither manic highs nor depressive lows are acceptable in most public arenas or social situations. If you are feeling low, stay home, fake an illness, don’t burden those around you. If you are feeling high, temper it, for the sake of others. It seems strange that we are so fearful of sharing our emotions and their impacts on those around us. After all, emotions exist in part to allow us a common medium of shared experience. The size of the amygdala, often referred to as the “seat of emotion” in the brain, has been correlated to the size of an individual’s social circles. The link is clear: more emotional capacity, more ability to relate to others. And human capacities like empathy, widely considered to be good for society, are reliant on activation of these same areas in response to emotion. Yet we internalize our feelings, bury them deep, ignore and refuse and erase their effect on our psyche and our reasoning. As though that is desirable. As though that is possible. *** In neuroscience, emotions are separate from feelings; whereas emotions are physical, and often unconsciously produced responses to stimuli, feelings are the subjective experiences that accompany them. Emotions are now understood to be a sort of rapid computation that takes a situation into account and produces a response – a faster version of how any other kind of thought is produced. Feelings are, in a way, how we understand our own emotions, these first computations. Even ignoring the individual negative implications of not expressing emotions, there is so much we lose on a societal level by denying them a place in our reasoning. A purely rational mind cannot understand the struggles of others, cannot advocate, cannot help. Social policy, however dry and procedural the making thereof, should not exist in a separate sphere from human emotions. Emotional connectivity is essential to allow those who are not marginalized to sympathize with
Illustration Isabelle Viarouge
and represent those who are. By suppressing the instinctive knowledge we derive from this level of connection, we rid a policy that is meant for humans, that will impact humans, of its humanity. The dichotomy between emotions and rationality is a false one; emotions are not antagonistic to logical thought, but instead bring a human dimension that logic alone lacks. We know that individuals possess varying degrees of ability to regulate their emotions, which can manifest in anything from depression to impulsive aggression and psychopathy; neurologically, emotions are a good and necessary thing to have. In light of this, it seems misguided that we would reject such an integrally human element from emerging or being
expressed in a human society. *** Emotions do not always lead us in the right direction, as individuals or as a society. But to ignore them is to deny their power and their purpose – that of allowing us to relate to one another, and ourselves, and the world around us. That primal, visceral, animal emotion is an important element of our humanity, honed and preserved through evolution, precisely because it allows us to feel, and to understand what we feel. A world in which we deny the necessity of feeling before deconstructing and rationalizing, is a world in which we deny our humanity and the ways in which we relate to each other as individu-
als and as parts of a social whole. But the war on emotion is not one waged by some unseen force; it’s one fought by each and every one of us, every time we quickly swipe away the tears blooming at the corners of our eyes at the end of a painful documentary, every time we will ourselves to be strong, and calm, and reasonable, every time we tell ourselves that what we feel is irrational. If I was staunchly on the side of the unsentimentalists before – and to some extent, I was – today is the day I defect. Anqi Zhang is a U3 Neuroscience student and the Science+Technology editor at The Daily. She is unabashedly emotional. Talk to her about your feelings at anqi.zhang@mail. mcgill.ca.
The McGill Daily | Monday, February 11, 2013 | mcgilldaily.com
Headdresses and cultural hijacking Racism at Igloofest Eliyahu Freedman Commentary Writer
went to Igloofest, the outdoor music festival held in the Old Port on Thursday, January 31, to let loose and dance the night away after an exhausting few days of school. I chose Thursday deliberately, anticipating for weeks the set put on by A Tribe Called Red (ATCR), a group of DJs who identify as “Native American” on their website and describe their music as “Pow Wow Step.” Now, I am no electronic music expert, but I know that I like their sound, which is a really interesting blend of electronic, dubstep, and traditional pow wow music. ATCR also make a point to use their public persona to make a social commentary about the commonly held racist stereotypes about Native Americans, and to “reclaim, repurpose and reuse” racist images such as the Cleveland Indians logo. You can imagine my surprise and horror when I walked into the show only to be greeted by dozens of fans adorned in cheap “hipster headdresses” (the term coined by the invaluable website ‘Native Appropriations,’ which has extensive posts detailing and explaining why and how these practices are problematic and perpetuate racist and colonial relationships), red-face, and some doing their best to mimic the ‘savage cry’ made famous in Hollywood’s long tradition of white supremacist cinema. “Whoa, Eli, you have to say something to these people,” I think to myself. I try and stumble through the dance floor to the closest “hipster headdress” wearer, only to find the task of having a meaningful conversation unmanageable given the noise, crowd and, well, intoxicants. “Why even bother politicizing Igloofest?” I ask myself, before realizing that despite the dual stigmas attached to calling out acts of common racism, and being called a “racist,” it is profoundly the actions and atti-
Illustration Amina Batyreva | The McGill Daily
tudes which dehumanize others that are the problem, are political, and are what we ought to be primarily concerned with. Until there is a common realization that racist culture runs through us all there will be energy misguided into how and why I and others call out acts of racism, and not focused on the root causes of oppression itself. How is it possible that during the Idle No More social movement, commonly described as an “Indigenous rights revolution,” so many young Canadians could act so mindlessly in a racist fashion? It would be easy, but disingenuous, to pinpoint benign ignorance as the answer. Euro-American racism has never been accidental, but rather is a concept manufactured to serve the dominant interests of European empires in conquering vast portions of the world. It is a lot easier to justify the historical mass slaughter and genocide of Indigenous bod-
Don’t like your rights being trampled on? Neither does anyone!
ies, and the enslavement of African bodies, for example, by creating a racial caste system that is still more or less intact today. The histories of colonialism and racism in Canada are simply not taught to young people, nor is our current government truthful in respecting its most basic moral commitments to the rule of law, never mind substantive justice, by honouring treaty rights and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It would be inaccurate to put all the responsibility on the government, however, or on the perpetrators of acts of common racism: Canadian society benefits economically from the continued marginalization of Indigenous rights, the theft of Indigenous lands, and the dehumanization of Indigenous bodies forcibly controlled and defined by the state as “Indians.” That almost-identical racist incidents occurred at this year’s
4Floors party in the SSMU building only attests to the ways in which McGill is implicated in the same national myth of ‘discovery’. James McGill, our university’s benefactor and namesake, amassed great wealth in the late 19th century trading furs with Indigenous populations, often trekking great distances and surviving the winter by depending on the hospitality and knowledge of Indigenous peoples. In spite of this interdependence, Indigenous peoples and their ways of being have often been seen by Europeans as inferior to ‘civilization,’ and doomed to fade away with time. Is it any surprise that McGill’s gift of a great university to his adopted city of Montreal never conceived of Indigenous peoples as its beneficiaries, and still devotes little to no resources to programs or research which challenge the colonial status quo? A Tribe Called Red are a per-
fect testament to the sometimesbeautiful ways in which cultures interact, even under exploitative conditions. The diverse cultures of Indigenous peoples have never remained static as racist caricatures and Hollywood suggest, but have evolved with time, like all other peoples on earth. And despite the best efforts of Canadian governments up until the present to codify cultural genocide, the people most affected have risen up. Now it is time for the rest of us who are not ruled by the paternalistic “Indian Act” to accept our role in benefitting from centuries of ongoing domination and choose what kind of future society we want to live in. I only wish I could live long enough to see what is possible when we can party in coexistence. Eliyahu Freedman is a U3 Philosophy student. He can be reached at email@example.com.
In addition to the two (how generous!) consultation meetings scheduled by the admin, The Daily invites all students, staff, and faculty to send their thoughts on the new protest protocol to letters@ mcgilldaily.com for an upcoming spread on the protocol.
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The avian flu controversy Assessing the risks and benefits of studying H5N1 Caitlin Mouri Science+Technology Writer
n January 23, news broke that researchers working with the deadly avian flu virus had lifted their self-imposed moratorium. Forty scientists signed a letter, published in both Nature and Science, announcing resumption of work that would determine the genetic mutation necessary to permit the virus to transmit between humans. “Because the risk exists in nature that an H5N1 virus capable of transmission in mammals may emerge,” the authors wrote, “the benefits of this work outweigh the risks.” As of February 1, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported 615 human cases of H5N1 worldwide. Of those infected, 364 died. The virus does not pass easily between humans, but the death rate has raised fears within the scientific and medical community that if it were to become easily transmissable, avian flu could spark a global pandemic worse than the 1918 Spanish flu. In late 2011, the furor over avian flu took a turn. Two studies, one led by Dr. Ron Fouchier of Erasmus Medical Centre in the Netherlands, and another lead by Dr. Yoshihiro Kawaoka at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, reported lab-made variants of H5N1 that were readily transmissible in mammals. The U.S. government flagged the work as “dual use,” signifying that the findings could be used not only for academic progress, but also for the more sinister purpose of developing bioterrorist weapons. The public went into uproar, with some arguing that the research should never have been done. In the midst of the controversy surrounding this label, Fouchier, Kawaoka, and 37 other scientists announced a voluntary moratorium on H5N1 research. “We recognize that we and the rest of the scientific community need to clearly explain the benefits of this important research and the measures taken to minimize its possible risks,” they wrote last January. A year later, the scientists declared that the goals of the moratorium had been met, citing policy reviews conducted in Canada, the Netherlands, and the U.S., as well as technical consultations hosted by WHO and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. These consultations were carried out largely by scientists in conjunction with government representatives, with the aim of alleviating public fears. Whether their goal to increase
public support was successful is debatable; the decision to continue the research was met with controversy. Proponents of the work fear that without continued study, an H5N1 pandemic could catch us unprepared. Detractors fear that developing mutant strains with added capabilities could actually increase the risk of a pandemic, should the new virus escape. For some, these worries are exaggerated. “The chances of one of these viruses coming out of these labs is relatively unlikely,” Dr. Brian Ward, associate professor at McGill’s Centre for the Study of Host Resistance, told The Daily. To minimize the risk, WHO recommends enhanced biosafety level 3 (BSL-3+) in labs working with the virus. In Canada, only labs with biosafety level 4 (BSL-4), which include air locked entries and shower exits, are permitted to work with H5N1. Ward conceded that with “human nature being what it is, the more labs doing this, the more likely someone […] could have access to these things and release them intentionally.” But, as long as the number of labs doing this work is limited, the risk is minimal. “There are several labs that work with smallpox [for example], and we haven’t had any evil person releasing smallpox.” In fact, the last fatal case of smallpox, in 1978, was the result of an accidental leak from a research lab. After that, a research moratorium on wild-type smallpox was imposed. Every stock of the virus was destroyed or transferred to two BSL-4 labs: one in the United States and one in Russia. The final stocks were meant to be destroyed decades ago, but both the U.S and Russia demurred. In 2011, the international community agreed that the risks inherent in smallpox research outweighed the benefits and again called for the virus to be destroyed. Despite this pressure, these stocks remain. The history of smallpox makes the threat easy to assess. In the case of avian flu, we’re stuck with guesses and projections. The main fear is that, as the wild virus circulates, it could mutate into something catastrophic, as H1N1 did in the pandemic of 1918. To this day, scientists are unsure why the 1918 flu strain was so deadly. Researchers have no samples of the virus, and modern descendants are not nearly as virulent. This lack of knowledge makes it difficult to evaluate the chance of repeating history. “We don’t have anything to hang our hats on,” Dr. Dalius Briedis, associate professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology,
Illustration Julia Boshyk | The McGill Daily
pointed out to The Daily. “In the past 100 years or so, this has only happened once. It’s one of these low probability, high risk events.” The possibility of H5N1 becoming transmissible outside the lab is certainly real. Each of the mutations that Fouchier identified in his lab-made strains already exists in nature. If viruses with key mutations were to recombine, the result would be a human transmissible virus. “If you say this is only a 1 in a billion chance,” Ward said, “well, you have a billion birds and a few billion pigs and seven billion people, so statistically the chances are not bad.” On the other hand, it’s possible that a transmissible strain may not be as deadly. Fouchier’s mutant virus was lethal in ferrets, but only
when it was passed from ferret to ferret via syringe. When the contagion was passed through airborne droplets, it wasn’t lethal. So the question remains, does the risk of a natural pandemic outweigh the risk of a man-made one? The debate left the scientific community divided. After a year of consultations and debates, a full consensus still hasn’t been reached. Ward noted, however, that, “in the end, the split wasn’t 50/50. The large majority of the world’s scientists fall on the side of the line where releasing this [research] is not a bad thing.” Briedis, for one, remains unconvinced. “I do not think that it’s wise research to do,” he said. “I personally would not have gotten involved in doing it, and I would have attempt-
ed to sway people from doing it.” But, he added, “the academic ambitions of individual researchers are not to be underestimated. If there’s something interesting to be done, generally someone somewhere will end up doing it.” As biotechnology moves forward, we may see more and more cases like this. The consultation process has clearly set a precedent for how scientists deal with controversy in the public eye. But one questions the effectiveness of such an insular decision process in gaining public trust. While the attempts to address public fears are a step in the right direction, lingering fears about the release of a supervirus suggest that more transparency is needed.
The McGill Daily | Monday, February 11, 2013 | mcgilldaily.com
Measuring science in Nobels Are prizes or policy causing pharmaceutical job losses? Jassi Pannu Science+Technology Writer
lfred Nobel’s will, signed in 1895, established the Nobel Prizes in order to honour those who “have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind.” They are now the world’s most famous awards in their respective fields, particularly in science. Those who win a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine are often catapulted from complete obscurity to international acclaim. With this in mind, one might be disappointed to note that scientists at Canadian universities have won only one Nobel Prize in medicine. Frederick Banting and John Macleod won the award in 1923 for their discovery of insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas that is crucial for sugar metabolism. Compare this to Harvard Medical School, which lays claim to eight, and Rockefeller University, with fifteen, and it seems positively paltry. That isn’t to say that Canadians haven’t been earning Nobel Prizes in medicine – Ralph Steinman, a 2011 laureate, was a Canadian-born McGill graduate. Rather, there have been no prizes for research conducted at Canadian labs or universities. Based on these statistics, some have started to fret about the state of scientific research in Canada. Nobel Prizes are noteworthy, no doubt – but they are a poor measure of overall research excellence. Attaching so much significance to their count often means biasing research endeavours toward discovery research, where the motivation is to be the first to publish. Researchers that aim to verify and reproduce results will never be candidates for Nobel Prizes, despite the equally crucial nature of their work. Reducing the contributions of Canadian scientists to a number of top-level awards won completely overlooks the value and impact of the vast array of scientific research. Furthermore, the competition for these awards is intense. They are given once a year, for a single discovery in a broad discipline. The Nobel Prize is a childhood dream
Illustration Akanksa Chaubal | The McGill Daily
for any researcher, and for most, it will remain just that. Science is collaborative, awards are not; team members are often excluded, or recognized disproportionately less. But for some, the value of Nobel Prizes may lie in more than just pride. Professor John Bergeron of the McGill Faculty of Medicine linked the lack of Nobel Prizes in medicine to the recent closure of the Merck, BoehringerIngelheim, and AstraZeneca pharmaceutical research labs in Montreal. The shutdown of these big labs, all within the past three years, led to the loss of hundreds of pharmaceutical industry jobs in the Montreal area, as well as “no pharma-based pre-clinical research in all of Canada,” according to Bergeron.
“Nobel Prizes in medicine are an unquestioned indication of research excellence,” said Dr. Bergeron in an interview with The Daily. He makes the argument that the moves were in large part motivated by the desire to relocate labs to Nobel magnet cities like Boston. Bergeron is likely correct in saying that big pharma is drawn to ground-breaking research that may yield new business opportunities. But the assumption that Nobel Prizes are somehow an accurate barometer of the current research climate couldn’t be further from the truth. The fact that the awards are usually given some ten, twenty, or thirty-odd years after the initial discovery was made means that they function more as a
congratulatory afterthought than as a driver of innovation. Pinning the future of Canada’s pharmaceutical industry to the number of awards ignores pressing policy issues that are driving business out of Quebec – but not out of Canada as a whole. Bergeron concedes that “Montreal was the Canadian headquarters for all preclinical research by big pharma. Now they have all left.” During the same two-year period, multinational pharmaceutical companies have announced millions of dollars of investment next door in Ontario. Sanofi Pasteur, a French company, plans to build a $101 million vaccine research and development facility in Toronto. Novartis, a Swiss company,
and Teva, out of Israel, also plan to expand their presence in Ontario. It seems likely that the political atmosphere is more to blame for the exodus of the pharmaceutical industry from Quebec. Even Nobel Prizes do not have the power to attract business in the face of unfriendly policy. Bergeron points out that Canadian scientists suffer not from “a lack of training or expertise but solely because of a lack of opportunity.” Ambitious young researchers who graduate from McGill are forced to travel elsewhere to make their careers. Perhaps the immediate goal should be bringing back the jobs; from there, the Nobel Prizes will follow.
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Illustration Siobhan Lazenby
Is it okay to keep watching sports? The perils of fanhood Evan Dent The McGill Daily
arly in last year’s hockey season, I watched in horror as Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic bulldozed Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller as he skated out of the goal-area to pass the puck. Miller stayed in the game, but was later diagnosed with a concussion, keeping him out for weeks. During the off-season, the Sabres decided to toughen up their team so that an incident like the Lucic hit would never happen again, signing forward John Scott, a 6’8’’ player known only for his prowess in fighting. As a Sabres fan, I looked to this year’s Bruins-Sabres matchup with excitement. I wanted revenge for the hit. I watched with glee as Scott took on one of the Bruins’ fighters, Shawn Thornton. Scott had quite the size advantage – about seven inches taller, and fifty pounds heavier – and dispatched Thornton with ease. I happily watched as Scott landed punch after punch. Thornton fell to the ground, losing an edge on his skate. He never returned to the game after woozily entering the locker room. It was revealed afterwards that he had suffered a concussion from the fight. But I was, before that news, happy about the fight. I loved it. Here’s the rub. I love sports, but hate how they’re played, how some leagues try to deny the danger of their sport. It’s a medical fact that studies have proven over and over again:
concussions suffered by athletes have long-term, debilitating effects. The two sports I happen to like the most, football and hockey, are also two of the most physically violent. For years, these games have been built on violence – hitting is key to each game. And for years, people ignored the toll that these hits took on the athletes, and the fact that after retirement, many players struggle with physical limitations and, sometimes, mental ailments. There are former football players who now can’t even play with their kids because their bodies are so ravaged by their time playing professionally. Even scarier is the rash of depression and suicide among former hockey and football players after their retirement. Now we know a lot more about the dangers of playing these sports. And I find the leagues’ – the National Hockey League (NHL) and the National Football League (NFL) – behavior morally repugnant. And yet I continue to watch. *** The NHL and NFL have both taken stances on the issue of player safety analogous to that of cigarette companies toward lung cancer. Both have somewhat acknowledged the problem and are working on their own ‘research’ to best determine their courses of action. Both have touted their commitment to “player safety,” which, while well-intentioned, falls far short of what is actually needed. The punishment is inconsistent – hits on star players are almost
always punished, while hits on less important players are basically hung out to dry. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told ESPN radio that “any sport has a risk of injury,” while denying that the sport caused long-term damage to the players’ health – he couldn’t say for sure since there was more research to be done. This was mere weeks after, to point out one example, New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley was brutally hit struck a helmet to helmet hit, his body crumpling to the ground, his arms going stiff and remaining outstretched in what is commonly known as the ‘fencing response’ – a clear indicator of a serious head injury. Since Ridley ducked his head before taking the hit, no punishment was given out to the defensive player. The ball came loose on the hit, and a Ravens player fell on it as Ridley lay motionless. I remember watching that exact play, and thinking to myself: “Wow. That’s horrible.” And then, I regret to say, I thought: “He fumbled. This changes the game.” It’s not that I didn’t care, but the action in the game had nearly as much importance to me as someone’s health and safety. It’s just that how I grew up – watching sports since as early as I can remember, literally learning to read with the Chicago Tribune’s sports section – has made me care this much about sports. I see a dangerous hit, am momentarily concerned, and then it’s back to the game. Maybe I’m distracting myself from the horrors of the game, or maybe the games mean
more to me, on a deeper level. Something about the big hits and the fights, despite knowing that they’re dangerous, viscerally excites me. I can sit back and say that a hit by a player on my favorite team was dirty, but, for at least a split second, it excites me. This is the primacy of my fanhood – my love for some imaginary entity (my team) – supersedes my moral qualms. The person I become when I watch sports is not a person I like; I am an angry, swearing, yelling tornado when losing, or a dumbly complacent, glazed-over grinner when winning. Either way, the players (usually on the other team) come second to my own personal pleasure. Am I complicit in the moral repugnancy of the NFL and NHL? For all the times I point out that that their “player safety” policies are misguided and meant more for the benefit of public relations than as actual, effective policy, I still watch all the games I can, I still buy the merchandise, I still openly support the teams. In essence, I am telling the leagues, on a purely economic level, that I support what they are doing, even when, morally, I don’t. Other people attempt to reconcile this by saying that the players know exactly what they’re getting into, while in fact, in the case of many athletes, the lure of money and fame make these risks seem palatable. But that doesn’t mean these leagues should continue to blithely regard their players as expendable products that break down and replace themselves over time. The players
need care. The fact that they’re not getting it from their leagues, though, has not stopped me from watching. It’s easy to blame the league, but, in the end, I still haven’t found the moral resolve to stop caring. *** I remember, in 2007, watching my beloved Buffalo Bills home opener. On a kickoff, tight end Kevin Everett attempted a hit on the kick returner and fell to the ground. He didn’t move again; his neck and spine were seriously injured. This was in 2007, before the current wave of concern of player safety, but, even from my own 14-year-old perspective, I could see it was bad. He was taken off the field in an ambulance and rushed to intensive care, where a miraculous surgery saved his life. The game felt odd to me after that, but I still watched. Everett’s status was more important than the game, as it should be, and should always be. It took a player’s near death to stop me from processing a game normally, and, even then, my father and I couldn’t turn off the game. Most players, when concussed, eventually manage to stand up and get themselves off the field or rink. But seeing them still walking, still somehow functioning, has been enough for me for too long. My constant fandom scares me. How bad does it have to get for me to stop? Sports have a power over me I can’t really explain, one with ecstatic highs and, upon reflection, dark lows.
The McGill Daily Monday, February 11, 2013 mcgilldaily.com
Photo courtesy of Rake&Co.
The Rake’s progress? Rake&Co. offers commercialized version of Montreal culture Charles Larose-Jodoin Culture Writer
ake&Co. is a bilingual Montreal magazine, inspired by what Christina Brown, editor-in-chief, calls the “cultural, commercial, and social goings-on” of the city. The first edition was released two weeks ago, and features new and independent boutiques, artists such as local poet Jonah Campbell, new restaurants, odd hangouts, and questionable human interest stories such as the phenomenon of bilingual couples in Montreal. Printed on thick matte paper, the reader of Rake&Co. is treated to nearly 120 pages of great photography and rather uninformative writing. To their credit, Rake&Co. does feature interesting documentaries, accessible through a mobile site, that provide a muchneeded supplement to the text. Rake&Co. originally started off as the agency blog for the staff of CloudRaker, a digital marketing agency established in 2000. Over time, the blog evolved into an online magazine. The online magazine originally served as a low-risk testing ground for the CloudRaker employees to experiment with new media and hone their ‘creative’ skills in filmmaking, editing, pho-
tography, and storytelling. The magazine puts forward what Brown calls “a new world order of consumption.” It does this by focusing on independent stores and third wave cafes that are not geared toward the mass consumption of characterless goods. The stores featured in the magazine include a diner with a bowling alley called Notre Dame des Quilles, tiny clothing boutiques with rare merchandise and organic cotton shirts, and a furniture shop with re-purposed goods and food offerings. The magazine’s business model is conspicuously experimental. The ‘Rakers’ aim to find new ways of brand sponsorship that will allow them to survive – magazines need revenue from advertisements – but that will also keep the magazine ad-free. The result is a new form of publication that is a “hybrid between a nice photo album/book and a magazine.” Ultimately, the people at Rake&Co. want to create a keepsake, something that you can display on your coffee table for a long time. Although the magazine is meant to be an “archive of Montreal today” seen through the “professionally creative” eyes of the Rake&Co. team, it would be better off claiming to be an archive of the city’s Plateau, Mile End, St. Henri, and Griffintown
neighbourhoods. It rarely ventures beyond these districts into the less “creative” areas. This is due to the fact that Rake&Co. “is a private project” that has “no lofty ambition to contribute to the discourse of the city at all.” That means that they pick their stories according to their interests and what they deem important to include, which reflects the social and economic profile of the writers more than it represents an ‘archive’ of Montreal as a whole. Rake&Co.’s target audience is “a younger creative community interested in what is new and upcoming in the city.” This doesn’t mean that the less-young community won’t enjoy it as well, for Rake&Co. “seems to be resonating with all people interested in what’s coming up in the creative community.” However, it would be quite a stretch to claim that this magazine is for everyone. This is natural, Brown claims, as it is hard to cater to everybody’s needs and still be coherent. As she so charmingly put it, “are we looking to find deals for McGill students? Maybe not. It’s not about finding the cheap sandwich. This is really about looking at our city through our eyes.” Perhaps a little diversity in the people that Rake&Co. interests itself with would provide a more interesting publication. Even though the magazine aims
at nailing down a cohesive portrait of the city, it makes no mention of musical events or venues, theatre performances, or the visual arts scene. Instead, it places strong emphasis on the commercial goingson of the city, such as new restaurants and boutiques. In defence of the magazine, Brown claims that “it was our first edition, and we all completely agree that certainly the music scene is something lacking. In fact, we had a story [about local music] we wanted to include, but instead opted to hit the press quicker, just to get the magazine out there.” This doesn’t mean that future issues of Rake&Co. will always have a dossier on food or music; “it’s really going to be what interests us at the time, for we don’t want to restrict ourselves into having to hit each category [...] to be a viable and complete read,” Brown explained. The greatest disappointment of Rake&Co. is the poor quality of the words that accompany the photos. The text is at worst, irrelevant, and at best, superficial. For instance, the PHI Centre is heralded as a “gamechanging addition to the Montreal arts scene,” yet in the scanty three paragraphs devoted to describing it, only one makes a lame stab at explaining why it might be a “game changer,” while the other two discuss the centre’s restaurant, and
the ecological certification of the building. Perhaps I missed the entire point of the coverage, but I was certainly left clueless as to what the significance was of PHI to the Montreal arts scene. At least Rake&Co.is conscious of this issue: Brown says that they sacrificed the quality and depth of the analysis in order to quickly “nail a cohesive portrait of the city right then in that moment. For the next issue, we want to go deeper in the writing.” Even Rake&Co.’s supposed up-tothe-minute-ness is suspect, however, as most of their photos have a conspicuous lack of snow, implying they might have been taken several months ago. So, should we all go out and buy a copy of Rake&Co.? I would recommend checking out their website to look at their well-executed photographs and watch their short documentaries, the latter of which are unfortunately only available on your smartphone. You may be less inclined to spend $20 on a magazine filled with pictures of districts and people that all end up looking as if they shop at the same stores and live in the same neighbourhoods, even though they go to independent boutiques and live in elegant apartments. Perhaps the second issue will provide a more holistic look at Montreal culture.
The McGill Daily | Monday, February 11, 2013 | mcgilldaily.com
Tremblay’s transvestite TNC’s Hosanna’s minimalist existentialism Nathalie O’Neill The McGill Daily
et in early 1970s Montreal, Michel Tremblay’s Hosanna explores issues of identity and self-definition through the eyes of self-identified transvestite Hosanna, and her boyfriend Cuirette. Hosanna is confused – “I’m neither a man nor a woman,” she says – and Cuirette see-saws from supportive to exasperated. Director Scott Leydon’s production at Tuesday Night Café (TNC) is an expansive depiction of gay/trans* experience, forgoing a narrow introspective focus and tackling complicated issues both personal and interpersonal, examining the ways in which the individual and their surroundings influence one another. Hosanna’s existentialism explores many axes, looking at gender and sexuality as well as the difficulties of aging, dealing with unemployment, and mending strained family ties. Leydon’s production, solidly minimalist and supported by the cast’s assurance and measured delivery, successfully depicts the relations between authenticity and performance. The play unfolds late at night in Hosanna’s apartment. Hosanna, costumed as Elizabeth Taylor and fresh from social humiliation, returns from a rival drag queen’s Halloween party. Cuirette arrives shortly afterward, joining her in a long and often quarrelsome discussion, occasionally broken up by his own tangential rants. Hosanna takes centre stage for most of the second act, straddling a chair, emulating this physical barrier between her and the audience by recounting a detailed version of her success at the party – which turns out to be a deceitful fantasy – before backtracking and telling the audience how the evening actually unfolded. Leydon first read Tremblay’s work last year on a friend’s recommendation. Involved with Players’ Theatre as well as the student strike, Leydon saw the potential of putting on Tremblay at McGill. “I thought it’d be great to do this at McGill,” says Leydon, “to bring awareness to Quebec history.” While Leydon attaches a significant level of importance to the historical roots of the play, the questions of identity that Hosanna explores fit nicely into the realm of contemporary selfquestioning. “I know what I want in the theatre,” Tremblay once said. “I want a real political theatre, but I know that political theatre is dull. I write fables.” The authentic (hidden) body and the way we dress it for performance was an apt political metaphor for
Photo Ahmad Hassan | The McGill Daily
Tremblay, but does not come across as clearly in Leydon’s production. “When the blinking pharmacy sign [outside the window] goes out,” explains Leydon, “Hosanna is no longer rooted in her physical location in a Montreal slum, and is then able to escape into fantasy.” Leydon sees the historical setting as a pillar of his production, but it is only rarely highlighted with certain elements such as the blinking light. For the most part, action is isolated to Hosanna’s breach-free apartment, giving it a timeless quality. The phone rings a few times in the first act, but we never hear the caller’s voice. Cuirette talks about their taxi driver, but we never see or hear him. Reality is flipped upside down within the world of the play: existential musings are mostly tangible, while the outside world remains blurry. Daniel Carter is a natural as
Hosanna: his performance depicts the gradual surfacing of Hosanna’s layers. Hosanna swings from man to woman, often finding herself somewhere in between. Although his direct interpellations and eye contact with the crowd tend to diminish the overall effect of solitary anguish, Carter, for the most part, navigates the intricacies of his role seamlessly, even managing to shed real tears. Cameron Oram, in the role of pot-bellied biker boyfriend Cuirette, is initially a backdrop to Hosanna’s struggle, but manages to build up a certain intensity as his frustrations increasingly parallel and overlap those of Hosanna. The cast’s acting ability is a pillar for the success of Tremblay’s meta approach. Leydon shows us performers performing, reminding us that we are constantly playing a role in our own lives.
Fleshing out the unadorned script, TNC’s set adds a lushness to the play, anchoring the characters’ theoretical explorations. Rather than choosing to use a relatively bare stage, the threedimensionality of Hosanna’s world makes her reflections more tangible as everyday trans* challenges. While Hosanna explores somewhat abstract dichotomies of fantasy/reality and authenticity/ performance, Leydon manages to keep audiences engaged with a quotidian tinge. Hosanna’s party flop is only a single event in her ongoing identity crisis; her intense self-questioning in turn brings her back to hopelessly dwelling on this single event. The imperfections in Leydon’s production are quickly forgotten in light of the bigger picture. The bunched-up seams in Hosanna’s costumes remind us that she is
wearing multiple layers, and that these layers aren’t completely opaque. The actors stumble at times – a few lines were stuttered, a shoe strap broke, and pins fell off Oram’s jacket – but these flaws only strengthened the metaphor of theatre as imperfect reflection of real life. Hosanna leaves many of the questions it raises unanswered – but the point is that there are no definite and universal answers. Our daily struggles are manifestations of the abstract and esoteric questions we ask ourselves about what is real and what is performance. Leydon’s production successfully communicates these links by attaching them to a personal experience. Hosanna will be playing February 13 to 16 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $6 for students and seniors, and $10 for general admission.
The McGill Daily | Monday, February 11, 2013 | mcgilldaily.com
Wendy’s world An interview with Walter Kaheró:ton Scott
endy is the very human and very funny tale of a young art school graduate involved in the Montreal art scene and its various excesses. Wendy’s author, 27-year-old Walter Kaheró:ton Scott, grew up in Kahnawake. He is currently doing a residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts. The Daily interviewed Scott via email.
The McGill Daily (MD): How did Wendy begin her life, and what is her relationship to your own life and career? To my understanding, her exploits are to some degree informed by your own experiences. Walter Kaheró:ton Scott (WS): Wendy was born on a diner placemat in the bad part of town on a hungover afternoon. I was living in St. Henri at the time (2011), and had spent all hours of the night before partying. The next day, my friend and I were sitting at the diner and I drew an avatar of myself, but female, barfing into a toilet. I made a few more doodles and immediately went home and photoshopped it into a loose little five-panel comic jpeg. My friends really liked it on Facebook so I decided to make a few more. Eventually Audrey Cantwell, a fashion designer based in St. Henri, asked me to put together a several-page Wendy adventure for her zine, Tarantula Sisters. I made one, and then another, and pretty soon, Wendy went from a one-liner to a complex character, living a narrative in her own Wendyverse. Her adventures at the time were a direct reflection of my Montreal lifestyle experiences; the trials and tribulations at loft parties, art shows, and more private locales, like in the throes of displaced passion in the arms of someone who doesn’t even really like you that much, or is too stoned to function. MD: Readers at McGill are perhaps not familiar with what the Montreal art scene is like, or what life as an art school graduate is like. How would you describe the lifestyle? WS: My experience as an art school post-grad was (and is) similar to living like a raccoon standing on two feet. After being entrenched in an institution that vaguely perpetuated my own blissful amnesia about a future of art-stardom and success, it hit hard to find myself a year after graduating, designing funky slogans for chihuaha-sized hoodies. Furthermore, Montreal’s underground arts scene is heavily music/performance infused, and these immersive experiences are where I found myself getting into a lot of trouble. Lack of steady
employment and a party happening every weekend is a pretty standard experience for a lot of artists in Montreal. MD: Wendy seems like a reaction to the Montreal art scene. How would you describe the response? (Has anyone been offended, or made a big deal of not getting the joke?) WS: I heard a criticism that I was abusing my privilege as a male in writing a vulnerable female character, but I think that might be a kind of political correctness that attempts to squelch any dialogue about a shared human experience. It’s also a coercion into a strict one-sided dialogue about authorship (not taking into consideration, for instance, my gay and Aboriginal identity), and in that way is another form of dogma. Wendy’s problems have been described to me as “everyone’s problems,” and I take great joy in weaving in the experiences of the different people in my life into a story with characters who act as avatars of these real people in my life, sometimes several people at once. MD: Despite not representing the most admirable qualities that you might hope a young aspiring artist might have, I think it is clear that you like Wendy, and the reader certainly grows to like her too. Does Wendy represent a hope of redemption for struggling young artists? WS: In retrospect, Wendy was created as a type of coping mechanism for me during a very dark time in my life. There is catharsis there, for me personally, and from the positive feedback I’ve received from others. It would seem she serves as a reflection for others too. I actually admire Wendy’s bad qualities too, because in naivete and confusion, there is a vulnerability; a desire to explore and learn. MD: Wendy is now online, or at least some Wendy comics are now online. How do you feel about using the internet as a way of distributing art, or more specifically comics, now that webcomics seem to have become an established thing? WS: I like selling the Wendy books as art objects. I sign my name in each of them, so the edition is based on my mark-making rather than a number. I have an Etsy store for these books, and I am currently interested in the notion of an art object as a commodity, and the conceptual confusion between an ‘art practice’ and ‘running a small business.’ I also enjoy making Wendy comics for online and printed magazines, because there is an opportunity
Courtesy of Walter Scott
there to reflect on the medium the comic is being presented in. In that way, it works as a comic but also as a project that is selfreflective of its shape-shifting manifestations as a commodity, an object, a feature, or whatever else. I’m thinking of making totebags in the future. MD: How do you feel Wendy fits into your wider body of work as an artist? WS: I like to work with concepts and materials about shapeshifting, camouflage, disguises, passageways, access, and transformation, and so I’m pretty sure that Wendy is a personality I have created to access my environment in a way that is not immediately informed by my own
obvious identity. So I guess she is another personality of mine, a kind of drag performance. MD: Did you ever plan to be a cartoonist? Is Wendy your first comic? WS: I was drawing cartoons my whole life up until about twenty, when I decided to take a break to drink beer and be popular. I guess my innate desire to communicate in this way came right back when I needed it most. The Wendy project has been a way to learn that language again. MD: According to you, what is an example of exciting art being done in Montreal right now? WS: Julien Ceccaldi’s comics. MD: Given the success of Wendy, do you think your future as an artist looks more Wendy-
shaped or comics oriented? WS: I have a few different things on the go right now. I’m working on some sculptural installation for a group show in Vancouver this year, and I’m curious to see how my comic-based practice will inform my other work. I like working in several different mediums at once, including comics, so it’ll be interesting to see how they will inform and enrich each other in the future. I guess I just have to keep making work to find out. — Compiled by Daniel Woodhouse
Wendy can be found online at: www.wendycore.tumblr.com.
volume 102 number 32
Stop making excuses and give us a student-run cafe!
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SSMU’s Summit on Space in the Shatner Building began on February 1, following an announcement that Travel Cuts/Voyages Campus will leave its current location. This kicks off six weeks of consultation – a historically empty process – on what should be done with the newly open space. According to many on campus, the answer is simple: this is the perfect opportunity to bring a student-run cafe back to McGill. The popular student-run Architecture Café was closed by the administration in 2010, inciting campus-wide anger. Though its management was originally told that the cafe could remain open for as long as it continued to break even, higher-ups eventually shut it down due to “financial instability.” But as Carly Roualt, the senior manager of the Arch Café, told The Daily at the time, no hard proof of this instability was ever cited. Closing the cafe was an unpopular move, as evidenced by the hundreds-strong protests that soon erupted outside Leacock. Since the Arch Café’s closure, there have been several attempts to bring back a studentrun cafe, but none as significant as Shyam
Patel’s (SSMU VP Finance and Operations 20112012) two-year initiative. Yet the knowledge that SSMU will have to start paying for some of the Shatner building’s utilities next year, on top of an already outrageously expensive rent, has this year’s executive saying it can’t be done. Instead of using lease negotiations as an excuse for their inaction, SSMU should instead be advocating for students’ interests. SSMU executives have suggested a room with couches and tables for studying, but we already have plenty of lounges on campus. A student-run café in the SSMU building – ostensibly student-run, yet filled with corporate spaces – would provide students with cheaper food and more opportunities for employment than the current corporate tenants do, but also something intangible and far more valuable. Student-run spaces are venues for everything from critical discussions to teach-ins. A vacancy this large in Shatner is a rare opportunity, and we can’t let it slip away.
— The McGill Daily Editorial Board
cover design Amina Batyreva and Hera Chan contributors Julia Boshyk, Akanksa Chaubal, Ahmad Hassan, Carlyn Hopkins, Eliyahu Freedman, Alex Kasstan, Lindsey Kendrick-Koch, Molly Korab, Charles Larose-Jodoin, Siobhan Lazenby, Esther Lee, Davide Mastracci, Caitlin Mouri, Shane Murphy, Nathalie O’Neill, Jassi Pannu, Margie Ramos, Robert Smith, Isabelle Viarouge, Daniel Woodhouse, Dana Wray
Errata In the February 7 issue, page 12, the article “Bad investments, good investments” incorrectly stated that Rohan Dutta was an associate professor in the Department of Economics at McGill. He is an assistant professor. The Daily regrets the error.
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The McGill Daily Monday, February 11, 2013 mcgilldaily.com
lies, half-truths, and EAVESDROPPING WITH TECHNOLOGY
Campus conversations Euan EK The Twice-a-Weekly
A discussion in the administration building, as imagined by faculty: Senior administrator: It was nice visiting the moon. Junior administrator: I imagine it was. I will need to wait for my guaranteed end-of-year bonus before I can go to the moon. I am bored of visiting New Zealand. Senior: I was also bored of New Zealand at your age. Once I was so bored in New Zealand I tipped a bag of money into a volcano in New Zealand. Junior: You must have been so bored. To get through the day I sometimes throw money out the window. But sometimes the wind isn’t fast enough, so it just accumulates on the ground. I don’t like seeing piles of money outside my windows because I see piles of money too much each day. I don’t know where to put this money. Academic administrator: The faculty are upset again. Junior: Shall I go and tear up the contracts? Senior: Yes. They never complain about that so it must be fair. Also, go and get more adjuncts from the pit. Academic: The pit is overflowing with adjuncts. How many shall I take? Senior: Take ten. We can put them back in the pit if they are bad adjuncts. Junior: Bad adjuncts? I thought all adjuncts had a natural respect of authority? Senior: Yes, in general most do. But some enjoy reading too much and then tell me about their reading. It makes me puke. Junior: Reading does not
make money, but faculty seem to think so. I think it is because they are all Marxists. Senior: I think so, too. Marxism has been proved wrong by facts. They should read the facts more. Academic: Some of the adjuncts at the bottom of the pit are suffocating. Senior: That it because they are at the bottom of the pit: they should try and climb to the top of the pit where there is air. That is the rational thing to do. Junior: Faculty are so irrational. I think it is all the money they make for doing reading. Senior: I hadn’t thought of that before. We should deny them tenure. All: Yes. Tenure is a job for life and that is stupid because Marxism was proven wrong by facts. A discussion in the faculty club lounge, as imagined by the administration: Assistant professor: Don’t you just love sitting and reading? Full Professor: Yes, I do. It is all I do in fact, which is nice. Assistant: How many books have you read? Full: All of them. Assistant: I, too, have read all of the books. Full: I enjoy leisurely re-reading all the books that have ever been written in my oak-panelled office while smoking my pipe. Assistant: If we didn’t have the time to leisurely re-read all the books then we wouldn’t be able to notice subtle variations or find ambiguous points that we can debate the meaning of for the next tax-year. Full: Exactly, that is why we need money: to write more books. Because we have read all the books that exist. We are providing
Illustration Amino Acid | The Twice-a-Weekly
the world with a very valuable service by writing more books. Assistant: But we must not write too fast. If we did that then the books would be read too fast, and then there would still be nothing left to read. Full: Yes. Assistant: That is why we also invent new words and terms: to fill up the new books. Full: Reusing old words is boring. Adjunct professor: It is fun sitting at the big table. Full: Another way of inventing new words is simply redefining old words. Did you know that ‘a public’ is a group of no more than 100 people gathered together to light fires? Assistant: No, I did not. Full: Yes, I defined the public as such in my latest academic paper. Writing that paper gave me a sense of well being and fulfillment and a deep satisfaction at having contributed to society’s knowledge.
Assistant: Yes, this job is satisfying but, more than that, seeing your name in an academic journal is why I started this job: publishing is what I live for. Full: I would publish for free, but I also like my wage because I use it to buy more vintage oak panelling. Assistant: I just oak-panelled my bathroom. Full: I just oak-panelled my leg. Adjunct: I am very young and just have fun being here. Being young I do not need to eat; the money the administration gives me allows me to buy extra popsicles for fun. Full: Well, I best go home now. It is the end of the working day. Assistant: Yes, 1 p.m. is time for tennis and golf. Full: But first we should finish this vintage single-malt whiskey and think about the way things are. Assistant: The way things are
is complex and requires thought. Adjunct: Thinking is fun. I think I can do it! Other professors: Shh booboo. Sleepytime for you. Adjunct: Yes, I must get a minimum of eleven hours sleep a day. Thankfully that is tolerated by the institution and society at large. Thinking happening Full: Well, that was a good session of thinking. Maybe we should write some of those thoughts down. Assistant: Tomorrow. First we need to go and be respected members of our community that are influential and regarded as sexually attractive because we combine brains with a good dress sense because we only buy designer clothes because everyone buys our books. Full: Yes. Also I need to oakpanel my windows.
Campus Crops celebrates record harvest Plans for a new franchise in the pipe Euan EK The Twice-a-Weekly
cGall’s urban gardening initiative Campus Crops is celebrating a record harvest after the McTavish reservoir flood on January 28. The plants had been dying because of drought. The group is now donating its excess food to McGall Food and Dining Services to subsidize the first year students’ food. The flood – which is being referred to as “God’s beauty” by Campus Crops – heavily nour-
ished the previously-parched earth in the garden be the McGall School of Environment (MSE). According to the group’s website, the water flow carried “many wholesome natural scientifics that plants need into the garden; the scientifics of nitrogen and biologican were particularly present.” Campus Crops said the flood meant their soil would not need improvement for “most of the rest [of time].” “The area had poor quality soil, lots of clay,” explained Darl Sion Tree, a member of Campus Crops.
“Over the years we have been improving the soil; we add compost twice a year, for example. When we closed in November, we added a lot of mulch. We have supplied the soil with a lot of organic matter.” The damage from the flood, however, was the final piece of the puzzle, adding valuable scientific nutrients to the topsoil. “A lot of time and money was saved in one night,” Tree explained. As a result, Campus Crops hopes to open a new garden in summer 2013, and are in discussion with lawyers over the possibility of opening a franchise. In
the past, the group was considered small. “Normally we have one garden and some student volunteers. But after the flood, and the bountiful harvest that followed, we really don’t know where to stop. We’ve given half our food away and we still have money flowing in from the people that are buying all our food. We’re not sure where the limit is but probably there isn’t one,” said Tree. The group is still in the process of organizing discussions on how to move forward, because the group’s executives have not
finished their week-long celebratory bender. “We need to discuss what we can do this summer, however I am very, very drunk and have eaten far too much foie gras. Farming makes you rich, that is the lesson I have learnt. Ultimately, I’m not sure if I can be bothered to franchise, because I have too much money. Do you want it?” Candidates interested in owning the Campus Crops (TM) trademark and developing the global franchise should email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published on Feb 13, 2013