Mount Royal University Summit Fall 2016

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Fall 2016

This story is just beginning.

Also in this issue:

Aces high — Canada’s Snowbirds | Moonshooters — Shaping orbits out of innovation | State of disaster

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The Path to Indigenization Reconciling with the past while charting a course for the future

Cover art by Dion Simon, Medicine Trail (Naato’ohsokoy) Program coordinator at Mount Royal Forming the shape of the territory encompassed by the Treaty 7 Nations, the weasel, beaver, eagle, bear and buffalo join together to represent all Indigenous, Inuit and Métis Peoples. The cougar in the centre signifies the Mount Royal community.


Letter from the president

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Bleed blue: events, highlights from campus and a special find



Chosen from a field of more than 90,000 graduates, the 2016 winners represent the outstanding character and community spirit Mount Royal encourages all students to uphold



It’s true, people hate poetry. But why?

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Alumni Q+A



Facing risk at 700 km/h with members of Canada’s Snowbirds



Alberta is now the national capital of natural disasters, and Mount Royal knows how to respond



Shaping orbits out of innovation, these entrepreneurs aren’t afraid to take giant leaps



Communication grads use camera skills to deliver the stuff people really want to see




Oki Tansi Ãba wathtech Danit’ada Above are the traditional greetings of the Blackfoot, Cree, Stoney and Tsuut’ina cultures

I work on the traditional lands of the Niitsitapi. Just steps away from the foothills and with a view towards the Rocky Mountains, it’s not hard to imagine centuries back when Indigenous Peoples exclusively lived on this land. Many societal wrongs have happened since then. The Calls to Action in the 2015 report from Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission are clear. And there is a strong mandate for post-secondary institutions, such as Mount Royal University, to take on a leadership role in reconciling with and learning from Indigenous Peoples. It is a role we take on with gratitude, because it is the right thing to do. And it starts with the belief Indigenous Peoples have the right to meaningful access to quality post-secondary education. Mount Royal’s goal is that 10 years from now 7 per cent of our overall student population will be Indigenous students, reflecting Alberta’s demographics. We are currently just over 4 per cent, higher than the average for all Canadian universities, but lower than comparable universities. With an earnest desire to advance our efforts more quickly, indigenization of Mount Royal University is one of five strategic priorities over the next three years. Guiding this action is our Indigenous Strategic Plan, the result of extensive consultation and dialogue. This plan guides us on how to embed Indigenous perspectives and ways of knowing into our campus and curriculum, support Indigenous students through to graduation, foster Indigenous research and learning and partner with communities. This will be a perpetual process where all of us will listen, learn, heal and grow. As Elder Miiksika’am, a spirtual advisor at Mount Royal says, “We need to take the good things of yesterday, put them with the good things of today and then we’ll be able to have a better tomorrow.”

David Docherty, PhD President, Mount Royal University





Snowbirds above us! Page 29 In keeping with military tradition, we asked the Summit team to assign each other call signs (“Goose,” “Maverick” and “Ice Man” were not allowed)

Paul “BOSS” Rossmann




Summit is an award-winning magazine published in the fall and spring of every year. Each issue introduces you to the exceptional students, faculty, alumni and supporters of Mount Royal University. Summit tells the University’s ongoing story to its various audiences, showcasing the aspirations, achievements and contributions of the Mount Royal community. In doing so, the magazine illustrates Mount Royal’s profile as a Canadian leader in undergraduate education. ISSN 1929-8757 Summit Publications Mail Agreement #40064310 Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: Mount Royal University 4825 Mount Royal Gate S.W. Calgary, AB, Canada T3E 6K6


You can enjoy Summit online by visiting If you would like us to deliver a print copy to your office or home, simply email

Sustainably yours.

EDITOR-IN- CHIEF Paul Rossmann


Michelle “BIG ED” Bodnar Bachelor of Communication (Applied) — Journalism (2005)


Michal “WHEELS” Waissmann Bachelor of Communication (Applied) — Electronic Publishing (2007)

PRODUCTION MANAGEMENT Deb “GEARS” Abramson Journalism diploma (1977)

COPY EDITORS Andrea Ranson Public Relations diploma (1985) Frankie “GHOST” Thornhill Social Work diploma (2007)


Illustration: Dion “OWL” Simon

P H OTO G R A P H Y A N D I L LU S T R AT I O N S Christina “PIXEL” Riches Bachelor of Communication — Information Design (2014) Dion Simon Michal Waissmann Chao “CHAOS” Zhang


Leslie “PARALLAX” Blondahl Bachelor of Communication — Information Design (2014) Christina Riches Michal Waissmann Chao Zhang


Jonathan “SLAPSHOT” Anderson Bachelor of Communication — Public Relations (2013) Michelle Bodnar Collette “ACE” Burjack Marlena “HERB” Cross Tierney “BUBBLES” Edmunds Bachelor of Communication — Public Relations (2012) Brendan “FISH” Greenslade Bachelor of Communication (Applied) — Public Relations (2010) Dave McLean Cameron “H20” Perrier Andrea Ranson Jenna “CLINK” Reimer Bachelor of Arts — English (2012) Bryan “SCOOP” Weismiller Bachelor of Communication — Journalism (2013)





UNDER WESTERN SKIES Water and its challenges and opportunities drew some of the world’s most dynamic speakers, thinkers and artists to Calgary for Under Western Skies 2016: Water — Events, Trends, Analysis. The esteemed international conference was held at Mount Royal from Sept. 27 to 30. This innovative, award-winning series is named after Donald Worster, an environmental historian whose book with the same title is a landmark in ecocritical studies. The theme of water was decided upon after the massive flood that hit southern Alberta in 2013. Legendary French academic Bruno Latour, advocate Maude Barlow, environmental philosopher Kathleen Dean Moore and photographer/filmmaker Chris Jordan were but a few of the conference’s keynote speakers. Also featured was the Canadian premiere of the theatrical tragicomedy Gaia Global Circus, one of Latour’s projects. “Under Western Skies was created to help identify, explain, critique and solve some of the complex environmental problems facing North America and the wider world to which it is climatologically connected,” explains Robert Boschman, co-founder and English professor at Mount Royal. Under Western Skies has been held every two years since 2010. Fittingly, the conference took place at the University’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold Certified Roderick Mah Centre for Continuous Learning.

CORRECTION In the Spring 2016 edition of Summit magazine, the "Semblance of Faith" article incorrectly identified a photo of Natasha Myette as Desdemona Lunz. We sincerely regret this error and thank those who brought it to our attention.




Elizabeth Evans, PhD Founding Dean, Faculty of Business and Communication Studies

A new dean joined the ranks of Mount Royal University’s leadership team this school year. Elizabeth Evans, PhD, was appointed to the position of founding dean of the Faculty of Business and Communication Studies, and began her role in August. Evans brings a proven blend of academic and industry experience to the position. She previously served as associate dean academic, Undergraduate Programs at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University. In addition, Evans worked in retail management and business consulting for 25 years. The Bissett School of Business and the Faculty of Communication Studies merged this summer. Under Evans’ leadership, they will continue to offer the same complement of undergrad degrees and will keep distinct public profiles.

SUNCOR ENERGY SUPPORTS INDIGENOUS EDUCATION PILOT PROJECT With a growing population of Indigenous students enrolled in the Bissett School of Business’s Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA), and with the support of Suncor Energy, a two-year pilot project was launched to investigate how to encourage and support student success. Concluding this year, Bissett School of Business leadership collaborated with MRU’s Iniskim Centre to advance Indigenous students’ engagement with and awareness of multiple avenues in the business sector. Events held were a Dean’s Lunch for Bissett School of Business Indigenous students, MRU’s first Indigenous Innovation Summit, a speaker series, forums and a retreat, where students talked openly to faculty about their experiences in the BBA program.


Awards & Accomplishments Kit Dobson named Eakin Visiting Fellow in Canadian Studies at McGill University Department of English, Languages, and Cultures faculty member Kit Dobson, PhD, was chosen as McGill University’s Eakin Visiting Fellow (winter, 2016) for his research program in English and Cultural Studies. The fellowship is designed for faculty on sabbaticals from their home institutions and is meant to foster cross-university connections in all fields connected to Canadian Studies. Lynn Moorman granted Emerald Award Professor Lynn Moorman, PhD, accepted an Emerald Award from the Alberta Emerald Foundation in recognition of her achievements in Public Education and Outreach and as acknowledgement of her Canadian Geographic Education program, the Classroom Energy Diet Challenge, which engaged 35,000 students in Canada this year alone. Carmen Nielson wins Hilda Neatby Prize Carmen Nielson, PhD, faculty member of the Department of Humanities, took home the Hilda Neatby Prize for Best Article in Women’s and Gender History published in Canada in 2015 for her work entitled, “Caricaturing Colonial Space: Indigenized, Feminized Bodies and AngloCanadian Identity, 1873-94.” Melanie Peacock receives Professional Achievement Award Professor Melanie Peacock, PhD, of the Bissett School of Business was recently awarded the 2016 Professional Achievement Award from the Western Alumni Association, an honour bestowed to alumni of Western University who have made outstanding contributions to their professions or communities. Christy Tompkins-Lane takes home ISSLS Award Professor Christy Tompkins-Lane, PhD, of the Department of Health and Physical Education won the 2015 Clinical Research Prize from the International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine, the world's pre-eminent spine society, as the principal author of a paper entitled, “Consensus on the Clinical Diagnosis of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis: Results of an International Delphi Study.”

MRU MAKES A MARK AT 2016 PARALYMPIC GAMES Bachelor of Child Studies student Morgan Bird swam her way into Canadian record books during the 2016 Paralympic Games. Competing in the 4x100-metre individual medley relay, Bird and her teammates shattered the Canadian record by six seconds. Although the team finished off the podium, Bird was proud of her achievements. Prior to arriving in Rio, she acknowledged the role of her support network — family, friends and instructors — in helping her attain success. “I wouldn’t be where I am and doing the things that I’m doing without the help of my professors,” says Bird. “They’ve been so understanding and I’m very thankful for that.” That wasn’t Mount Royal’s only tie to the world’s largest sporting event of its kind. Professor David Legg, PhD, of the Department of Health and Physical Education, was in Brazil as part of his role in the sport science branch of the International Paralympic Committee. At a pre-Games conference in Sao Paulo, Legg spoke about the legacy and impact of hosting the Paralympics. Alumnus Fran Quintana also made significant contributions to the Games by training some of the country’s top Paralympians, including wheelchair rugby star Trevor Hirschfield and swimmer Jonathan Dieleman.

Morgan Bird Bachelor of Child Studies student and Paralympic athlete





The Faculty of Arts is unveiling an innovative new space where students and faculty can conduct and participate in groundbreaking, hands-on psychology research. The new Centre for Psychological Innovation, opening in late November, will feature leading-edge technologies, including virtual reality headsets (Oculus Rift), 360º treadmills, one-way glass observation rooms and more. Students will be able to observe familial dynamics in the child and family lab, collect audio and video data and get even more work experience with faculty in their studies.

Memorial awards help keep legacies alive Each year, Mount Royal’s In Memoriam event celebrates the memory of those who have endowed scholarships and bursaries in their names. “These endowments are gifts of the most special kind,” says Jonathan Love, media and communications specialist for Mount Royal’s Faculty of Continuing Education and Extension and emcee for the event. “It is comforting to know that loved ones have played an integral part in our students’ future.” Held in the Dr. John H. Garden Memorial Park, those honoured at this year’s event were: »» Manmeet Singh Bhullar »» Sandra Fae Durrant politician and community ambassador for justice leader for child welfare and related social issues and education »» Elizabeth Parnham »» Martha Cohen Mount Royal Conservatory philanthropist and leader Speech Arts and Public in social work Speaking instructor »» Alexandra Victoria Drouin Mount Royal Bachelor of Communication graduate All represent the outstanding character and community spirit that MRU students are encouraged to uphold.

Library Awards showcase MRU student research This year’s winners of the Library Award for Excellence in Scholarly Endeavours used their research skills to demonstrate in-depth looks at the history of American music technology and the evolution of Chinese cuisine in America. Steven Lilley, a history student in his fifth year of studies, took home the Senior Award for his project, “‘The Robot as an Entertainer’: Historical Consciousness and the Mechanical Music Controversy in America, 1906-1929.” Stephanie Weber, who is now in her fourth year of studies as a history major, won the Junior Award for her paper, “Culinary Imperialism: Chinese Food in New York, 1870-1943.” A panel of five judges evaluates all submissions, which range from essays and posters to films and fiction.



Valerie Kinear, former dean of the Bissett School of Business, and Janice MacPherson, interim CEO of the HRIA, sign the agreement

ACCREDITATION PUTS HUMAN RESOURCES GRADS IN THE CAREER FAST LANE In June 2016, Mount Royal’s human resources program became the province's first post-secondary institution to be accredited by the Human Resources Institute of Alberta, allowing students to skip the national knowledge exam. Under the agreement, graduates can move straight to building up a minimum of three years’ work experience to earn their Certified Human Resources Professional designation. “Our program is comprehensive, academically rigorous and strongly tied to what employers are looking for,” said Melanie Peacock, PhD and professor in Mount Royal’s Bissett School of Business. "Now, the process for our workforce-ready graduates to get their professional designation will be even faster.”




On Sept. 28, Mount Royal’s Taylor Centre for the Performing Arts was the proud recipient of a 2015 Calgary Award for Accessibility. In the construction of the $90.5 million conservatory and performance hall, approximately $1 million was spent on accessibility components. According to the City of Calgary’s website, “The Award for Accessibility recognizes buildings or facilities in Calgary that significantly exceeded the minimum requirements of Section 3.8, ‘Barrier-Free Design’ of the Alberta Building Code for accessibility by persons with disabilities.” “We invite all community members to the Taylor Centre for the Performing Arts to enjoy performances and participate in classes,” says David Docherty, president of Mount Royal University. “This means it must be accessible for everyone.” Also a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certified building, some of the accessibility aspects of the centre are: up to 20 wheelchair accessible seating spaces in the concert hall; direct vehicle access; interior and exterior barrierfree paths of travel; superior location of controls, dispensers and receptacles; enhanced lighting; availability of assisted-listening devices and reduction of ambient sound. As well, ramps are shallow graded, all elevators are accessible and access doors to all public washrooms meet all latch side clearances and include powered operators. “The Bella Concert Hall is a world-class facility, unique in the city of Calgary,” says Lee Miller, associate, SAHURI + Partners Architecture Inc., which combined with Pfeiffer Partners Architects Inc. to complete the accessibility initiative of the project. Miller says that while the design team worked hard to maximize the inherent accessibility of the design, Mount Royal’s contribution and overall expectations for the project were integral to its successful execution. “It used to be that encouraging an organization to be inclusive was seen as an inconvenience. Institutions like MRU now recognize inclusivity as part of its richness. MRU went well beyond minimum requirements, making The Conservatory exemplary in this regard,” Miller says.


E VENTS WHAT THE WRITERS SAY November 16, 2016 Noon The Knuckle (EA 3001) You are invited to a special reading of new works by four of Mount Royal’s creative writing faculty. Beth Everest and Richard Harrison will be reading from their new books, Silent Sister: The Mastectomy Poems and On Not Losing My Father’s Ashes in the Flood. Playwright Natalie Meisner will present selections from her hitJoin us! production Speed Dating for November 26, 2016 Sperm Donors, and Calgary’s 7:30 p.m. current Poet Laureate, Bella Concert Hall in the Taylor 2016/17 Micheline Maylor, willCONCERT give SEASON Centre for the Performing Arts a preview reading of works Attend an exclusive evening from her upcoming book with astronaut and first Little Wildheart. Canadian commander of the International Space Station,




SAIYAwards November 25, 2016 7 p.m. Leacock Theatre The Southern Alberta Indigenous Youth Awards (SAIYAwards) are presented to Indigenous youth living in the southern Alberta area. They are nominated for demonstrating leadership and friendship, and for overcoming personal challenges. The awards will also showcase performances by Indigenous youth between the ages of 13 and 18.



Col. Chris Hadfield. His daily Twitter greeting from space of, “Good morning, Earth!” led him to become a worldwide sensation, making outer space accessible to millions. or 403.440.7770

SOUNDS OF THE SEASON December 17, 2016 7 p.m. Bella Concert Hall in the Taylor Centre for the Performing Arts Featuring the Calgary Youth Orchestra, the Mount Royal Artio and Kantorei choirs, and special guests the Heebee-jeebees, celebrate the season with a mix of musical selections including holiday classics and the longstanding tradition of Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus.” or 403.440.7770

CROWCHILD CLASSIC February 2, 2017 Women’s game at 5 p.m. Men’s game at 7:45 p.m. Scotiabank Saddledome The annual Crowchild Classic — which pits the Mount Royal Cougars and University of Calgary Dinos against each other in regular season competition — has seen record-breaking crowds each year since the hockey tournament’s inception in 2012. Tickets are free and will be available at the door. 403.440.6516

WHO’S FRANK? February 13-14, 2017 Events around and off campus In its fourth year, Who’s Frank? brings numerous experts to Calgary to speak to thousands of high school students about their experiences with bullying and effective, safe ways to combat its effects. Watch for Frank, a bright pink, life-sized “elephant in the room.” Check the website for more information closer to the event. whosfrank

ADAPTED PHYSICAL ACTIVITY SYMPOSIUM March 23-25, 2017 Department of Health and Physical Education This three-day symposium focuses on sport, recreation, fitness and physical education for persons with disabilities. Contact David Legg at for details

SPRING CONVOCATION June 1-2, 2017 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. each day Triple Gym Graduates and their guests are invited to attend Mount Royal’s Convocation ceremonies, a time-honoured tradition where students toss their tassels, celebrate the results of their hard work and begin the next stage of their lives.


WHAT’S THIS FEATHER? Found in the office of Dion Simon, Medicine Trail (Naato’ohsokoy) Program coordinator at MRU (see bio on page 23), eagle feathers are one of the highest rewards that can be received in Indigenous traditions. The feather signifies love, compassion and truth, and is a pure and sacred item used in sharing and healing circles, smudging ceremonies and the swearing of oaths. They can also be seen as a teaching tool about the life cycle of the human form.



Alumni Achievement Awards It is an eclectic group. From a Crown prosecutor to an opera singer, and from a gymnast coach to a venture capitalist, their diversity is wide. And from a newspaper editor to a cowboy, and a pilot to an orthopedic surgeon, their impact is deep. Every year, the Mount Royal University community comes together in a special celebration of our outstanding students and graduates. Selected from among more than 90,000 alumni, recipients of the Alumni Achievement Awards embody the sense of citizenship and dedication to excellence that are the hallmarks of a Mount Royal education. Recognized for their significant contributions to their community or profession, recipients serve as ambassadors for the University and as an inspiration to future graduates.

This year, the Alumni Achievement Awards encompass three categories. »» The Outstanding Alumni Awards acknowledge alumni who demonstrate outstanding achievement in their fields »» The Outstanding Future Alumni Award distinguishes a current student based on academic accomplishments, school involvement and volunteer history »» The Horizon Award recognizes the outstanding achievements of alumni early in their careers


We are proud to introduce the 2016 recipients of the Alumni Achievement Awards.

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Patricia (Pat) Patton can only be described as a trailblazer. During a career that spans more than three decades, she has broken gender barriers, been an agent of change in her field and taken every opportunity to seek and apply new learning. She built a department from the ground up and today oversees just under 100 employees as director of Security and Operations at the University of Regina. For Patton, her most significant impact has been the opportunity to affect change in young people. “Security has a role to play in students’ education,” says Patton. “We help teach them how to live in a community.” While a university is a natural fit for Patton’s appetite for learning and helping others, she began her studies at Mount Royal under the assumption she would enter policing. An excursion to Houston, Texas opened her eyes to additional possibilities. “We got to see jails and youth camps, as well as the University of Houston and its police department,” says Patton. “I loved the atmosphere at Mount Royal, and I knew there was such a thing as campus security; this trip made me realize that could be a career opportunity.” After graduation, Patton landed her first job at the University of Saskatchewan, which was in the midst of evolving a new security model. “It was very much people-based and about being involved in the community,” says Patton. “It really piqued my interest.” A decade later, Patton leapt at the opportunity to build a security department from scratch at the University of Regina, only a 10-minute walk from where she grew up.

Since then, Patton has developed an award-winning team that is integral to campus life. She has been critical to the University’s success, providing leadership during fires and floods; implementing security plans for major events; liaising with local law enforcement agencies and instigating security policies across the campus. She is also heavily involved in the community, serving as a Canadian representative for the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators. There have been obstacles along the way. As one of the few women in Canada to hold a senior position in campus security, Patton has faced sexism and discrimination throughout her career. “People would defer to my male colleagues,” says Patton. “They’d assume a woman was not physically capable.”

Patton’s experiences fuel her interest in Man Up Against Violence (MUAV), an international initiative born at the University of Regina that has been presented internationally as a model to promote healthy masculinities. For Patton, who sits on the MUAV advisory board, this program addresses the missing piece in conversations about sexual violence and assault. “We know a huge proportion of violence against women is done by men, and research shows a lot of that is a result of socialization,” says Patton. “We put men in a ‘man-box.’” Used to operating behind the scenes, Patton was surprised to learn she was a recipient of an Alumni Achievement Award. “I was stunned, but I’m proud of what I’ve done,” says Patton. “It all started with my education.”



OUTSTANDING ALUMNI AWARD — COMMUNITY SERVICE Bachelor of Applied Justice Studies, 2003

It sounds like the opening to an episode of CSI: a team of investigators awaits the results of an unconventional DNA test, hoping it will hold the key to a series of grisly attacks. The team is led by Officer Brad Nichols, manager of Animal Cruelty Investigations at the Calgary Humane Society. The case is the 2014 deaths of a Siberian husky and a domestic cat, acts of violence that outraged the Calgary community. Describing the case as a “classic whodunit,” Nichols and his team scoured the neighbourhood for information, which eventually led them to sending samples garnered from the execution of a search warrant for forensic testing — an unusual step in cases of animal cruelty. Ultimately, their perseverance resulted in the perpetrator’s arrest, conviction and imprisonment. For Nichols, this case showcases the dedication and resourcefulness of a team he has cultivated for more than a decade. Moreover, it exemplifies the commitment



and collaborative spirit Nichols has exhibited throughout his career — a potent combination that has brought his team international renown. Nichols’ thirst for autonomy and free thinking first brought him to Mount Royal in 2000, after three years of study at another university hadn’t gotten him any closer to choosing his career. In Mount Royal’s Applied Justice Studies program, he thrived in the small class sizes with one-on-one attention from instructors. Through his program, he completed a practicum with Rocky View County. After graduation, he continued working with the County as a bylaw officer. Favouring creative problem solving and peaceful mediation over ticketing, he saw his role as building a community. “I’m a problem solver,” says Nichols. “I enjoy helping the community.” After two years as a bylaw officer, Nichols accepted a position with the Calgary Humane Society — a rare union of law enforcement and the non-profit sector. There, Nichols discovered his true calling. Since 2005, Nichols has risen to the position of senior manager. Along the way, his collaborative approach has brought

incredible results. In particular, he’s cultivated close ties with the Calgary Police Service, Calgary Animal Bylaw Services and forensic veterinarians, allowing Nichols’ team to be more responsive, close more cases and operate more safely. Under his direction, the department began using forensic evidence for the first time in 2009. Today, Nichols’ team is the gold standard for animal cruelty departments nationally. While working with animals who have suffered neglect and abuse takes an emotional toll, they give Nichols motivation and strength. “I’m inspired by their transformation,” Nichols says. “When you approach an animal who’s fearful or scared, and you win their trust and follow them through to the adoption process, it keeps you going.” In addition to his managerial duties, Nichols regularly supervises practicum students from Mount Royal and other institutions, encouraging them to entertain different opportunities within law enforcement. Nichols is honoured to receive an Alumni Achievement Award, and insists his achievements are a reflection of his team. “I consider this to be a departmental, not an individual, award.”

HORIZON AWARD Music Performance Diploma, 2008

Search for Carmen Morin online and you may stumble across a grainy video of her when she was eight years old, playing the piano alongside her two brothers on the iconic TV show, Hello Calgary. When the host, Gord Gillies, asks about her plans for when she grows up, Morin smiles and muses, “I might be a piano teacher.” Several decades later, Morin has more than fulfilled that eight-year-old’s dream. She is the founder of Morin Music Studio, a music instruction studio that has grown to enroll more than 600 students in a little over two years. Morin credits her fierce work ethic and perseverance to her own music education. “Music was the vehicle to enrich our lives,” says Morin of her childhood. “In our formative years, it taught us how to set goals, brought a sense of accomplishment and showed us there was no limit to what we can do.” With music infusing her life, it’s no surprise that she became involved with the Mount Royal University Conservatory at an early age. “Some of my earliest childhood memories are in the Mount Royal Conservatory hallways,” says Morin. Morin excelled in The Conservatory’s Academy for Gifted Youth, finding herself in a like-minded community of musicians and instructors. One of her most memorable moments was representing her country on

a performance tour of Mexico on behalf of the Canadian Embassy. As an adult, Morin enrolled in Mount Royal’s Music Performance diploma program. She bolstered her studies with classes in business and entrepreneurship. At first glance, business and music seem unusual bedfellows, but for Morin these two disciplines form the core of her success. “They complement each other,” says Morin. “Entrepreneurship is creative thinking, imagining all the different ways things can be interpreted, not setting limits. That’s how a musician’s mind is trained.” Upon completing her diploma, Morin transferred to the University of Calgary to pursue a Bachelor of Music. She later transitioned from student to instructor, joining Mount Royal’s faculty. While valuing the support of Mount Royal’s close-knit community, she always knew she wanted to strike out on her own. In 2013, she made the leap. Starting her own studio proved an immense — and

rewarding — challenge. Morin describes a whirlwind two years of planning, renovating and, most importantly, honing her vision for her studio. “My studio philosophy focuses on developing the whole child,” Morin says. “We use music as a means to enrich, teach skills and bond parent and child.” Dedicated to increasing access to music education for all children, Morin also founded the Love of Music Calgary program, which provides lessons to children whose families cannot afford private instruction. She continues to give back to Mount Royal by serving as a mentor through the Harry G. Schaefer Mentorship Program and by being a proud donor to The Conservatory’s new Bella Concert Hall. Morin is honoured to receive an Alumni Achievement Award. “Mount Royal has been such a big part of my musical journey and my career,” says Morin. “It’s very close to my heart.”



THE NOMINATION PERIOD FOR THE NEXT ALUMNI ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS IS FROM JAN. 3 TO FEB. 25, 2017 Visit: to learn more For some, the words “spare time” mean catching up on Netflix or chasing Pokémon; for Cassandra Nysten, they mean teaching children with disabilities how to swim or assisting adults suffering from brain damage with their rehabilitation. A community leader and consummate volunteer, the fourth-year Bachelor of Science student embodies the sense of citizenship that Mount Royal University strives to instill in every graduate. “My favourite time is when I’m volunteering,” says Nysten. “I love to make a difference in people’s lives.”


OUTSTANDING FUTURE ALUMNI AWARD Bachelor of Science — Health Science, 2017



Being raised on a family farm on the outskirts of Carstairs, Alta., fostered Cassandra Nysten’s sense of community. “Growing up in a small town, you take care of each other. You grow up together,” she says. Nysten was an active member in Carstairs’ athletics, participating on countless teams and leading the Hugh Sutherland School basketball team to the provincials for the first time in 30 years. “I believe that by implementing healthy and positive changes in your own life, you can encourage others to do the same,” says Nysten. “You can make a huge impact in your community.” This focus on community is what attracted Nysten to Mount Royal University and its small-town feel. Away from home for the first time, Nysten initially struggled to find a balance between a demanding course load, her athletic pursuits and her volunteer commitments. Thanks to her family’s support and the resources available at Mount Royal, she soon found her stride. Today, she holds a remarkable 4.0 GPA and continues to work to improve people’s lives throughout the campus and beyond.

Nysten is most proud of the impact she’s had as a Peer Health Educator. In this role, she assists in planning and running events to promote a healthier campus, including educating her peers on mental, physical and financial health. Also dear to Nysten’s heart is her involvement with the Association for the Rehabilitation of the Brain Injured. Having worked closely with several clients during the previous year, Nysten says she gained a new understanding about the perseverance and determination required to recover from a brain injury. “It’s rewarding to be able to reach out to so many people.” In addition to her volunteer activities, Nysten continues to nourish her love of sports by participating in Mount Royal intramural basketball. Also an entrepreneur, during the summers she raises and sells free-range chickens. “I sometimes take on more than I can handle, but I love it all — volunteering, academics, basketball,” says Nysten. Above all, Nysten is driven by her lifelong dream of becoming a doctor. Describing the challenges ahead as “daunting,” Nysten is nevertheless determined to succeed in this highly competitive field. “It tests your character and commitment,” says Nysten of the path to medical school. “You have to decide if this is really what you want to do with your life.” Nysten is honoured to join the illustrious company of present and former Alumni Achievement Award recipients. To students just beginning their post-secondary path, Nysten says, “Never give up, but lean on the support you have. You don’t have to do this journey alone.”

Kylie Toh, MRU alumna, founder of Chic Geek and Top 40 Under 40 winner.

It’s about where you’ve been and where you’re going Imagine your Mount Royal alumni community as 90,000 connections like Kylie Toh and other amazing alumni who are nominees and winners of this year’s Top 40 Under 40. We’re proud of you, you’ve earned it, you belong here.


Poetry elicits a visceral reaction in many people. The memories of a grade school classroom are often not fond. It’s common to outright hate poetry — an art form that seems to be known mainly for its games and trickery. But what if poetry was never meant to fool? There’s a fearless group of Calgary writers fighting to drag the much-maligned craft of poetry away from the stigma that is firmly attached to it. They want to bring poetry back to the people, where they insist it really belongs. Because regular people create poetry and they write it to share with you.

Micheline Maylor English professor and 2016-2018 City of Calgary Poet Laureate



“... poetry is a very human attempt to put into words the very wordless feelings of being human.” — Micheline Maylor

HOW POETRY BECAME UNCOOL Being a poet can seem like a strange life choice. “It’s not a very well-defined sort of thing,” says Micheline Maylor, PhD and English professor at Mount Royal and the City of Calgary’s 2016-2018 Poet Laureate. “People think that poets are a bunch of flakes doing soft art and lamenting all things by candlelight in perpetual woe.” It wasn’t always like this, though. Poetry used to be a way to communicate emotions better, not worse, than regular language, and was widely respected as a legitimate — and difficult — art form. Richard Harrison, professor of English at Mount Royal, says every century or so there is a backlash against the traditional concept of poetry by both writers and readers alike. Poets are known to deny their own profession, attempting to define it as something else. Although the British-Canadian poet Robert W. Service was a virtual rock star in his day, “At his time, he hated poetry so much that he refused to call his own work ‘poetry,’” Harrison says. “He wrote ‘verse.’” In a more contemporary setting, the rise of dub, rap and spoken word later in the 20 th century was yet another rejection of sorts. Writers did everything they could to avoid the dry, intellectual privilege perceived in old-fashioned “page poetry,” and rejuvenate the poetic form through emphasis on how the poem sounds and what it says openly, says Harrison. These forms allowed poetry to become more raw, cutting and real … even perverse and alarming, even though it was often not recognized as poetry at all. Some scholars think this counterattack happened because of the conventional methods of teaching poetry, which insisted on studying a poem by reading it for what it “really means” despite how it impacts its readers. “There is a crushing need to interpret poetry,” says Harrison. “The people who don’t like poetry think they don’t understand it. And unfortunately it’s been used as an intelligence test.”

The manipulation of the poem can be said to coincide with what Harrison refers to as “cultural loyalty” created through language. It is the feeling that no matter what political or social connections we have, who we are is most intimately connected to how we speak and read. “If you can only think in English, then in some sense, no matter where you are born, English is your home. That's ‘cultural loyalty,’” says Harrison. Colonists from Britain knew that a standardized language would play in their favour and set up schools in English wherever they went. It is the classic pattern of an empire, where a national language that is taught and learned “properly” has the effect of creating an innate similarity and understanding of a culture and a political body. This is what happened with poetry. Instead of being as simple as words describing something, an emotion or a thought, through no fault of its own, poetry became mired in politics. To reduce the poem to a single, consensus meaning is to take away the very essence of what a poem is supposed to be, says Harrison. In the demand that a poem become something else through the power of Sherlock Holmes-esque deduction, the poem itself ceases to be important. “Any kind of creation with words on a page or words in the sky, words on a screen, any one of those things is poetry,” he says. “Why can’t you just put words on a page and give people an experience? That is the meaning. That is the reason. “The poem has always existed in the tension between what it is and what it means. We need to keep both.” Harrison describes the habit of translating poems into one sentence, meaning or interpretation as doing violence to the poem and people responding to it. Failure to “get” a poem makes people feel powerless, stupid. And you can’t persuade somebody something is good, or worth it, or enjoyable, if their experience of it is exclusionary, explains Harrison.



Mount Royal English professor derek beaulieu, PhD, who served as the 2014-2016 City of Calgary Poet Laureate, agrees with this standpoint. “We are so afraid of poetry. We’ve been taught that it’s boring, that it’s dull, that it’s scary and something to be avoided so pervasively that when we are asked to write a poem, what we put out is so distant from ourselves,” says beaulieu. He believes the way our students are taught in grade school has done them a bit of a disservice. “One of the things that I try to throw away right away in the classroom is that there is no deep inner meaning in poetry. Read the words on the page. That’s it. Done. Nothing further than that. Read the words on the page and tell me what they mean to you,” beaulieu says. He observes how some students tend to write flowery verse with rhyme and metre, which isn’t reflective of their actual real lives. “It’s because we’re taught that poetry is frozen in amber like a prehistoric mosquito. No! Write me a love poem to your Pikachu. Write me something that is about what you are doing in the language of how you are doing it. But write today. In the way that you experience the world,” he says. “Don’t try to write me a poem with all of that cultural baggage.”

WHERE IS POETRY TODAY? According to Maylor, many people don’t realize that poetry already invades their lives daily, through music, songwriting, rap, visual arts and even in advertising. “Poetry shows up in unexpected places all the time. It’s a matter of paying close attention, seeing that poetry is both an ad jingle and the Rime of the Ancient Mariner. That it is a genre big enough for Kanye and the Song of Solomon,” Maylor says. beaulieu thinks that poetry is also perhaps the most perceptive of the art forms. “It is responsive to the dialogue that we have with ourselves, with our community, with our surroundings,” beaulieu says. “Poets all respond to our world. We all respond to what’s around us and our concerns and our worries.” David Hyttenrauch, PhD and chair of Mount Royal’s Department of English, Languages, and Cultures says, “There’s a tension in poetry to express the complexity of the human experience inventively and concisely. So it requires fearless examination, lateral thinking and precision with language (and sometimes with form). That’s a state of mind with value beyond poetry: it’s a means of getting to the essence of a problem, of selfexamining and living fully and well.” Going into his second year at Mount Royal, English major Gabriel Merencilla has been writing poetry on and off since about Grade 4. He writes when he’s inspired by an event or experience, and is refreshingly free of any sort of bias that may have stopped him from experimenting with language. “I think a big part of poetry is just to express what we think onto paper. Because a lot of the time it’s not even about what we think, it’s about how we feel, and sometimes it’s so hard to translate that,” says Merencilla.


Gabriel Merencilla Bachelor of Arts — English student



Poetry is words on a page, yes, but it is also much more than that. Maylor describes it as the “great connector.” “Poetry is the way that we express when we feel something. When feeling love, or reverence, or fear, that feeling comes unnamed or unworded. And I think that poetry is a very human attempt to put into words the very wordless feelings of being human,” says Maylor. There’s power in poetry. Words are a way of giving freely, and a good poem is uncompromising and brave. “Poetry can do whatever you want it to do. Poetry is not something to be feared. Poetry should be the charged and thoughtful use of language and its particles. Have it evoke. Have it create something that you didn’t expect. That’s what we look for in poetry,” says beaulieu.

pop-up poetry

“we’re taught that poetry is frozen in amber like a prehistoric mosquito.” — derek beaulieu

derek beaulieu English professor and 2014-2016 City of Calgary Poet Laureate

Drawn by the recognizable sound of typewriters and the unexpected spectacle of poets writing out loud, on Aug. 9 more than 100 people were treated to a personal poem on a topic of their choosing in downtown Calgary. The event, dubbed “Pop-Up Poetry,” was Mount Royal’s way of bringing poetry back to the people … both physically and literally. The City of Calgary’s Poet Laureate and Mount Royal professor Micheline Maylor, along with a trio of her talented colleagues, fellow Mount Royal faculty members and well-known local poets Richard Harrison and derek beaulieu (Calgary’s 2014-2016 Poet Laureate), as well as storyteller Cassy Welburn, churned out dozens of poems each using words tossed at them from interested passersby. Verse was created about coffee, fajitas and shoe leather. Loved ones were a popular muse. Dogs, too. Love, summer and the ocean also made up a few of the topics. “Each of these spontaneous poems offered a tiny window into the minds of Calgarians,” said Maylor. “Some of the requests were deeply personal. Others were kooky. “In every case, it was a tremendous honour to tell stories through this medium and to share this art form with the downtown community.” The event was intended to humanize the written word by putting writers directly in front of the folks reading their words. “The idea of reaching out to the public to make poetry more integrated makes it something normal, something real and something that’s part of our community,” says beaulieu.



POEM BY Richard Harrison English professor

IT’S THE YEAR OF THE POET AT MOUNT ROYAL In anticipation of Brandt’s arrival, we asked her a few questions.

What does it take to be a poet? 2017 Writer in Residence The Department of English, Languages, and Cultures’ 2017 Writer in Residence is the renowned Di Brandt, PhD and professor emerita at Brandon University. She has published eight collections of poetry and is known as a contemporary writer whose feminist, activist works contrast sharply with her strict, patriarchal and conservative Mennonite upbringing. Slated to be at Mount Royal from March 6 to 10, Brandt will be available to students to discuss their writing, to visit lectures and to give presentations. The pinnacle of Brandt’s visit will be a public reading and lecture.

All it takes to be a poet is an interest in language, and rhythm, and cadence, and a sense of curiosity, and adventure, and fun and the desire to explore these things further. Everyone has at least some of that. So everyone is a poet, at least a little bit. Poetry has taken a hit in the postmodern era, and is no longer considered the “queen of the discourses” — no longer revered and honoured the way it was in the past. And yet, it is still the most powerful way to be in language, and can move people immensely, in the writing, reading and hearing of it.

Why is poetry important? There’s something deeply transformational and visionary in poetry. It has an extraordinary capacity to enlarge our sensibility, expressiveness and understanding of ourselves and the world around us. It’s a language of connection, and interconnection — a language that is able to address us in multi-dimensional ways, a holistic language that touches people’s hearts in unexpected, powerful, lovely and tender ways. It’s a very efficient and simple language that any child can understand and yet that can hold the deepest meanings. It’s a language of inspiration, and hope, and love. Poetry can be silly, deep, philosophical and fun — all at once!

What do you think about poetry in Calgary? Calgary has become such a hotbed for innovative poetry in recent years. Mayor Nenshi probably had something to do with that, as well as the fine creative writing programs at the universities, and the lively arts scene at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. And the vibrant youthful energies of this growing city. And the electric vibes of the mountains meeting the prairies. A magical place.

“the people who don’t like poetry think they don’t understand it. and unfortunately it’s been used as an intelligence test.” — Richard Harrison

POETRY IN CALGARY In the creation of the Poet Laureate program, Calgary’s Mayor Naheed Nenshi has come out as a stalwart supporter of poetry in the city. “Poetry plays an important role in our society by revealing to us our community humanity,” Nenshi says. Calgary has one of the strongest poetry communities in North America, according to beaulieu. When he travels internationally, people will ask him about Calgary poets by name. It’s a vibrant population that is continuously breaking down barriers and provoking the norm. “Calgary’s literary reputation is sterling outside of the city, and we have the reputation as being one of the absolute hotbeds of risk-taking poetry on the planet. You want to know where the cutting edge of poetry is in North America? It’s in Calgary,” says beaulieu. Hyttenrauch notes three reasons for the vibrancy of poetry right now. “First is that we have a concentration of exceptional poets in the city. Second is that we have a solid infrastructure for public performance and publication, with independent book stores like Pages, Shelf Life and Owl’s Nest, various writers in residency programs and the Banff Centre. Third, there is a real community, with faculty like Micheline, Richard, derek and Beth Everest developing student potential and introducing them to a supportive wider creative community of writers whose debates, readings, classes and writers’ groups support a creative culture,” he says. “I think the poetry scene in Calgary is pretty cool. It’s actually surprising how many people are at readings and are willing to go up on the stage and share their work,” says Merencilla. Poetry — and poets — continue to combat being boxed in by those wanting to use them for something other than their original purpose. Turns out, writing poetry is actually a normal, healthy, human thing to do. And Calgary is one of the best places to do it.




Situated on the traditional lands of the Niitsitapi (Blackfoot) and the Treaty 7 Nations, which include the Siksika, the Piikani, the Kainai, the Tsuut’ina and the Iyarhe Nakoda, Mount Royal is working to more closely reflect the ground on which it stands.



“I was very resentful of the schooling system ... it really affected me in a negative way.” — Grace Heavy Runner Bachelor of Communication — Journalism student



A dishonourable fact of Alberta’s history is that this province housed more residential schools than any other in Canada, some of which were very near to where Mount Royal sits today. Reconciling with this history is extremely important to Grace Heavy Runner, a secondyear student in MRU’s Bachelor of Communication — Journalism program. Prior to enrolling, Heavy Runner trekked a winding and often precarious course that she says systemically forced her to disregard the value of education. A member of the Blood Tribe — Kainai First Nation in southern Alberta, Heavy Runner was brought up in the shadows of colonization. Her parents attended St. Mary’s Indian Residential School near Stand Off, Alta., where Heavy Runner also spent two years of her childhood. She was present when the school’s closure was announced, which was news met with great relief. The racism she experienced resulted in a deeply ingrained alienation. “I was very resentful with the schooling system, especially when you had your white teachers telling you that you were never going to amount to anything, never be good at computers, never be good at English or math,” she says. “It really affected me in a negative way.” Heavy Runner stopped going to school after Grade 10. But after struggling through a series of low-paying jobs, she realized further education was key to supporting a young family. “Instead of running away from education, I needed to jump right into it.” Heavy Runner began studying at Lethbridge College before making her way to Mount Royal. Now in her 40s, she is proud of the effort she put into continuing her scholing. She has relied on a circle of support she found on campus, notably the Iniskim Centre, which offers programs and services to increase the engagement of Indigenous students, and is both a refuge and resource for many. Positive experiences don’t mean everything is perfect, however. Heavy Runner points to gaps in the curriculum, mainly a lack of Indigenous topics, history and issues in the classroom. “[Reconciliation is] a big thing that we’re dealing with right now. It’s going to take a lot of years and hard work,” she says. “The schooling system is the number one target to educate students.” While at times Heavy Runner says she feels disconnected from her colleagues, she makes a concerted effort to bridge the gap by bringing her culture to campus. Every week, she makes fry bread for the Iniskim Centre and performs jingle dance demonstrations in her own handmade dresses. Off campus, Heavy Runner has worked on raising awareness with Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Men and Boys, and helped with a petition for an open investigation for all Indigenous Canadians through

As part of the University’s mandate to provide learning opportunities in an environment of inclusion, diversity and respect, Mount Royal is openly acknowledging the past while charting a clear course for the future. A new Indigenous Strategic Plan outlines a path to 2021 and reflects 18 months of intensive consultation on campus and in the community.

INDIGENIZING MOUNT ROYAL UNIVERSITY Cultivate respectful and welcoming environments that prevail over the legacy of colonization



Foster respect for Indigenous ways of knowing and knowledge production and increase capacity for Indigenous scholarship

Build strong relationships by forging mutually supportive and productive partnerships with all stakeholders in Indigenous education

SUPPORT FOR INDIGENOUS LEARNERS Work with our communities to enhance the academic, personal and cultural experience of Indigenous learners

RESPECTFUL AND INCLUSIVE CURRICULA AND PEDAGOGIES Promote culturally responsible and respectful curricula that integrate Indigenous pedagogies and ways of knowing



For Michelle Fournie, it wasn’t until she came to Mount Royal in 2007 that she was finally able to put her experiences as a Métis person into context. As a child, Fournie’s Métis father didn’t talk about his heritage. She discovered later that it was because of the infamous Sixties Scoop. When questioned, her grandfather would deny his children’s origin, for fear of having them taken away. There was also her appearance. With an Irish mother, she often gets told, “You don’t look native.” The other line of questioning is, “How much Aboriginal are you?” “You’re always trying to quantify yourself, and that’s devaluing as a person,” Fournie says. Although awkward, she understands that not everyone knows the sensitivities around Indigenous origin, so she uses these incidents as an educational opportunity. A graduate of Mount Royal’s Bachelor of Communication — Public Relations program and now a recruitment officer with Enrolment Services, Fournie says that as an urban Métis it was difficult to find a sense of place. “You often have to go out and find your own community. And that’s what I found at Mount Royal.” At the beginning of her studies, Fournie was a self-supporting student in need of a place to stay on campus. She discovered the Indigenous Housing Program, which was ideal. With 28 units for singles and four units for families, the program has been so successful, and demand so great, that there have been early-stage discussions with the federal and provincial governments about adding more housing for families. In addition to housing assistance, Fournie was also the recipient of the ConocoPhillips Canada Aboriginal Awards Program, the TransCanada Aboriginal Education Scholarship and program-specific awards. She was unfortunately one year too far into her studies to apply for the (then new) Métis Education Foundation Métis Scholar Awards, which is now available to students. All in all, more than a dozen awards, bursaries and scholarships are available where preference is given to those who self-identify as Indigenous.



Released in June 2015, the findings of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) included 94 Calls to Action that aim to help right past wrongs. Many point directly at educational needs. According to Liam Haggarty, professor of Indigenous Studies in Mount Royal’s Department of Humanities, these directives nicely line up with the University’s vision of indigenization. Since 2013, Mount Royal has been building a framework to increase Indigenous participation in post-secondary education and better integrate Indigenous knowledge, practices and pedagogies into the curriculum. Although significant progress is being made, there is still much work to be done. The key premise of the Indigenous Strategic Plan is that Indigenous Peoples have the right to meaningful postsecondary education. Jim Zimmer, associate vice-president of Teaching and Learning and a member of the Indigenous Strategy Steering Committee, says, “Education opens doors to professional opportunities in many fields and leadership opportunities in communities. Disparities contribute to under-representation of Indigenous Peoples in many walks of life.” While Indigenous People are the fastest growing population in Canada, they are under-represented in post-secondary institutions. According to Mount Royal’s 2014/15 Annual Report, the University’s Indigenous enrolment measured at 4.4 per cent of its overall population for that academic year. A recent survey prepared for the Canadian University Survey Consortium by

the Prairie Research Associates found Indigenous demographics for all universities to be at 3.0 per cent, and for comparable universities to be at 7.0 per cent, a number Mount Royal is striving to meet by 2024/25. “It is important to convey to Indigenous youth the full breadth of educational and professional opportunities available on our campuses and create pathways, transitions and support structures into programs and fields they may not have considered,” Zimmer says. Melanie Parsons, MRU’s new Indigenous recruitment officer, helps to make the direct link from high school to post-secondary. “I try to get people really excited about furthering their education by getting them to think about their own interests and dreams, and how post-secondary can help them meet their goals,” Parsons says. Those first steps toward post-secondary education are important and last year 133 Indigenous students upgraded to enable their entry into a degree or diploma program at Mount Royal. Along with increasing access, the University is committed to supporting Indigenous students through to graduation. Zimmer explains that in Canada the rate of degree attainment for Indigenous youth is significantly lower than for non-Indigenous youth. An important aspect of Mount Royal’s indigenization strategy is to put processes in place to begin to address this discrepancy.

“Disparities contribute to underrepresentation of Indigenous Peoples in many walks of life.” — Jim Zimmer Associate Vice-President, Teaching and Learning



About the artist

Dion Simon Medicine Trail (Naato’ohsokoy) Program Coordinator, Iniskim Centre Through his role on campus, Dion Simon helps students continue their cultural practices and increases Indigenous awareness among employees. Along with being a valued cultural advisor and relationship builder, he is an artist. “Artwork has always been with me. I see it as a gift from Creator,” he says. A Plains Cree (the Bear People), Simon grew up in Ermineskin — one of the four bands of Maskwacis, a Treaty 6 Nation. He says that as a youth he was often sent to his room by his parents, where he practised drawing to help pass the hours of solitude. “My artwork was putting inner feelings into image form. It was also a release of inner emotions on to paper in a constructive way.” Simon says that for a number of years his drawings were black and white, which reflected how he felt about life. Now he has moved on to working with acrylics and oils. “I find life more colourful now.”



“In the areas of curriculum and research, we are directly responding to the Calls to Action.” — John Fischer Iniskim Centre Director

John Fischer is director of the Iniskim Centre and a member of the Indigenous Strategy Steering Committee. He and his family are Cree and members of the Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan. Fischer says indigenization at Mount Royal begins with examining curriculum, research and student supports, as defined by Universities Canada and in response to the TRC directives. “In the areas of curriculum and research, we are directly responding to the Calls to Action. In the Indigenous strategy, activities include educating future social workers and teachers, increasing awareness and understanding among all students and staff and advancing Indigenous ways of knowing.” Mount Royal recently secured an Indigenous Studies Tier Two Canada Research Chair from the federal government through an intensely competitive process — a strong signal of the quality of the research being done. The chair comes with funding of $100,000 per year for seven years, which will provide for a fulltime position leading Indigenous research efforts. Mount Royal students can already pursue a minor in Indigenous Studies, as well as choose from dozens of classes focused on Canada’s and North America’s First Nations. The University also offers two popular field studies. The Treaty 7 Travel Study includes visits to significant sites, such as Blackfoot Crossing, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump and Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park. The Community Service Learning Field School in Nunavut sees criminal justice students

work with the RCMP, service agencies and community centres on regional issues. As Fischer explains, “Curriculum is not only a window: it’s also a mirror.” To further indigenize the curriculum, a unique collaborative process has been embarked upon. In the summer, 40 people participated in a three-day residency focused on Indigenous curriculum development. The group was split evenly between representatives of the Treaty 7 Nations and representatives of all of Mount Royal’s faculties. “We didn’t come with an agenda; we didn’t come with courses that we were asking the community to approve,” says Haggarty. “We just came with the question of how to teach Indigenous topics. And how can we do this in a way that supports projects that are happening in Indigenous communities and that contributes to their priorities right now?” This question is integral to Haggarty because he believes indigenization must align with the needs and goals of Indigenous communities, instead of universities thinking they know what is best. The other key point for him is a recognition that we are all heirs of Treaty 7. “It’s how we came to be here. We don’t have a right to be here without it,” Haggarty says. “And as a publicly funded institution, we have a responsibility to live up to our obligations.”



“There’s a whole generation reclaiming their traditions and making them their own.” — Michelle Fournie Recruitment Officer, Enrolment Services

Unwinding over a century of colonized education is just the start of an extensive and necessary journey. While there are concrete targets to increase the number of Indigenous students and ensure their success through to graduation, many other parts of the Indigenous Strategic Plan leave room to learn and to grow. The plan is set to play out over the next five years, however, true reconciliation will take many more than that. “The beautiful part of the collaborative process that we’re engaged in is that we don’t actually know what our final goals are. We don’t have really finite or fixed ideas for outcomes at this point,” says Haggarty. For Fournie, it’s finding a more contemporary symbolism for Métis people. “There’s a whole generation reclaiming their traditions and making them their own,” she says. Heavy Runner, who is currently writing about her experiences, is optimistic. “There is a lot of hope for the future ... for Mount Royal. This is a very big thing! I know I’ll be embracing it with open arms.” This is a long story that is not finished yet. Because it’s being told by the people within it.

Mount Royal’s hub for its indigenization strategy and Indigenous students is at



ACES HIGH Mount Royal Aviation diploma grads can be found all over the world, flying all shapes and sizes of aircraft for a number of different reasons. But for a handful of hard-working and talented alumni, their careers reached their pinnacles when they earned the right to fly with Canada’s elite precision flying team, the Snowbirds. WORDS BY DAVE McLEAN PHOTOGRAPHY BY MICHAL WAISSMANN



L E A R N I N G T O F LY Since 1970, more than 1,200 pilots have graduated from the Aviation program at Mount Royal. For current Chair Leon Cygman, it’s no surprise many of them have gone on to military flying careers. “Our graduates have taken jobs in commercial aviation and worked their way up to regional, national and international carriers, but the Snowbirds are the best of the best. “It is a testament to our program that a handful of our graduates have made it to that level.” While the military’s demand for aviators has ebbed and flowed over the years, in the mid-’90s the Canadian Armed Forces paved a path for young pilots to pursue their dreams of elite flight. Several flying colleges across the country — including Mount Royal — offered the starting point. Students could apply for the military and if they were successful, the fees for their second year of aviation school were covered. Mount Royal graduates earn a Canadian commercial pilot licence with night, multi-engine and instrument accreditation. In the ‘90s, the new military officers of the contingent could then bypass primary flying training and move directly on to jet training at 15 Wing Moose Jaw, also home of the Snowbirds. Blakely initially discovered flying through the Royal Canadian Air Cadets, getting aloft in gliders and then achieving his pilot’s licence while still in high school. Although he tried a stint at the University of Alberta, he says that,“ studying for the sake of studying,” did not appeal to him. At the urging of a friend, he enrolled at Mount Royal. Timing was everything for Blakely and many other Mount Royal graduates who ended up in the military. Blakely reached the “best of the best” status when he was invited to join the Snowbirds in 2003. Not everyone who’s invited to try out for the team makes it, but he did. Training is rigorous and involves a



degree of precision flying that most pilots can’t dream about, let alone perform. Without the aid of computers or complex electronics, it is all eyes, hands and feet. “I have never been so highly trained and proficient at anything in my life,” says Blakely. “The experience can teach you a lot about yourself and a lot about other people.” Capt. Greg Mendes’ approach to learning to fly was an ambitious one. While studying for his Bachelor of Science at the University of Calgary, he scheduled science classes and flying lessons on opposite days so he could fit in both. “I’d bounce back and forth between the University (of Calgary) and (Mount Royal) College, and was also driving out to Springbank to do my flying. “I was able to complete the two-year diploma and the last year of my degree simultaneously.” Mendes served four tours in Afghanistan as a Hercules transport pilot before getting the call to become Snowbird 10, the show’s safety pilot and narrator, for two seasons in 2014 and 2015. For Bandet, flying with the Snowbirds was never his goal, nor did it seem within reach. He says, “The experience that the team required seemed unattainable.” Yet, with the encouragement of one of his former instructors, he took another look. “What impressed me the most was how everyone worked in perfect sync. The entire team — from the maintainers to the team lead — were 100 per cent professional and personable. “I was hooked and from that point on, I knew that I wanted to fly with them.” In 2011, Bandet was honoured to be added to the team, flying for three seasons before stepping down to return to being a fighter pilot.

THE LITTLE P L A N E T H AT CAN…AND DOES CT-114 TUTO R Crew: 2 Length: 9.75 m Wingspan: 11.12 m Height: 2.84 m Empty weight: 2,575 kg Power: General Electric J85-CAN-40 turbo jet Thrust: Reaches 5,500 metres in less than six minutes and can do sustained 2G turns at 7,600 metres Maximum speed: 741 km/h Range: 648 km Service ceiling: 11,850 m Data from

Flying in a nine-aircraft aerobatic team in the CT-114 Tutor, a small, subsonic jet trainer, at speeds of up to 590 km/h, often only 1.2 metres apart, requires high standards, extreme attention to detail and, of course, nerves of steel. “The Tutor is a wonderful aircraft,” says Mendes. Bandet agrees, adding, “Who knew that a jet that was designed with a slide rule would still be flying today?” Getting old even by aviation standards, the Tutor was designed and built in Canada in the 1960s. The jet was last manufactured in 1966 and retired from training service in 2000, leaving only a handful left to supply the Snowbirds. Despite this, the accidents the team has experienced have had little to do with the serviceability of the aircraft. Maintenance crew fly to each show with their assigned pilots. It is their job to squeeze

Canada has only 22 CT-114 Tutor aircraft left in its fleet, with the last few manufactured in 1966. Without the aid of computers and complex electronics, the Snowbirds fly using their eyes, hands and feet.

every last flying minute out of each part. According to the commanding officer of the Snowbirds, Lt. Col. Brad Wintrup (whose call sign is “Squid”), engineering work needs to be done to extend the life of the remaining 22 Tutors in Canada’s fleet to potentially reach 2025 or 2030. “In the meantime, the aircraft has an expiration date of 2020,” he says. Until then, resting on the Tutor’s stout, 11-metre wingspan is the pride of a nation. “One only needs to stand on Parliament Hill on Canada Day and breathe in the national pride when the Snowbirds fly over to understand,” says Blakely.



ABOUT OUR ALUMNI M a j . D e n i s “ Yu ri ” B a n d e t Av i a t i o n d i p l o m a 19 9 7 S n o w b i r d s 2 011-2 01 3 C u r r e n t l y : D e p u t y C o m m a n d i n g O f f i c e r, 4 0 9 Ta c t i c a l F i g h t e r S q u a d r o n , 4 W i n g C o l d L a k e

M a j . C o r y B l a ke l y (r e t i r e d ) Av i a t i o n d i p l o m a 19 91 S n o w b i r d s 2 0 0 4 -2 0 0 7 Currently: Air Canada Pilot

C a p t . C h a r l e s “ Ch u c k ” M a l l e t t (r e t i r e d ) Av i a t i o n d i p l o m a 19 95 S n o w b i r d s 2 0 0 3 -2 0 05 C u r r e n t l y : We s t J e t P i l o t

C a p t . G r e g o r y “ Co c o” M e n d e s Av i a t i o n d i p l o m a 19 9 8 S n o w b i r d s 2 014 -2 01 5 Currently: Safet y Pilot, C F -18 D e m o n s t r a t i o n Te a m












From extreme wildfires to floods and hailstorms, the province has been belted by some of the most costly weather events in the country’s history — many in recent memory. The trend doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon. Whether we like it or not, our communities must be ready for the next proverbial “Big One.” Mount Royal University’s Centre for Community Disaster Research is leading the way in understanding the social impact of these catastrophic events.






PHOTO BY NEIL ZELLER Storm over Mount Royal University, August 2016


ne week after the hellacious wildfire known as “The Beast” began its rampage through Fort McMurray, a call for help landed in sociologist Tim Haney’s inbox. It was 3 a.m. The message was from the Emergency Social Services Network of Alberta. Experts with the volunteer group were busy with the on-the-ground response and they needed advice on getting more than 80,000 evacuees safely back into their fire-stricken city. Although it took a month before the first displaced residents were finally able to return home, re-entry planning was an early concern. In Calgary, Haney had hours, not days, to draft a report on the massive undertaking as emergency managers focused on the danger zone some 750 kilometres away. He immediately turned to his colleagues at Mount Royal University’s Centre for Community Disaster Research (CCDR) for their collective expertise. The centre, which operates under Haney’s directorship, is a hub for research, education and outreach related to disasters of all stripes. After the email arrived, Haney hurriedly assembled a team of nine faculty affiliates that included authorities in psychology, nursing and child well-being. Half a dozen research assistants also hunkered down in an office on campus. Within hours, the team drafted a best practices guide. “I didn’t know we could mobilize that many bodies in one day,” says Haney, PhD. “We did it — somehow.” The wide-ranging report made recommendations designed to reduce trauma while preserving family ties and providing essential mental health supports. In some cases, it presented a balanced range of opinions. For instance, the researchers outlined both the pros and cons of a peer-support model in which those impacted by the disaster could be paired up with neighbours who were not affected. As chair of the Emergency Social Services Network of Alberta, Scott Cameron was part of the team working around the clock in Fort McMurray. Cameron recalled receiving the final report from the Mount Royal group in response to his call for assistance. “It was unbelievable,” he says. “We made about half a dozen copies right away. “People grabbed it, they found a corner to sit in and they read it for the next hour.”



The report ended up in the hands of Darby Allen, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo fire chief who became an instant folk hero for leading the historic fire fight. According to Cameron, it was the “catalyst” for the formation of a multi-disciplinary team that included Allen, as well as senior officials from social services, planning and logistics, health, communications and local government. “We needed everyone working together on re-entry planning,” Cameron says. “Darby heard the message and he said ‘perfect.’”

DISASTERS GIVE RISE TO RESEARCH CENTRE The tragedy in Fort McMurray is the country’s single most expensive insured natural disaster, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC). Insurance companies found themselves on the hook for an estimated $3.6 billion in damages, and that’s not counting the uninsured losses. The blaze hammered provincial coffers to the tune of $500 million. And the 2016 wildfires are only the latest in a string of severe weather events to strike Alberta. Earlier this year, the IBC reported that seven of the 10 most costly disasters in Canadian history have occurred in Wild Rose Country. These include the southern Alberta floods of 2013, the Slave Lake fire of 2011 and a series of extreme thunder and hailstorms clustered in and around Calgary. In the aftermath of the recent destruction in Fort McMurray, the industry group branded Alberta as the “natural disaster capital of Canada.” “As a country, we need to take a more disciplined and sustained approach to helping prepare Canadians for fires and floods,” Don Forgeron, head of the IBC, said in a statement. “We must build a more resilient country to better protect those affected by the very real impacts of our changing climate.” Haney, too, sees massive potential for growth in the field of disaster research, given the increasingly unpredictable effects of climate change and the large number of people living in disaster-prone zones. “Globally, disasters are on the uptick in terms of economic losses and the number of people affected,” he says. “That means we’re doing the right work at the right place at the right time. “However, it’s unfortunate that disaster happens to be a growth industry.”


Tim Haney Director, Centre for Community Disaster Research, Mount Royal University

Haney holds a deeply personal connection to catastrophic weather events. His wedding day was interrupted by a tornado that hit Wisconsin. Then, as a grad student at Tulane University in New Orleans, he was forced to flee the city before Hurricane Katrina tore across the Gulf of Mexico. In 2013, Haney was a relatively new Calgarian during the epic floods, which complicated the arrival of his first child.

CCDR CONDUCTING INNOVATIVE RESEARCH MRU’s Centre for Community Disaster Research currently supports 11 research projects. Here’s a glimpse at what the think-tank is working on right now. CONNECTING FIRES WITH FLOODS What can one disaster-affected community learn from another? That’s one of the central questions in a study of resiliency among High River and Fort McMurray children and youth who have the support of social services. Caroline McDonald-Harker, PhD, Mount Royal University — along with Julie Drolet, PhD, University of Calgary and Robin Cox, PhD, Royal Roads University SAVING OUR FURRY FRIENDS Through interviews with pet owners, first responders and animal rescue organizations, this research looks to create a province wide best practices guide for rescuing pets from community disasters. Kimberly A. Williams, PhD, Mount Royal University SHARING STORIES OF REBUILDING This science-communication project is aimed at relating stories about how people cope with the loss of their physical surroundings in the natural world from a personal and scientific perspective. Sarah Hewitt, PhD, Mount Royal University PREPARING YOUTH FOR NATURAL DISASTER Two outreach programs are being designed to prepare the students of Calgary high schools and elementary schools for natural disasters — both in the city and when travelling. A Calgary-area high school piloted the program in September 2016. Katherine Boggs, PhD, Mount Royal University

PHOTO BY REUTERS/ANDY CLARK Calgarians show the results of cleaning up their homes following the severe flooding of the Bow and Elbow rivers, June 24, 2013

PHOTO COURTESY OF ALBERTA RCMP/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS A Mountie surveys the damage on a street in Fort McMurray, May 4, 2016





In the wake of the monstrous wildfire that forced the evacuation of Alberta’s third-largest settlement, Mount Royal University opened its doors to the people of Wood Buffalo. Working in coordination with the Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA), the campus welcomed hundreds of displaced residents. Most of the guests were members of young families, who found the University’s self-contained residence units an ideal fit for their needs.


Maximum number of Fort McMurray and area guests staying on Mount Royal’s campus at any one time


Rooms cleaned immediately before and shortly after Mount Royal was named a reception centre for displaced residents


Cots added to dormitory facilities at the height of the fire response


Meals served by Dana Hospitality LP between May 8 and June 30 — all after the last day of classes of the winter semester


Estimated per cent of guests who requested halal meat

Families ate meals together, explored the campus and burned off energy with free access to the gym facilities. Guests were also invited to use the Library, get complimentary stress-relieving massages from students and check out performances at the world-class Taylor Centre for the Performing Arts. CEMA Chief Tom Sampson describes the accommodations as “second to none.” “Staff made the difference,” Sampson says. “The Palliser (hotel) would be pleased

5,450 kg

Combined weight of potatoes and rice prepared over almost eight weeks


Days that one couple occupied a residence on campus, the longest of any stay

to have staff with that attitude. It highlights the qualities and values that are essential to our city,” he adds. Asked whether the temporary housing partnership between Mount Royal and the City of Calgary is a model for the future, Sampson didn’t hesitate to further praise the staff of Residence Services and Food Services.“You’re not only capable of doing it, you had a swift response,” he says. “It is a testimony to your profession that you can do it.”


Zachary Cox Recovery Management Consultant, IBM

Cox is a Bachelor of Arts — Sociology graduate of Mount Royal University and earned his Master of Arts in Disaster and Emergency Management from Royal Roads University.

RESEARCHING RUIN The CCDR opened in 2014, borne out of an urgent need to boost understanding of disasters in a local context, which in turn aids long-term disaster recovery efforts. The centre came into being shortly after Alberta’s super flood, thanks to seed funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the Calgary Foundation’s New Initiatives Program. Celebrating its official two-year anniversary in September 2016, the CCDR supports community-engaged research, service-learning opportunities and educational seminars. Researchers associated with the think-tank are responsible for landing some of the largest funding grants in Mount Royal’s history, including a $1 million for research from Alberta Innovates — Health Solutions. The funding provides for a threeyear post-disaster resiliency study titled, “Alberta Resilient Communities (ARC) Research Project: Engaging Children and Youth in Community Resilience Post-Flood in Southern Alberta,” by faculty affiliates Caroline McDonald-Harker of Mount Royal, Julie Drolet of the University of Calgary and Robin Cox of Royal Roads University. Jeff Keshen, dean of the Faculty of Arts at Mount Royal and one of the driving forces behind the creation of the CCDR, credited faculty members and student researchers for responding to the province’s needs in a time of increased natural calamity. “It is a centrepiece for Mount Royal University,” says Keshen, PhD. “There’s nothing like it in Alberta — and next to nothing like it in Canada.” While the United States enjoys a long history of funding disaster research at academic institutions dating back to the Cold War era, the concept is still gaining traction north of the 49 th parallel. The proliferation of such centres relies on independent funding. Still, there are a few notable disaster research centres with academic ties. York University in north Toronto hosts the Disaster and Emergency Management Lab, while the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction is affiliated with Western University. In Western Canada, Royal Roads University in Victoria opened the ResiliencebyDesign Research Lab in July 2015. There is also the Centre for Natural Hazard Research at Simon Fraser University, which concentrates on the physical sciences. Mount Royal’s research centre focuses on people, families and communities. The CCDR distinguishes itself through the breadth and depth of the projects currently underway.

THE FUTURE OF DISASTER RESEARCH When the next disaster strikes, it could be a Mount Royal University student or graduate working on the front lines. It starts in the classroom. The CCDR has identified 15 degree courses at Mount Royal related to disasters, many of which are taught by faculty affiliates. This is in addition to a certificate program offered through Mount Royal’s Faculty of Continuing Education and Extension. The Centre creates opportunities for students through research projects, disaster field schools and industry connections. Inspired by what she learned in Haney’s Sociology of Disaster course in 2013, Melanie Putic signed up to volunteer with a local chapter of the Red Cross. Only months later, Putic was working in the midst of Calgary’s worst natural disaster in modern times. During that historic flood, she helped the Red Cross manage an evacuation centre at the Southland Leisure Centre. For Putic, seeing how some disadvantaged Calgarians were hit harder than others was an eye-opening experience. “It was a very difficult time for Calgary,” she says. “For me, it happened to be an incredible experience managing a shelter.” After graduating in 2014, Putic continued her studies at the United Nations-mandated University for Peace in Costa Rica. After completing her master’s degree, Putic took a temporary position in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs at the United Nations’ official headquarters in New York. She worked on files related to drought in the Middle East and sea levels rising due to climate change. “It allowed me to see behind the scenes at the highest levels of international development,” she says. There are many career paths for graduates interested in emergency management. Mount Royal alumnus Zachary Cox now works as a recovery management consultant at IBM. When there’s a disaster anywhere in Canada, it’s Cox’s job to ensure his clients, such as major banks and insurance companies, continue to operate. For Cox, it all started with a field school trip to New Orleans in 2013 to learn about the recovery from both Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster. It’s a memory he draws upon when asked what’s special about the CCDR. “They bring students into the fold,” says Cox. “They make disaster exciting, accessible and viable as a career. The opportunity is there.” MRU.CA/SUMMIT



Rare are the breeds that house an innate obligation to go against the grain, to take risks, to create new perspectives and to disrupt accepted norms. They aren’t shooting for the top: they’re shooting for the moon. As far back as human history goes, there have been those whose innovation has undeniably changed the world. From the simple wheel, to the printing press, to electricity, to the Internet to the iPhone — we’ve come a long way. There’s no arguing that the ingenuity of a few has changed the trajectory of the world as we know it, and all of these revolutionary disruptions started at one point as a moonshot. Make no mistake: moonshots are dangerous — much akin to the turbulent plight of space missions in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Before the famous Luna 2 landing in September 1959, there were many failures. But when lunar impact was finally made, everything that was only previously imagined became reality.



T HE L AUNCH Speaking of moonshots in a business context, Ray DePaul, director of Mount Royal’s Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, says, “A moonshot targets making a 10-times improvement rather than simply a 10 per cent improvement.” DePaul was part of a moonshot that would become BlackBerry, one of Canada’s most successful tech ventures. “Google popularized the term and has embarked on a series of moonshots, including the autonomous vehicle, balloons that will bring the Internet to the entire world and contact lenses with an embedded glucose sensor for diabetes,” says DePaul. Clayton Christensen, a Harvard Business School professor, initiated and popularized the notion of disruption in business with his 1997 book, The Innovator’s Dilemma, by separating technologies into two groups: sustaining — those that make incremental improvements on something existing, and disruptive — those that provide an entirely new or different value proposition. If you look around, you’ll see systems, infrastructure, products and processes all existing in a certain way. And in many cases, it’s simply because that’s the way it’s always been done. Although not every moonshot aims to have the intergalactic impact of the Hubble Space Telescope, these entrepreneurial Mount Royal alumni see opportunity in challenging the status quo, have their eyes to the sky and are not afraid to take their shots.

Buckle your seatbelt. It’s always a bumpy ride as the weight of the risk involved in the launch of a new venture sets in. Resources are stretched thin ­­— personal, financial and otherwise — ­­ but hopefully the right corners have been cut to keep it lean. Weeks, months, maybe even years are invested leading up to this day, and feeling like David staring down Goliath, thrusters are cued, lucky stars are picked and the switch is flipped. Recent Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) grad Stephen Neish, along with his partners, helicopter pilots, Rob Rotzetter and Rob Neish (Stephen’s cousin) recently propelled AccuEye Aerial Surveys (AS) into the market. The pair of pilots felt that the skills they learned on the job and in the classroom could expand the atmosphere of traditional aviation services and create disruption in their own industry. They partnered with Neish to develop a business that could ultimately render their current careers obsolete. Neish is capitalizing on his Mount Royal education and previous sales and entrepreneurship experience to develop a business model that could help to provide buoyancy to an ailing oil and gas industry with a prudent and safe alternative to manned aerial pipeline monitoring. The trio is also eyeing market share in aerial surveying in the real estate, agriculture, resource sector, firefighting and search and rescue industries.




3 hours of flight time travelling at 80 km/h

T HE DRONE… The (currently part-time) venture for AccuEye AS is a new business assembled around a custom-built umanned aerial vehicle (UAV) equipped with optical and thermal sensors, and guided by GPS waypoints over pre-programmed routes that can cover 18.5 square kilometres (4,500 acres) in a single flight. The value proposition for AccuEye AS is that the UAV is manned by trained pilots on the ground. It is a much safer and more cost-effective alternative in a highly regulated arena. While commercial applications for drones are still in their infancy, recreational “droners” are testing the limits and driving regulatory development. With safety at the forefront of Transport Canada’s agenda, commercial drone applications are still working to carve out their niche. This has led the AccuEye AS team to eye opportunities abroad in the meantime. For Neish, the entrepreneurship classes he took as part of his General Education requirements for his BBA were inspirational to his risk-taking spirit, and caused disruption in his own educational pursuits. “From then on I knew I could no longer be an accountant.” Neish continues to push AccuEye AS into orbit, as it is, at the moment, still in its early stages. “Currently, working to get AccuEye AS off the ground is sort of my hobby,” explains Neish of his startup. ”But my dream job is to make my living from my hobby.”

Covers up to 18.5 square

10 foot wingspan

kilometres (4500 acres)

and 5 foot length

in a single flight

Capable of operating in wind speeds up 42.4MP, 35mm,

to 80 km/h

Exmor R CMOS sensor

Provides 327,680 pixels of dynamic thermal imaging

Stephen Neish co-creator of AccuEye AS



BRE A K ING IN T O ORBI T With the first 100 kilometres down, the launchpad is still in sight but the atmosphere is getting thinner. The blackness of space blots out the blue skies and the risks of gravitational pull causing a crash and burn is dissipating. Ground control, watching the progress, starts to appreciate the viability of the endeavour and offers its support. For alumnus Andrew Browne, Mount Royal’s entrepreneurship offerings were the then unbeknownst takeoff point for his tech startup TikTiks — an app positioned to disrupt the secondary ticketing market as we know it. As Browne progressed through his BBA, his electives began to be populated with entrepreneurship classes. He recalls the turning point in his career aspirations as the Society, Innovation and Enterprise class he took (which he still is able to remember the 3370 course code for), which caused him to declare entrepreneurship as his official minor. “The class changed the way I looked at university. It expanded my thoughts and my mind and created opportunities for me,” says Browne.

“I met Ray DePaul in my final year, who got me into the Student Entrepreneur in Residence role. That evolved into a parttime job with Startup Calgary that eventually started consuming my spare time. At one of the 90-plus events we held over that year was where I met Johnny.” Browne and his business partner Johnny Tran became acquainted at a Startup Calgary event (circa 2013). They instantly bonded over mutual passions for technology and the Calgary Flames. The duo later became a trio when Brendan Koch, Mount Royal alumnus of the Bachelor of Computer Information Systems program, came on as chief technology officer. “In talking to Johnny, it came out that he was a long-time season ticket holder and had started a Facebook group to connect season ticket holders with Flames fans to resell tickets,” explains Browne. “After monitoring the activity and how people interacted through the group, we figured we could build something simple that did the same thing, but allowed users to complete the transaction securely.”

For newbies to the ticketing arena, this is where things get a bit complicated. The secondary ticket market — estimated to be worth billions in North America alone — is an unintended function of how tickets flow between the value creator, such as the sports franchise or performer, to the ultimate “bum-in-seat” fan attending the event. According to a new report from Technavio, the market is expected to grow in value by $8.94 billion from 2015 to 2020, to reach a total value of $15.19 billion. Over the last 10 years, ticket brokering has evolved from scalpers lurking outside stadiums to multimillion-dollar businesses that buy and sit on a massive ticket inventory until the optimal time to sell.

Andrew Browne co-creator of TikTiks



“ I s ee oppor tunit y in ever y thing and I think that def ines entrepreneur s. ” — A n dr ew Br ow n e

This thorn in the market’s side starts with Ticketmaster, which has masterfully captured the primary market share over the past 25 years by creating contracts with clients that solidly places it as the sole gatekeeper to events. This relationship created the secondary market. Ticketmaster pays the value creators up front for the tickets. But they have no interest in sitting on their inventory as do those in the often unfair secondary market. So, they sell tickets to fans and corporations, but also to ticket brokers whose business relies on holding on to inventory until they can sell for a markup. What most people don’t realize is that between 25 to 50 per cent of all tickets sold for live events are resold multiple times before they are used. None of the revenue or transactional data is made available to the true value creators: teams, leagues, venues and artists. TikTiks creates a social ticketing marketplace that works like an escrow service. It allows sports fans to exchange tickets without the burden of listing through free online classifieds — like Kijiji — and having to arrange in-person meetings, or risk a digital transaction, or pay excessive fees to post them on for-profit ticketing sites. With TikTiks, those selling at or below face value incur no charge, and nominal fees are charged to the buyer, creating transactional revenue.

Brendan Koch chief technology officer at TikTiks



If you and your friends make a last-minute decision to go watch a game, you can buy five tickets at 3 p.m. for the game at 7 p.m. through the TikTiks app. You can pay the seller, send the tickets to your friends and collect their money all through your smartphone. Sayonara printed tickets. Inherently disruptive to the existing ticketing market, while also finding its place within it, TikTiks addresses a current gap in data collection that is lost in the ether of the secondary market. Fewer than one in 10 of the people who show up actually purchased from the primary market and provided the data that created their customer profile. By having a platform that incorporates user profiles, TikTiks can effectively track the flow of tickets from the original sale to the actual seat occupant at the event. This creates an additional revenue stream for TikTiks as brokers and value creators are willing to pay for accurate customer data. TikTiks recently moved out of Assembly Coworking Space in Kensington, and is now co-located with development partner Aquanode Interactive in Calgary’s northeast. As TikTiks 2.0 is set to launch this fall, the company is setting a lofty goal of growing its current 3,000 users to 100,000, with $1 million in ticket transactions. This quest for success comes with new grant funding and a commendable tranche of private investment, achieved in part through the credibility and resources brought to their advisory board by Mount Royal’s DePaul and adjunct professor Evan Hu. By tying ticketing to the fan experience, TikTiks has started to explore other valueadded roles of the app, including partnering with local bars and restaurants to incentivize transactions and creating the ability for corporate ticket holders to track the dispersion of tickets to realize write offs and ultimately reconnect the value creator with the fan. “Sure, it’s a moonshot. So, there is no right or wrong,” says Browne. “But, I see opportunity in everything and I think that defines entrepreneurs. Instead of sitting around ‘waiting until oil goes back up,’ I see huge opportunity for us as Albertans to build the world we want to live in.”

CRE AT ING SOCIE TA L IMPAC T The stars have aligned. The landing was a success. A flag bearing a business logo now sits firmly planted on the lunar surface for all to see. It’s a great view. Broadcasting diploma alumnus and local start-up veteran Garth Johnson is no stranger to moonshots, having been part of a couple notable undertakings that made it — big time. He was a member of the team that built iStock Photo in 2005 before its sale to Getty Images in early 2006 for $50 million US. “iStock Photo was all about disruption,” says Johnson. “We grew the company from $12 million to $200 million-plus over a couple years. There was an existing market for stock photography, which was very highly priced by the sellers, and restrictive for artists to get into. My colleague and I always said, ‘We democratized photography.’ And, lots of people in industry even said publicly we would never make it and wouldn’t survive. We literally turned that industry on its head.” After the sale to Getty, Johnson wasn’t done with the stock photo business and bought into, and became a part of, a competitor at the time, Fotolia, which went on to be purchased by Adobe in a $800 million US all-cash deal in late 2014. Johnson says he developed his unique approach through the television writing and production, copy editing and market research skills learned during his days at what was then Mount Royal College. He credits his instructors at the time, Darrel Janz, Paul Dunphy and Gail Montgomery, for the real-life, hands-on experience they brought to the classroom. After graduation Johnson went on to pay his dues in a small market in a northern British Columbia television studio, where the

Garth Johnson creator of Meticulon

jack-of-all-trades nature of the work helped shape his character as an entrepreneur. “In terms of what I’m trying to do now, it’s just a continuation of my whole career path. I’ve always been a self-starter. I enjoy making things, creating things, building things and doing it my own way. This new venture is the first in 15 years outside of media.” Johnson’s latest undertaking, Meticulon, is a social moonshot aimed at disrupting common misconceptions around people with autism. He wanted to step into a new sort of business that would fit in with both his personal and professional life. Having a son with intellectual disabilities led Johnson to get heavily involved in the disability community, and through that he became familiar with champions for those with autism.



Although his son does not have autism, it was thought for a time that he did fall somewhere on the spectrum. According to Autism Speaks Canada, it’s estimated that about 400,000 children in Canada are autistic, or 1 in 68. But Johnson thinks that number is much higher. Meticulon specializes in quality assurance, software testing and data management services. But, here’s the differentiator. All of the consultants that he employs are people with autism. “Even looking back at some of the tech startup failures I was a part of, and even at iStock, there were people working that were part of the spectrum that also fit that web 2.0 culture — more like Sheldon from ‘Big Bang Theory’ than ‘Rain Man.’ “I mean, we’re all a bit geeky, and I would argue that most people in tech fall somewhere on the autism spectrum, myself included,” says Johnson with a smile. Johnson recalls seeing a few of these people leave his companies and not succeed in corporate Canada. Although they were amazingly gifted, they were often socially challenged — just because of a different way of seeing the world. Johnson describes high-functioning autism as almost another culture rather than a condition. “Change is difficult for some. Some struggle with social cues. Many need similar numbers of accommodations in the workplace as you or I, just different,” explains Johnson.



“ A ll in all, business es ma y hire us to do good, but they keep us becaus e we are good. ”

— M e t i cul o n we b s i t e

“For example, a social accommodation would be, don’t say ‘How are you?’ if you are trying to say ‘Good morning and let’s get to work,’ as some of our people would take that completely literally and want to explain at length how they’re doing. Or, perhaps not keying in on social cues if someone repeatedly starts looking at their watch mid-conversation.” Meticulon provides pre-employment and on-the-job support to employees and employers to ensure a mutually successful relationship, and success is where the disruption comes in. Johnson notes that most of his employees are up to 50 per cent more efficient than typical employees in the workplace. And, this is achieved by using what could be seen as disabilities in other settings as talents. Meticulon consultants, because of their autism, have natural abilities that make them better at tasks requiring attention to detail and critical thinking. These innate skills cause the consultants to excel in software testing and quality assurance roles. Experience has also shown that Meticulon employees are among the most honest, loyal and committed people a business could ever employ, reducing turnover and training costs significantly. “All in all, businesses may hire us to do good, but they keep us because we are good,” reads the company’s website. And, the employees are paid in parity with what a typically-abled employee in the same job would make. “We’re building a brand around excellence, not autism,” says Johnson. “We’re a software company that happens to employ people with autism.”


Garth Johnson


Although registered as a charity, Johnson is quick to reinforce the fact that his business is structured to be profitable and meet both a business and a social need, and that social enterprises that simply aim to perform a good deed usually fail. Having generated meaningful revenues and cash flow to grow the business in the first couple years, Johnson’s victory lap moonshot seems destined for another impact. A social investment study by Meticulon indicated that every $1 invested created the equivalent of $2.64 net return to the economy. They have also made their model “opensource,” allowing others to use tools they’ve developed and adapt their business model in other areas. “What we’re trying to do is disrupt and force a new evolution of thinking,” says Johnson. “Whether Meticulon lives or dies is irrelevant. What we’re doing is creating a tipping point for seeing autism as an advantage, not a disability.”

Neish, Browne and Johnson are all experts at charting paths, identifying patterns and creating opportunity — not waiting for it to come to them. They may all be at different stages of their orbit, but each is not entirely different from the other. They all provide a new or different value proposition to the marketplace, which is the very essence of innovation. Instead of exploring known horizons, they discover new ones. And it’s through ventures such as theirs that real impact is made and from which progress is piloted.

Andrew Browne

Stephen Neish

16 11 8 5.6


2.8 1.4
















Mount Royal alumni Ryan Varty, Melissa Renwick and Jeremy Hunka have taken their camera skills to all four corners of the earth, delivering the stuff people really want to see. They entertain, earn awards, trigger change and shift perspectives along the way.

“Irv told us the CBC was offering two practicum positions and asked us if we wanted them.” They leapt at the chance and Varty says the CBC was the best place to hone his craft in the late ‘90s. “I targeted those guys because of the talent they had demonstrated,” says Ratushniak. With TSN since 2013, Varty admits that the World Junior Hockey Championships were on his radar as something he really wanted to take part in. In his youth, he recalls getting up early each Boxing Day to watch the tournament. Even for this seasoned veteran, the experience was an overwhelming whirlwind. “You have to pull yourself back sometimes,” says Varty. “Take the time to realize you are actually here. CAMERAMAN, TSN SPORTS This is the World Juniors! “But at the same time, you look back after the fact TSN cameraman Ryan Varty is responsible for delivering highlights from premier and it all hits you.” sporting events to Canadians from coast to coast. It’s a job that requires flying in Although in 2015 the group of under-20 Canadians excess of 110,000 kilometres and sleeping in hotels for more than a third of the may have disappointed many with their performance calendar year. on the ice, millions still tuned in each day, unknowingly Varty, or “Varts” as he’s known to colleagues in the sports media fraternity, watching Varty’s work. has been working behind the lens as “I try not to think about it. If you think about a respected camera operator for the it too much, that’s when you mess up.” past 18 years. Delivering the visuals for Not only did he not “mess up,” he earned North America’s most prominent sports a call to cover the NBA Eastern Conference competitions, Varty has filmed the green Finals, which set a ratings record for TSN jacket presentation at Augusta for the with 2.7 million Canadians tuning in for the Masters, and was on the floor seconds contest’s fourth quarter. Following that, Varty after the buzzer-beater shot at the NCAA’s packed up his equipment and continued his (National Collegiate Athletic Association) journey of delivering some of the world’s Final Four Championship. most popular television content to avid He credits the hands-on technical viewers. Next up were the NBA Finals, learning and mentorship he received in the which saw 44 million Americans tune in Mount Royal Broadcasting diploma program to Game 7. for getting him to where he is today. Thirsty Even though he does try to take a moment Ryan Varty, Broadcasting diploma graduate for knowledge and experience, a vital to soak in the incredible experiences, he says link to his eventual success came from the professionalism he learned at Mount former instructor (and also an alumnus of Royal allows him to keep his concentration. the Broadcasting diploma program), Irv Ratushniak recalls Varty as a keen Ratushniak. Varty and fellow student Pete student; one he looked forward to teaching. Stewart, who is now the control room “He obviously loves what he’s doing. manager for the Calgary Flames, were I hope that was sparked when he was walking down Mount Royal’s Main Street taking the program,” says Ratushniak. when Ratushniak stopped them with “He was always willing to work hard and — Ryan Varty an opportunity. help out with any of the production (tasks).” “Everyone thinks they are going to get out of school and work a cool job,” says PHOTO BY RYAN VARTY Varty, “but it doesn’t work like that. Put in the time, keep learning and be good to people. With 18 years in the business, Varty has delivered to millions of Canadians “I don’t know where my career would have ended up coverage from the world’s biggest sporting events. Ohio sports fans waited 52 years for LeBron James to bring an NBA championship to Cleveland if I didn’t have that conversation with Irv.”


“I try not to think about it. If you think about it too much, that’s when you mess up.”





“I just feel incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to tell stories like these, because hopefully it inspires some change.”

As a staff photographer for the Toronto Star, Melissa Renwick snaps pictures that are seen by more than a million eyeballs every day. In her time with Canada’s most-read newspaper, Renwick has completed a dizzying number of assignments that have taken her — Melissa Renwick from One Yonge Street all the way to Bangladesh. A graduate of Mount Royal’s Bachelor of Communication — Journalism program, one of Renwick’s “Readers crave information and insight into people’s lives,” he says. “For first major pieces was a chilling look at Toronto’s criminal all of the information available on the web, readers still need clear, precise and underworld. Branded “The Game,” Renwick and her unbiased glimpses into the darker side of our society.” colleagues investigated and documented sex crimes Coates describes his former pupil as relentlessly driven to tell compelling stories. involving girls as young as 12 years old. “Melissa is fearless in her ability to connect with people and tell their stories,” “The women I photographed were really at the heart he says. “I think that is her greatest asset, and hence resulted in national of the story and showed incredible strength, courage recognition for her efforts.” and perseverance despite such traumatic Of her many experiences behind the life events,” she recalls. lens in places around the globe, Renwick “Their fearlessness was incredible acknowledges some assignments stand to witness.” out more than others. Renwick and her colleagues staked While travelling in Cuba early last year, out a highway motel known as a popular she developed a great fondness for the destination for human trafficking. The motel island nation and its people. In her written proved to be a revolving door for johns and reflections on the trip, Renwick recalled the they watched several men enter and leave adventures of being sandwiched in the back the same room in half-hour intervals. of the ’50s-era American cars that are part “It was there that the story became of the shared taxi system. very real, because we saw it happening “Our bodies would sway into each right in front of us,” Renwick says. “It other like the waves brushing up against was a deeply troubling scene that really the Malecón (seawall). Rear-view mirrors Melissa Renwick, Bachelor of Communication — Journalism graduate affected my outlook towards men for many vibrated with the pulse of the car in idle and months after.” had to be re-adjusted every time the gears For her efforts in exposing a dark switched into drive. subject, Renwick was awarded with the Picture Story “Strangers entered the vehicles, greeting everyone with ‘Buenos tardes,’ like of the Year from the News Photographers Association we were old family friends. I can’t imagine a Cuba without them roaring through of Canada. Her photos were chosen from more than the streets, leaving a trail of black smoke in the salty air.” 2,000 images submitted by photographers from across During an extended stay at a remote island in northern Bangladesh, she joined the country. And earlier in 2016, Renwick was declared a team of western doctors to document reconstructive surgeries on burn victims. Photojournalist of the Year by the News Photographers Renwick remembers a young woman who suffered severe burns when her Association of Canada for other work. dress caught on fire from an outdoor mud stove. In what was said to be an “It’s hugely exciting and a great honour to be attempt to kill her, her mother-in law doused her with scalding hot water. While recognized by my peers,” says Renwick. she survived the attack, the woman’s husband left her with their kids in tow and Photography instructor Paul Coates taught Renwick in remarried, collecting another dowry. her first two years in Mount Royal’s Journalism program “It’s the kind of assignment that stays with you,” Renwick says. “I just feel and believes providing a raw view of the world motivates incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to tell stories like these, because people to take action and get involved in finding solutions. hopefully it inspires some change.”




A Cuban man bails out his boat


A butcher in Viñales pours boiling water on a pig as part of the hair removal process
















DOCUMENTARIAN, UNION GOSPEL MISSION Jeremy Hunka creates documentaries to tell the stories happening right now in the hope of creating change in the future. He filters and sorts visuals to raise awareness of both the good and the bad in the world, which often coexist in the same time and place. After graduating from Mount Royal in 2007 with a Broadcasting diploma, Hunka’s experience began in front of the camera, but he now thrives behind it. He says his documentaries are not about abstract issues or policies, rather, something that directly affects the person or people he is filming. There are profound reactions when you openly introduce a viewer directly to a person being affected by negative circumstances,



Jeremy Hunka, Broadcasting diploma graduate



PHOTOS COURTESY OF JEREMY HUNKA Hunka, with the help of his wife, tells the story of struggle African women and children face daily

he explains, and without those reactions the ability to incite action or change is lessened. “The biggest thing I learned (at Mount Royal) was how to personalize a story and capture an issue through the lens of one person,” says Hunka. As a former broadcaster and videographer with Medicine Hat’s CHAT News (his first job after graduation) Hunka produced, filmed, wrote and edited a five-part news series in Uganda and a 30-minute documentary in Kenya, for which he won both the National Radio-Television News Directors Association of Canada (now called the Radio Television Digital News Association), and the Dave

Rogers Short and Long Feature Awards, respectively. He also delivered powerful documentaries as a freelance filmmaker with Save the Children Canada. Hunka and his wife, Alejandra Rivera, travelled to Kenya and Uganda, producing multiple short docs for the organization. “There is this terrible practice in Africa where women and children are in rock quarries, crushing rocks with their bare hands to sell,” says Hunka of his time in Uganda. “We were able to get inside and film where the conditions were deplorable.” Another practice Hunka captured for this series showed the horrific conditions women and children are forced to endure to harvest miraa crops in Kenya. “It was eye-opening and really powerful,” says Hunka. “It’s important to show the world these things are happening.” While he has seen and documented a number of challenging circumstances, Hunka also tries to present the positive in the world. While filming in the Turkana Desert in northern Kenya, a place he describes as nothing but sand and extreme heat, Hunka discovered, and brought to light, the fact that two Medicine Hat residents were building wells for the Turkana people, a semi-nomadic tribe who often must travel for hours to find drinking water. “It was mind-boggling how many lives this fresh water was saving,” says Hunka, who titled that work Too Dry for Tears. “These are the documentaries I’m most proud of, because they are showing things the world needs to see.” Hunka credits much of his success to long-time Mount Royal professor Irv Ratushniak, who stressed the importance of camera techniques and working in difficult situations. Combined with the mentorship of instructor Rick Castiglione and Marc Chikinda, former dean of the

Faculty of Communication Studies, Hunka maintains he will be forever grateful. “They were invested and cared not just about our success, but about the quality of the work,” he says. “They believed that storytelling can really make a difference.” Formerly a popular Calgary reporter, anchor and television news producer, and now a well-known documentarian in his own right, Castiglione is far from shocked when it comes to Hunka’s achievements. “Jeremy was one of those students who was exceptionally fun to teach,” says Castiglione. “From day one, I could tell he was a good storyteller and had the creativity and ambition to be successful in broadcast journalism and video production. He has certainly proved me right.”

“These are the documentaries I’m most proud of because they are showing things the world needs to see.” — Jeremy Hunka





INTERVIEW BY TIERNEY EDMUNDS Describe your career path Retail banking representative, HSBC Bank Canada; associate investment advisor, Richardson GMP; investment advisor, Canaccord Genuity; senior wealth advisor, ScotiaMcLeod/Scotia Wealth Management. What three words describe your student experience at MRU? Enriching, challenging and positive. What was the most important course you took at MRU and why? It’s not a single course, but I’d have to say the most important and beneficial experience at Mount Royal was having the opportunity to study in Hong Kong through the international exchange program. It was one of the reasons for my quick job placement at HSBC, and it continues to be part of my professional, social and charitable life today. Truly, every course had merit. Even my electives have been valuable to my career, including the history of film course I took. How have you invested in your community after MRU? I believe volunteering is the rent you pay for the space you occupy in your community — I can’t express this enough. I mostly volunteer through Rotary, working on many local and international projects. I’m also involved with the Canadian Cancer Society, Elizabeth Fry, Enviros, The Men’s Recovery Centre, and I’ll be helping Operation Eyesight later this year. Mount Royal is also on the list. I’ve been mentoring students through the Harry G. Schaefer Mentorship program at MRU for the last two years.



What is the best piece of advice you received at MRU that helped prepare you for your career? My finance instructor, Mahesh Kumar, gave great advice. He taught us that one of the main drivers of your success is how you surround yourself with quality likeminded people who champion your story and vice versa. If you don’t have such a community, you had best start to develop one. Interestingly enough, getting involved with charities and non-profits happens to be an amazing way to do this. What is your claim to fame? At the moment, most people would say it’s my networking strengths, marketing prowess and roguishly good looks … or perhaps it’s being voted “rookie of the year” for my entire firm across Canada last year. That was nice. What do you miss most about being a student? Probably the lifestyle. Fixing your own hours to the courses you want to take, the friends and fellow students coming together for various projects and outings, the smell of the Library (honestly). Every time I return to MRU for events, meeting my mentees et cetera and walk through the halls, I can’t help but remember all the good times, and the stressful ones of course, during those four years. I would do it all over again. When you’re not advising and volunteering, what else are you doing? I love to travel and explore the world. I recently got back from trips to Jordan and Israel. I also hike, golf, snowboard, rock climb, cross-country ski, play tennis and scuba dive.

Eric Bennett Senior Wealth Advisor ScotiaMcLeod/Scotia Wealth Management

What are your future plans and aspirations? I aspire to continue to grow within the fully integrated wealth management field, possibly starting my own firm one day. I also plan to continue to focus on raising funds for those less fortunate, by working with nonprofits and travelling with purpose. We are incredibly fortunate here in North America and I believe thinking and acting beyond one’s self is the best way to ensure you lead a rich life. Integrating with the community when travelling to achieve a common goal is the most enriching way to experience people and culture.

Eric Bennett will be at Mount Royal University on March 2 to present a talk on financial planning for retirement with Timothy Noonan, the co-author of, “Someday Rich: Planning for Sustainable Tomorrows Today” as part of the new Alumni Speaker Series. Visit for more information.

Chantal Kreviazuk NOV. 8, 2016

Chris HadямБeld NOV. 26, 2016


The Fellowship Band JAN. 29, 2017


CONCERT SEASON 2016/17 Wu Man & Friends

MAR. 3, 2017

Zukerman Trio FEB 17, 2017

Fall 2016

This story has no end.

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