the nhl lockout’s real victims are those employed in the food and beverage industry. CAMERON STUERLE You notice the quiet as soon as you walk in. Most of the chairs are empty, and many tables are blank with nary a drink coaster, water mark, or used napkin. It's a familiar scene. “Oh, it’s been awfully quiet lately,” says Bob Eriksson, a regular at Dakota’s Sports Bar in Kelowna, B.C. “There have been times when I have to wait for a spot at the bar on a Monday or Tuesday; this year, I’ve been able to walk right in and grab a seat without any problems.” The typical Canadian sports bar is usually full even on weeknights. But, such establishments are currently experiencing a customer recession and bracing for more hard times ahead. The National Hockey League has entered another lockout, the second since 2004 and the fourth in the past 20 years. The lockout has removed hockey from television screens and left the bar and restaurant industry scrambling. “Normally, I don’t even have to look at a schedule,” says Eriksson. “I can tell by the size of the crowd if there is a game on or not.” Desolate tables and unopened brews are the hallmarks of a too-familiar war. “I do remember 2004 was slow and quiet too,” says Eriksson. Following the 2004-2005 lockout, the owners reported losses exceeding $2 billion due to game cancellations, while the players lost over $1 billion in total salaries league-wide. Life carried on for all parties, however; some on both sides of the NHL labour negotiation had to move down a tax bracket but, generally speaking, everyone survived. The people you should really feel sorry for are
those caught in the crossfire. Team employees, arena attendants, and ushers were laid off in 2005, and more have been laid off this year. This lockout will hit hardest, however, with real consequences for the bar and restaurant industry. “It was tough eight years ago,” says one Vancouver bar owner who asked to remain anonymous. “I lost over 30 percent of my day-to-day business that year and I see no reason why it’ll be different now.” The 2004-2005 lockout had a devastating impact on bars and restaurants across Canada. One Calgary café owner told the Calgary Herald that daily sales in his café were down 30 percent dur-
“I’ve run up bar tabs over $300 while watching canucks games.” ing the lockout, while other Calgary establishments claimed losses around 20 percent. The Canadian government estimated that $170 million of Canada’s gross domestic product was lost during the 310 days the last lockout dragged on—a significant amount in the restaurant industry. An official breakdown of that $170 million is not available; however, surveys and market research suggests that most of the money spent on game tickets, team merchandise, and concessions was generally redistributed to other forms of entertainment. Spectator sport franchises from other leagues like the Toronto Raptors of the National Basketball Association and Canadian Football League teams
across Canada received boons in ticket sales, concessions, merchandise sales, and advertising. That sounds like a lot of money. But considering Canada’s GDP was in excess of $1 trillion in 2004, $170 million actually leaves a smaller dent than you might realize. Nevertheless, in specific industries, like bars and restaurants, those deficits can be crippling. Cities who do not boast an NHL franchise, particularly in the Maritime provinces removed from NHL culture, have seen little to no financial impact at bars and restaurants, according to the Halifax Metro News. On the other hand, establishments in and around cities with NHL franchises are seeing a normally reliable customer base dry up. It’s not that the NHL lockout prevents Canadians from going out; the lockout just keeps people away from establishments they would normally go to. “Crowds are definitely smaller,” says the anonymous bar owner. “We get good numbers on the weekend like all bars do, but not having those Canucks games during the week hurts business big time. A lot of people are just eating somewhere else and having an evening in, when they’d normally be here for the game on a weekday. Regardless of what
they’re doing,” he says, “they’re not here.” The effect on establishments near arenas is fairly obvious. But suburban watering holes will offer specials during NHL games to attract patrons. “We put on deals with certain beers at half price,” says the anonymous bar owner. “Cheap pitchers, twofor-ones, things of that nature to attract customers to come out while the Canucks are playing.” 2004-2005 was rough for establishments that rely heavily on hockey fans. What is being done to better prepare for and mitigate losses during a 2012-2013 lost season? “We put out the offers, we advertise, we try to access people through social media. But the bottom line?” the bar owner says. “A lot of people came here to
“Most of the money spent on game tickets, team merchandise, and concessions was generally redistributed to other forms of entertainment.” watch the game. If we don’t have a game for them to watch, those people are going to stay at home.” The easiest way to assess the money no longer coming to these sports bars is to ask the fans themselves. “I probably spend around $100,” says Eric Williams, a Vancouver hockey fan, “when I go out to watch the Canucks at a bar. I don’t go out for every game, I couldn’t afford that, but I like to have some drinks and a meal at the bar every now and then.” “I can get a little crazy sometimes,” says Michael, another Canucks fan who chose not to give his surname. “I usually buy a beer or two, but sometimes
I get a lot of drinks and buy rounds for my friends. I’ve run up bar tabs over $300 while watching Canucks games.” Edward Robinson of suburban Abbottsford takes his two teenage sons out to restaurants to watch Canucks games from time to time. “It’s not too bad right now,” Robinson says, “but I imagine the bill will start getting pretty crazy when my sons are old enough to order a beer.” These tabs add up. Even conversative spenders like Michael Amerson of Winnipeg, who rarely spends more than $30 for a night out, buys a couple of beers and a shot or two. “I usually run in a group of seven or so,” Amerson says. “We all buy about $20 to $30 worth of drinks when we watch a Jets game downtown.” While empty tables and slower business have been evident across Canada, Canadian Business Journal notes the effect has spread to American markets. Major cities that host an NHL franchise and no other major pro sports teams like St. Paul, Minnesota, and San Jose, California, have been experiencing a pinch at the bar. Similar to the Calgary Herald’s report in Alberta, business at most sports bars in St. Paul are down 20-30 percent since the start of the lockout. St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman told Canadian Business, “Some bars are completely dependent on 42 days of hockey to make their year."
International students develop a sense of belonging in Canada. The lockout has had further impact beyond the bar. With fewer customers to serve, many bars and pubs have been forced to offer fewer and shorter shifts to its servers. The bar owner in Vancouver declined to comment on layoffs but did state, for the record, “All my hired servers have been required to work shorter hours and take fewer shifts.” The effect has spread all the way to the top, creating losses for the brewers of the beer itself. The Montreal Gazette recently detailed losses experienced in the Canadian market by the Molson Coors Company, an official sponsor of the NHL. Molson Coors stock recently dropped 3.8 percent on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Molson Coors CEO Peter Swinburn told the Gazette that he will seek financial compensation from the NHL once the lockout is over. The impact of the NHL lockout is undeniable, but it’s not hurting the Canadian economy at large. In fact, the Canadian dollar has gotten stronger since the expiry of the NHL’s last collective bargaining agreement. Still, with the NHL and the Player’s Association at an impasse, the bar will remain dull and uneventful. Bartenders’ hands will stay away from the tap and, as the NHL continues to stay off ice and in the boardrooms, the drinks will remain on ice, waiting to be bought and subsequently spilled in excitement.
CELIA MENG “Welcome to Canada, Celia!” I still remember, when I stepped into the airport lobby and saw my name on a big piece of white paper, how excited I felt then and how much I wanted to say “Hi” to the person who picked me up. Everything in Vancouver—the blue sky, the nice weather, the big green trees—attracted me. I was excited to be here. On the way from the airport, I talked a lot with the driver, with whom, at that moment, I found my sense of belonging—what I call my “belongingness.” He took me to my homestay, and I had to say “goodbye” to him. At that time I also had to say goodbye to my belongingness and build it again with my new homestay family. When school started, my homestay mother took me to meet my ESL teachers. I realized that building my belongingness in this new country was going to be a long psychological process. My story is not unique. Thousands of people are attracted to Canada. Maple leaves, Whistler, Niagara Falls and Stanley Park—these are some of the most famous symbols of Canada. People are attracted to this beautiful country for so many reasons. International students come for a better education, to gain a degree, and a better understanding of the world. Immigrants want to enjoy the nice weather and raise their children in a country with religious freedom. Investors want various career experiences and to develop their professional abilities. These rewards, however, come with a price. It is a big challenge to live in a foreign country. People may be scared to enter a new culture and feel shy to talk to local people. Sometimes immigrants do not know a lot about the culture or do not understand it well; they choose to find their
own small community in which they can speak the same language. It helps them to feel comfortable. When people feel weak and lonely, they seek the feeling of belongingness. Professor LiPing Zhang, who has worked at Trinity Western University for seven years, came to Canada as an international student in 1999 to finish her PhD. When the University of Ottawa offered her a full scholarship, she decided it was the right place for her. When I asked her about what things first impressed her, she started to laugh. “A lot of things,” she said. “Definitely food was not impressive at all. So I would say it was the culture. I was shocked. The first day when I was walking on the street, and people just smiled at me, and said ‘hi’ to me, I just got the impression that Canada is a very friendly country. I saw that there was no discrimination, at least from what I saw at that time.” Professor Zhang enjoyed a lot of the culture; to live in a different country, she believes, is a learning experience. Any person, whether an immigrant or international student, has many challenges when he or she first comes to a new country. “Even now,” Professor Zhang said, “I don’t think I can confidently say ‘I am okay!’” I was surprised by that; she already seemed like a real Canadian to me. Professor Zhang shared her personal experience and gave some advice on how to live in Canada. “If you are new here,” she said, “be prepared to open your mind. Whenever you see something that in-
terests you, or even when you feel intimidated as an international student or an immigrant in a new culture, you just need to encourage yourself to go on. And you will benefit in many different ways.” Professor Zhang uses her Chinese background to explain some of the things we need to learn. “We Chinese tend to settle more,” she said. “We see something, we don’t talk about it in a straight forward manner. We try not to hurt people. But you know what, if you do this here, eventually you are going to either not be efficient or get hurt. So just learn to be frank. And,” she said, “of course you need to be strategic. The lesson I learned is how to express yourself, promote yourself, and market yourself.” TWU’s International Student Programs Assistant, Mandy Wang, came to Canada eight years ago, when she was 17. She went through the whole process of learning the language, doing undergraduate studies, and working in Canada. “I know it is a long process,” Mandy said, “and when I talk to students I work with, I encourage them to realize that the process may seem long, but it passes by while you are enjoying the culture when you are learning. Why do I work here?” she asked. “Because I try hard to encourage my students to enjoy their new home and to have great experiences when they are in Canada, so they don’t regret coming here or don’t cut themselves from the culture and just study in their own circle.” Of the problems people may have when they move to Canada, “Culture shock is always the most common one,” Mandy said. “Culture shock is tricky because sometimes people are not aware of it. They do not know what it is, or when they are in culture shock. So international students may feel like it is boring and depressing here. The students don’t want to join Canadian events; the food seems horrible. All of these are signs of culture shock,” she says. “It can be treated by the person himself. One just needs to be sensitive and admit that he is in culture shock. And,” she suggests, “you have to put yourself out of your comfort zone and find some-
thing interesting you can talk about instead of staying in your own culture group. For example, the Chinese tend to stay with other Chinese people because the language is easier for them and the food is more familiar.” My personal story is one of food culture shock. My stomach cannot tolerate dairy products. Even when I smell a dairy product, I feel nauseated. Lactose intolerance is very common in Asia and includes reactions to milk, yogurt, butter, cheese. In my family in China, we always have rice-based congee for breakfast, never milk and cereal since dairy is not our main food. There, we rely on rice,
noodles, and bread buns. When I came to Canada, however, everything changed. That was a really sad day when my homestay mom prepared milk and cereal for my breakfast; lunch was two pieces of pizza; dinner was spaghetti and meatballs with cheese on top. Every meal my homestay mom made had dairy in it. I was so upset because I could not eat it. I still vividly remember what I had for my breakfast and lunch instead—a package of crackers I brought from China. At that time, I felt shy and nervous to express my feelings about Canadian culture. Finally, two days later, I told my homestay mom about my diet preferences. I felt really happy that I could stand up for myself. This was the first thing that I straightforwardly told her: “I don’t like dairy.” I am still proud of myself that I did that; otherwise, I would have let myself down with the culture shock and would never have been happy with the food. To the people who feel uncomfortable with culture shock Mandy offers good advice. “Be prepared to come to Canada,” she advises. “You need to research and learn what kind of country you are walking into and what kind of culture sensitivity you will be facing. If you want to keep culture shock to a minimum, you need to study the language, bravely open your heart and, with no sense of fear in mind, face the country and welcome whatever is coming to your life.” As an international student myself, I fully understand Mandy’s point. Some international students feel lonely and helpless. Often, they do not like to go out and talk to people; they are not ready to receive the new culture. To protect themselves, they form their own groups and find their security there. Maybe they are not ready psychologically to go out and try to speak English and get involved in the culture. Instead, they decide either to hang out with their Chinese friends to speak the same language or stay at home and play video games. Jeffrey Chang came from Taiwan in 1998; currently, he is a consultant at a financial investment company in Vancouver. He spent his study years here and is now building his career. He found out that it is not easy to make a living or sustain a career in Vancouver, but it is still achievable if we work hard. He is really happy to share his experience with other people. His experience is in many ways similar to Man-
dy’s. Both of them believe that volunteering is always a good thing. “No matter where your are,” Jeffrey said, “volunteering helps us to know the people, especially on our own personal base level. To help others is a way of helping ourselves. The way we learn about other people is by putting trust in others. Volunteering is a chance to go out and meet new people,” he says. “It is a chance for us to get to know other people out there.” International students may be encouraged by Professor Zhang’s experience. “I was a really good student,” she said, “and I studied very hard — even harder than I did in China. Because I studied all the subjects in English, I felt the urge to spend more time and take it more seriously. So that’s why I felt that in my PhD studies in Ottawa I was a really devoted student. As a result,” she said, “I excelled in the advanced economics class.” She recalls a tough midterm where she was the only one in her class who achieved 90 percent. “So the professor came to talk to me and it was really an honor. Then I became kind of famous,” she said. Both Canadian students and other international students talked to her and asked her questions. One day, some students announced they had nominated her to a student leadership role, to represent the economics department. “But I firmly said ‘no,’” she admitted, “just because of some weird feeling of being shy. Now when I think about it, it was really one the biggest mistakes I made. I was so overwhelmed by everything around me in the new environment. I said ‘No.’ I don’t know how I made those students feel,” she said, “but I will not make the same mistake with our students.” Prof. Zhang’s is an essential lesson for any international student to learn: we need to catch every chance we get because the may not come back again. Do not let the chance pass by and have regrets later. “No matter whether you are either trying to be polite or responsible for yourself,” Prof. Zhang insists, “when you are approached, think twice before you say ‘No.’”
academic procrastination has a negative effect on students’ lives.
CHIPO SIAME On a chilly autumn morning, the wind chanted a familiar tune between the cracks of the towering windowpanes that shielded my university classroom from the blistering cold. Inside the crowded classroom, the usual keen students sat attentively in the front of the class, frantically typing every word our professor uttered onto their laptops. Meanwhile, the majority of my classmates slouched behind their rickety lab computers, sluggishly sipping their homemade non-fat-peppermint-mocha-whatever beverages, trying to stay awake. I glanced over at my neighbor’s computer screen, hoping to discreetly compare her lecture notes to mine. I was disappointed to discover that she was rigorously typing away on Facebook, trying to hold in her giggles, as she Facebook stalked a hot guy’s Summer 2012 picture album. Bummer. The cute blonde guy beside me looked like the hockey type, but his shiny Mac laptop displayed a YouTube video clip called ROFL Cat. Finally, I reverted to my own computer screen. I slouched deeper into my uncomfortable, squeaky chair, and spent the rest of my class time tweet-watching. Social networking is an essential medium for open, international communication. It conveys vast information with the click of a button. For
the young socialite, social networking is a religious tradition that makes it easier for individuals to exchange the latest gossip and keep in touch with long-lost family and so-called friends.
“There is a special place in hell for 10,000 word essays.” Social media is a positive channel for communication, commerce, information exchange, entertainment, academic research and—let’s not forget—academic procrastination. While some individuals have progressively adapted to this powerful channel, and utilize social media sites in moderation, countless university students are struggling to find a middle ground. “It’s an understatement to say that I am obsessed with social networking,” says Timothy, a fourth year university student. “The first thing I do when I wake up is go straight to my iPhone, to see if I received any Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram notifications while I was sleeping. This has become my
morning ritual.” In 2012, research shows that the top three social networking sites used by Canadians are Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. “I love, love, love Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram,” says Sarah, a self-proclaimed socialite. “Facebook is my favorite, because it keeps me up to date with the latest relationship drama. You know, who broke up with who, who’s dating who, whose birthday I forgot about, whose party I wasn’t invited to. It keeps me in the social loop, and makes for great round-the-table lunch gossip.” While many university students, like Sarah, believe their loyalty to social networking keeps them in the loop with their friendship circles, recent studies reveal that excessive use of social media may actually bring unpleasant consequences to many students’ social lives, professional careers, and psychological conditions. Behavioural theorists claim social media provides a source of entertainment, the opportunity to escape from reality, and to acquire love. It can also have negative side effects for numerous university social networking lovers. “Nowadays, I spend way more time talking to my friends over the internet,” Timothy says, “than I do actually seeing them face-to-face. I have become so used to talking to people online, that sometimes I have a hard time communicating with people when I actually see them.” Timothy shifts nervously in his seat during this confession. “When you’re behind a computer screen,” he says, “you don’t have to deal with the awkwardness that comes with seeing people face-to-face. You can be whoever you want to be. As long as you have the Instagram pictures to prove it, people will believe you,” he laughs. Karla agrees with Tim’s comment. “The worst part is, my parents pay so much money for me to go to this private university, but little do they know that I spend most of my time in lectures on Pinterest. In my four years of university, I’ve learned more about Kim Kardashian’s wardrobe than I
have about accounting.” Studies show that in Canada, the average 18 to 24 year old spends at least 10.8 hours a week on social media alone. As a university student who constant-
“In my four years of university, I’ve learned more about Kim Kardashian’s wardrobe than I have about accounting.” ly sees these statistics at play, every day—whether I’m in the library, the classroom, or even the school cafeteria — it is clear that more and more students are graduating with a degree in social networking. “When I go to class,” Anne says, “I have the mindset of, hmm, gee, what can I waste my time on [during the lecture] today! I’m not necessarily here to learn something. I learn more when I’m studying on my own time at home,” Anne says. Instead of using valuable lecture time to ask questions, or to make note of what professors are discussing, the majority of university students waste their lecture time on getting to know what their latest university crush is up to. “Let’s be real here: university is all about the social experience, even if most of the experience involves free university wifi,” Anne says sarcastically. Don’t get me wrong, I, myself, have stalked Beyonce’s Instagram page during class lectures. I am even guilty of creating tweets about how there is a special place in hell for 10,000 word essays. Social networking can be a fun way to stay connected with life’s “picture-perfect, Facebook profile pic” moments. But for the aspiring, university student, aiming to be one of the world-changers in today’s concrete jungle, it is important to use self-control when surfing the waves of social networking, especially in the classroom. Because earning a degree in Social Networking won’t pay the bills.
Marine biologist Steve Blasco boldly explores Earth’s final frontier: the sea.
KATRINA RODD For a man who doesn’t even drive a car, marine biologist Steve Blasco leads an extraordinary life. “As a scientist,” Blasco says, “my interest in life is really trying to understand the ocean floor, the history of the ocean floor, and its impact and interaction with man.” Having spent the better part of his professional life — 30 years, to be exact — in the arctic, Blasco has become a leader in Canadian Arctic exploration. “The ocean floor is 70% of our planet and yet it is the least studied,” Blasco says. This lack of information about our own planet drives him to explore an area with so many unanswered questions. His job has taken him all over the globe: the North Pole, Japan, Bermuda, the Great Lakes, and the Caribbean – to name a few. Most notably, it has taken him underwater 13,000 feet—that’s 178 Statues of Liberty stacked on end — down to the depth of the Atlantic Ocean where the Titanic lies. Blasco is one of only a handful of people who
have had the opportunity to experience the mighty ship’s grave. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the ship, but Blasco made it clear this year was a commemoration of the Titanic and the lives lost on it, not an anniversary of the tragedy. At Blasco’s home in Nova Scotia he gave 16 lectures over a two-month period. “You can read and hear all about the people on the Titanic, but my role is quite different,” Blasco notes. “I look at the relationship between the shipwreck and the ocean floor. We use the shipwreck as a time marker.” Thanks to the enormous success of James Cameron’s Titanic, the story of the ship resonates with most as the love story of Jack and Rose. Yet there is so much more to the monstrous ship that sunk on its maiden voyage. Blasco’s goal is to prove from a scientific perspective that the wreck itself has value, beyond the stories and legacies of the lives that were lost, and to study the geology of what’s happening to the ship in the deep sea. After spending 17 hours
examining the ship and sea floor on which Not many people aspire to spend most of their lives the vessel settled, Blasco and his team found in the cold grips of the Canadian Arctic, but Blasco that the graveyard was “anything but a lifewouldn’t have it any other way. “Thirty years of my life less void.” The ship, which is four kilometers have been in the Arctic and it sort of gets a hold of you. below sea level, has become home to 24 differIt’s spellbinding, and it’s stark, and it’s cold. But it’s ent species, and has provided scientists with beautiful.” many clues to the ocean floor. Blasco counts the 62 days he spent at the North Pole “The Titanic was brand new when it went for the Polar Expedition among his most memorable down so everything about this wreck is an inexperiences. During this trip, Blasco and his team dicator of life on the sea floor,” Blasco says. “We explored the pressure of the ocean to determine if found sand ripples like at a beach, which indiit acts in a different manner in the deep sea than it
“We spend a lot more effort, money, and resources in outer space than we do our own planet.” cates water action and waves. Nobody thought that does on land. To test this theory, a plain Styrowould happen on the sea floor. And we found that foam cup was tied to a submersible and brought the Titanic itself is buried into a landslide that hap4200 meters down to the sea floor. What resultpened one million years ago. Until this point, no one ed was a thimble-sized cup, shrunken evenly in had any idea why it hadn’t sunk into the sea floor sedevery direction, proving that the tremendous iment and disappeared, but this answered that quespressure of the ocean is uniform from every tion.” angle. Blasco’s findings have implications in other areas As thrilling as trips to the Titanic and as well. Their discovery of the landslides on the sea deep-sea science experiments sound, Blasfloor discovered issues with telecommunications cables co’s work is not all about examining famous placed across the ocean. Blasco’s research helps compawrecks. His work has serious implications nies ensure they aren’t laying cables in the wrong area. for the Earth and the way governments and
businesses treat it. “Part of my research is on how to prevent blowouts of off-shore oilrigs,” Blasco says. “Had they done the right research in the Gulf of Mexico, they could have prevented that. If you do the right research you can minimize the chance of a blowout and loss of control.” During his two months in the North Pole, Blasco studied the impact of the frigid environment on drilling. Public concern about an oil spill in the Canadian Beaufort Sea is huge, and if such an incident were to occur, it could take decades to clean up. The company responsible for the Gulf of Mexico disaster, BP, is interested in drilling in the Arctic. “The ice is a huge force and can interact with rigs and cause damage. In the area they want to drill there are many landslides, much like the Titanic site. Knowing how old they are, why they occurred, and
if they will happen again is important to prevent any complications.” As an advisor to the Canadian Government, Blasco provides perspective and knowledge to the government and oil companies in any matters dealing with Arctic drilling. He served in the role of chief scientist aboard Canada’s enormous icebreaker, the Amundsen. Each year for two to three months, the Amundsen departs for the Canadian Arctic with a crew of 42 Arctic biologists, geologists, and meteorologists dedicated to scientific research. This ship provides a platform for Blasco’s research and travels to areas of drilling interest so the crew can examine potential hazards. This year, the Canadian Coast Guard celebrates its 50th anniversary. The Canadian government is honouring the Coast Guard with the new $50 note,
using the ocean floor and how it can be done without adversely affecting the environment. Blasco’s hard work and incomparable contributions to Arctic research and exploration have not gone unnoticed. Over the years, his achievements and findings have gained national and international recognition. He has received a distinguished merit award from the Government of Canada, been invited to lecture at United Nations and G7 conferences, and has been inducted as a Member of the Order of Canada in Science. To top off his numerous awards, Blasco has achieved the rare honour of being the centrefold in special issues of the 1988 National Geographic and 1999 Canadian Geographic magazines. However, when asked to name his most memorable milestones Blasco answers, “Well I lost my virginity when… Is that what you mean?” Even with his distinguished awards and a well above-average intelligence, Blasco enjoys making the odd (or frequent) inappropriate joke. Overhearing his comment, Blasco’s wife pipes in: “Some things never change.” “I failed sensitivity training twice,” he says. Placing more value on what he has learned from his research than on the achievements he has earned, Blasco says his greatest accomplishment is the fact that his career has allowed him to travel and use his knowledge worldwide. “What I do has an impact on society, so it’s applied,” he says. “I like doing applied work. I like knowing that my research is going to prevent a problem. From the Titanic it’s going to teach us that the deep ocean is not a lifeless void. From Bermuda it’s going to teach us the rate at which the sea level is rising. I’m addwhich depicts the Amundsen as a reminder of Can- ing to the knowledge base of an environment ada’s commitment to Arctic research and the devel- that’s largely unknown. We spend a lot more efopment and protection of northern communities. fort, money, and resources in outer space than Although few people inhabit the Arctic, it is home to we do on our own planet.” Being able to apply the Inuvialuk people. Because they depend on fishing his work successfully to areas that impact the and hunting for survival, one bad well in the Arctic entire global community compensates for would be devastating to their resources and daily life. Blasco’s unique vision. “That’s what I really like about my job,” Blasco says. “I “My vision is to survive my marriage,” he get to work with the Inuvialuk people, government regu- jokes. “Oh you mean my eyesight? Damn. lators, industry— and we all work as a team devoted to the Here I thought we were going to talk about ocean floor and its history.” my philosophical outlook on life.” What drives someone to pursue such a line of work? Blasco is legally blind. When his moth“When I was in university,” Blasco says, “I became very in- er was pregnant she came into contact terested in the ocean as a geologist and then I discovered there with a bacteria that caused him to be was very little known about the ocean floor. I was able to do my born with vision in only one eye. The research in an unknown area.” In addition to research, Blasco bacteria kept attacking his retina over put his intelligence to work trying to understand how man is time and, while he studied at Queen’s
University, he began to lose sight in his functioning eye. After undergoing laser surgery in 1970 some of his vision was saved; he was left with only six percent sight. Always one to have a positive outlook, Blasco is confident of his work. “No one knows what’s happening on the bottom of the ocean, it’s pitch black down there, so I’m not at a disadvantage at all.” A sense of humour about his situation is one of his coping mechanisms. Few people who meet him have any idea of his condition. And, by acting as if he has no limitations, Blasco makes the best of it. Finding the humour in something serious has helped him get to where he is today. “I cope with it by ignoring it,” he says. “You have to say it’s something you can’t do anything about, so I tend to ignore it. I live with funny things like someone telling me I’m pouring their wine down their arm, not in their glass. My wife always has to check my shirt before I go out because half my meal always ends up on it.” It’s hard to believe that spending two months on a giant ship in the Arctic is easier than driving a car. “A ship is an interesting environment to work
on,” he says. “I’m not trying to work in and manoeuvre around a city, so I can very quickly adapt to my environment. It’s all very controlled. Working on a ship is actually quite easy when you have limited vision.” In fact, Blasco is more comfortable on a ship than anywhere else. “You collect all this different information like photographs and samples,” he says, “but then you have to spend a lot of time thinking about it to understand the seafloor. It requires application of your intellect.” To make up for anything he might miss, Blasco uses computers to enhance anything he wants. Technology allows him to take a picture of the seafloor and blow it up onto meter-long screens. “Even if I had full vision,” Blasco says, “I would be doing the same thing to maximize the quality of the image. The field of view is only a couple of meters; I work in an environment easy for me to deal with. Besides,” he laughs. “Who’s going to argue with me? Nobody else knows what’s out there.”
For extreme couponer Candice Clay, couponing is a lifestyle — to save money, and even give back to the community.
CHRISTINA MITTEN The mission is simple: get the best deal. We must be prepared and organized; if not, we will fail. Binder and store flyer ready, the list is organized with military precision, right down to the cost of each item. We scan the environment for potential obstacles. Product representatives are the enemy. If they catch us scooping up a good deal, our mission will be terminated. Therefore, timing is key. As we cautiously move around the place, heart pumping, something catches the eye. We snatch it up before anyone else can get it. This may sound like a jewel heist in a movie, but it is not. My accomplice on this mission is Canadian extreme couponer, Candice Clay, mother of six. This is couponing: an adventure in deal hunting. In a world of economic turmoil, high unemployment, with a steep cost of living, how is this generation to make ends meet? Enter the world of “extreme” couponing. This isn’t your mom’s cou-
“I can justify taking four coupons for my large family but I can’t justify taking 28.”
poning, where we save a buck here or there. “Extreme couponers” take things to a level inconceivable to the rest of us, obtaining upwards of 90% savings—meaning that a $100 grocery bill would cost less than $10. Interested? Here’s how they do it. “I wish I had found out about couponing when I was younger,” Candice says. “I heard about a couponing class through a friend, and I kind of invited myself, which is something I don’t usually do. So I went and just got tons of information. The woman at the seminar showed us all the things she got free. I was like you’re kidding me, and you can print coupons off the Internet? It was like printing money. I was 100 percent all in.” Candice believes couponing is for everyone, though it takes time to do well. “In fact,” she says, “many people are unaware of product coupons, which are right in front of the product. They just buy the product, and lose their chance to save themselves the extra 50 cents.” Couponing is a great tool, as long as you do it within moderation. “I think that in the States it is just greedy and horrible,” Candice says, “and I am an extreme shopper.” Since the TLC series “Extreme Couponing” first aired, coupons are harder to find. Tear pads of coupons or rebate forms, usually located on the shelf or
displayed near the advertised product, disappear. “People are taking full tear pads now,” Candice says. “I can justify taking four coupons for my large family, but I can’t justify taking 28.” Luckily, Candice is a pro at finding the coupons. Grocery stores usually stock coupons right in front of the product. Smart Source comes out every couple of weeks. On Red Plum you can find free things online. When looking for the best deal online, flexibility is key. “You need to be looking for the cheapest price,” Candice says, “and not be brand-loyal. After all, people are creatures of habit. Manufacturers want people to buy into their brand.” Couponers buy whatever is cheapest. Other deals require extensive searching. “Some [product] boxes have a coupon inside,” Candice says. “The cool thing is that I can use this coupon on the new box I purchase, which has the same coupon offered on it. My kids had free ice tea all summer.” Manufacturers often provide coupons directly, by mail or email, often with no expiry date. Additionally, you can save big by printing coupons off a website for the product or store. “I have actually rung up $100 bills that were free,” Candice says. Another popular method, known as “stacking,” combines coupons for the same product, usually one from the Internet and another from the store or from a coupon book such as Red Plum. When it comes to saving money for families, combining coupons is the answer to getting things free or almost free. Not all stores allow you to stack coupons, however. “You need to know your deals,” Candice says. “A couple of stores do allow you to combine coupons as long as they’re not from the same source. You just need to check the UPC code on the back of the coupon. If the UPC code is different, you can stack at Save-On-Foods. London Drugs will allow you to stack as long as it is less than the price, because they won’t give you the overage.” Candice recommends reading carefully to determine whether coupons can be combined. Great Canadian Superstore, for instance, will allow you
to combine in-store with manufacturer coupons. “An average family can save big on things like toothpaste and laundry soap,” Candice says. “I haven’t paid for laundry soap for a year; I stockpile it. A family can save a lot just by looking through flyers.” Some stores will even pay you back for the overage on your coupons. “Walmart actually gives you gift cards to use towards your other purchases,” she says. Most extreme couponers are perceived as being wasteful. The question is, do they really use all of the stuff they buy? Candice does. “The odd time I will get something for someone else,” she says. “For example, I don’t use aspirin so I will usually give it someone in my family.” A major concern with couponing is hoarding, often associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder. “I think you do have to be careful to avoid hoarding,” Candice says. “Yeah, it’s free, but it has taken up space, it costs money and people can go crazy with free. Besides,” she says, “no one needs 1000 toothbrushes.” In order to avoid hoarding, you must stay organized. Keep an inventory to avoid stockpiling and taking up unnecessary space in your home. By acquiring free stuff for the economically disadvantaged, couponing can become a tool for community outreach. Candice has brought “big baskets of stuff for people in need.“ She also helped her local gym get started by offering a three-month supply of shampoo and body wash to help them out. Single moms need stuff. Candice uses couponing to give to the local food banks and charities. “Things like toiletries [and] granola bars. There are tons of coupons on Campbell’s soup. They have a long expiry date, and are great for the food bank.” Couponing is a skill. When used appropriately, we all can save money, and even give back to the community. “Couponing is not extreme like on TV,” Candice says. “It’s a lifestyle, and a way to save money. Coupon responsibly: don’t be greedy, use common sense, and also take time to go online and research to get the deals,” she advises. “We need to be aware of our surroundings when we are couponing. Make sure we treat others with respect and just keep it simple: no crazy shops with seven carts or 1000 toothbrushes.”
MARCUS KLIEWER Imagine: you walk into a store and believe everyone around you hates you immediately. A mother shields her children from you. A young couple laughs and mocks you as you walk by. The clerk won’t make eye contact because he can’t stand the sight of you. You try to speak but all that comes out is a chain of unconnected words. A voice in your head confirms your belief: “You messed up, you ruined your life all those years ago, you will never amount to anything. Everyone hates you and everyone will always hate you.” This is just a fragment of what someone suffering a schizophrenic episode may experience. The symptoms and experiences of schizophrenia differ radically from patient to patient. However, delusions, hallucinations and disorganized thought are fundamental elements of the disorder. Delusions involve obsession with an idea, often related to persecution or grandeur. It may be as extreme as believing aliens are controlling everyone around you, or simply believing nobody likes you. These delusions can become ingrained, and experienced daily. It’s the morning commute to school. You notice a black car behind you; it seems different. Two hours later, you notice the same car in the parking lot. They’re following you. CIA agents are planning to kidnap you. Or maybe aliens are analyzing your every move. Delusions of being followed or watched are quite common, according to Catherine Harrison, PhD. Without proper diagnosis and therapy these delusional beliefs can create massive tensions between family members and friends. Often the delusions will involve a secretive element, making it harder for friends and family to be aware of the problem. Schizophrenic delusions are often fueled by hallu-
cinations. A hallucination is something perceived by the senses that has no basis in reality. Auditory hallucinations are the most common form and fall into three basic categories: hearing multiple voices arguing, hearing one’s thoughts out loud, and/or hearing a narrator comment on one’s actions and thoughts. These voices might give commands: “Stand up, go to the door, close the door, open the door, close the door, open the door.” They can be malicious: “I hate you, and so do your so called friends; remember that one idiotic thing you did? You should just kill yourself already.” Aside from being mentally exhausting, these voices interfere with daily activi-
“People experiencing symptoms are often aware of their inability to communicate.” ties. It becomes difficult to fall asleep if one hears voices all night. Visual hallucinations, also linked to schizophrenia, are quite rare. The third category is disorganized speech and behavior. These inflict an inability to communicate thoughts and/or physically move in a normal way. Imagine trying to walk somewhere only to find yourself paralyzed. Even basic speech can become a jumbled mess of unintelligible words. People experiencing these symptoms are often aware of their inability to communicate, adding an extra level of confusion to the episode. Being aware of some of the symptoms and varieties of schizophrenic experience can help us empathize with and recognize people suffering from a schizoaffective disorder.
books and movies have created false notions about mental illness.
It’s the scene in the movie where someone with mental illness kills his family because voices told him to do it. It’s the twist at the end where one character turns out to be two characters. It’s the overly sentimental scene where someone overcomes her illness through sheer will power. Many cultural myths surround mental illness, especially schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a broad term for many variations of mental illness; auditory hallucinations, paranoid delusions, incoherent speech and disorganized thought are the main symptoms. An estimated 1 in 100 people are afflicted with schizophrenia worldwide.
around you. Undifferentiated schizophrenia is the hardest to categorize, as it often includes symptoms involved with all types of schizophrenia. Despite being one of the most common and serious mental illnesses, schizophrenia and its symptoms remain misunderstood by the population at large. Many myths, prejudices and misconceptions about this disorder still exist today. Myth 1: Schizophrenia is a split personality disorder
There are a few reasons this myth came into being. Schizophrenia means “split mind.” However, the term has nothing to do with personality. Only in extremely rare dissociative identity disorders “Using the term do people demonstrate multiple personalities. The ‘schizo’ to describe a “split mind” of schizophrenia refers to the way memories and behaviors work in an uncoordinated friend’s mood change and illogical fashion. Movies with unrealistic poris quite offensive.” trayals of schizophrenia and mental illness are also to blame; for example: Me myself and Irene, Psycho etc. There are a few different forms of schizophrenia: According to Trinity Western University psyparanoid, catatonic, disorganized and undifferenti- chology professor, Lynn DuMerton, using the term ated schizophrenia. Paranoid schizophrenia often “schizo” to describe a friend’s mood change is quite involves frightening delusions such as the belief one offensive to those actually suffering from schizois being followed or that everyone is out to get you. phrenia. Aside from being derogatory, it shows a Catatonic symptoms include freezing up in a posi- fundamental misunderstanding of the basic symption for hours and/or constantly mimicking those toms involved with schizophrenia.
Myth 2: People with schizophrenia are violent and is a universal statistic that applies to every populadangerous tion in the world, according to an article published in Lancet by Van Os and Kapur (2009). Genetic Hollywood and media sensationalism are to predisposition is a major contributing factor to the blame for this misunderstanding. Popular media development of schizophrenia; it moves from one has an unhealthy obsession with violent people generation to the next. suffering from mental illness; when someone with mental illness commits a violent act, the news often Myth 6: Schizophrenia and other mental illness are gives far more coverage to it than other murders. separate from, and not as serious as physical illness Some people may find behavior exhibited during a schizophrenia episode frightening or intense, According to Prof. DuMerton, and many psybut rarely does it result in physical violence. Only chologists, schizophrenia is a serious medical diagin cases of extreme substance abuse or previously nosis and often is a lifelong struggle. This affliction violent tendencies has schizophrenia been linked to causes extreme panic, social isolation and distress. physical violence. One in 10 people suffering from schizophrenia attempt suicide. Van Os and Kapur believe the lifesMyth 3: If someone really put their mind to it, they pan of people suffering from schizophrenia is 10 to could just snap out of it 15 years less than the life expectancy of the general population. Surprisingly, many people believe schizophrenia can be overcome with willpower alone. In reality, Myth 7: There is no recovery from schizophrenia almost all cases of schizophrenia can be overcome only with medication and/or therapy. The halluciSchizophrenia is a continual struggle for most, nations and delusions of schizophrenia are so over- but there is hope. Medicinal therapy, life skills, whelming, the brain almost always perceives them training and support, lessen the effects of schizoas reality. Only in a few rare cases can someone phrenia. In fact, people with schizophrenia can cope with the disorder without the use of medica- lead a normal life now, more than ever before. In tion. the last two decades, advances in medications and therapy related to schizophrenia have been subMyth 4: Schizophrenia is a result of demon posses- stantial. sion or a bad relationship with God Myth 8: Schizophrenia medication is worse than This myth runs in some religious circles. Often schizophrenia itself victims of schizophrenia will have grand delusions involving religious symbolism. “The belief that one Initially schizophrenia medication had many is God or Satan,” says Prof. DuMerton, “is a recur- negative side effects. However, through advances ring theme in schizophrenia delusions.” This leads in science and research, this is no longer the case; some people to falsely believe demonic possession thanks to modern research, many side effects have lies at the root of schizophrenia. Often, ceremonies been minimized or eliminated. of exorcism are conducted to “heal” mental illness. Such ceremonies hinder the process of healing and Public awareness is the key to helping people can even cause more damage by lending false cre- cope with illness. Simply having a better underdence to imaginary delusion. Faith healing and ex- standing of what someone is going through allows orcisms have never been proven to help; medication us to provide a more legitimate form of support research and doctors have. and care. Schizophrenia is not a split personality disorder caused by demons, but a serious mental Myth 5: Schizophrenia is extremely rare illness involving delusions and hallucinations that affects a significant portion of the population. It is Schizophrenia is more common than most peo- not a hopeless cause, for advances in therapy and ple think. Nearly 1 in 100 people suffer from it. This medication are being made every day.
canadian university students face hurdles when fighting for fair trade.
REBECCA SELVIG Canadian university students have been fighting to make their campuses fair trade. The University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University have recently become accredited. Some 25 others across the country are currently in the process, hoping to join more than 100 universities across the globe as fair trade designated campuses. UBC was the first university in Canada to attain the designation in early 2011, making the commitment to buy fair trade coffee, tea, chocolate, and fruit. Small-scale farmers in developing countries organize in cooperatives with fair trade accreditation empowering them to invest in their farms and communities, protect the environment, improve trading conditions, and promote sustainability. They develop the business skills necessary
to compete in the global marketplace—advocating higher prices, and enhancing the social, economic, environmental, and cultural well being of communities both locally and globally. The UBC designation was made possible with the help of its chapter of Engineers Without Borders. Fair Trade Canada is the Canadian arm of the global non-profit fair trade certification system, encouraging individuals and organizations to purchase ethically sourced consumer goods. Fair trade products were first implemented in student union eateries in 2004 and by UBC Food Services outlets in 2006. Due to popular demand from students, UBC has since developed sustainable purchasing principles, created a code of conduct for suppliers, and offer fair trade chocolate,
tea, and fruit on the menus of more than 20 campus food outlets. Because of these provisions, the university complied with most of the requirements for accreditation as a fair trade campus; it was only missing a committee charged with a mission to promote fair trade awareness and action. Having done so, they finalized the process in spring 2011. Universities must take several steps before starting the accreditation process—all of which present different benefits and challenges. All campus coffee must be fair trade-certified; in addition, three varieties of fair trade tea and one chocolate bar must be available wherever coffee is offered. Other outlets are encouraged to offer fair trade certified products. In the past, such products were hard to get, given low availability and high prices. But with growing awareness, there are now many different options. Prices are levelling out. And campuses are able to make the change with little or no cost increase. What’s difficult for universities is deciding which products to offer—with both social and environmental movements in full force, many companies are certifying themselves in different areas of the
“As individuals, we can help shape the world of the future through our choices.”
economic chain. Labels have different meanings and conform to different standards. “Campuses need to do their due diligence in understanding labels and claims and deciding what they stand behind,” says Sean McHugh, executive director of the Canadian Fair Trade Network, an organization aimed to help schools strategize their accreditation plans. “The best way of knowing,” McHugh says, “is by asking questions and researching.” Campuses must also create a fair trade committee whose purpose is to encourage the fair trade movement among its students and the surrounding community. The committee monitors the university’s ethical direction by instituting new policies cohesive with Fairtrade Canada’s regulations. “The designation program as a whole,” McHugh says, “is all about how we think about global issues and our own position within the larger global community, our ability to create change, the choices we make, and having our own values align with our behaviour,” says McHugh. Purchasing fair trade as individuals, McHugh suggests, helps educate young members of society about the impacts of our global system. As individuals, we can help shape the world of the future through our choices. UBC feeds 70,000 people on the average day and consumes more than 11,000 pounds of fair trade coffee annually, giving it the kind of purchasing power to make a large-scale difference—not only in the lives of their suppliers, but in the kind of influence it exerts on other universities and communities nationally. “The recognition of UBC as Canada’s first fair trade campus sets an example for other campuses across the country,” says Michael Zelmer of Fair Trade Canada. “[It] further demonstrates Canadians’ commitment to fairness and respect for the farmers and artisans who produce the products we enjoy.” Trinity Western University is in the process of acquiring fair trade designation. The International Social Justice Club (ISJC), a student-led initiative, became more familiar with the social movement last year when UBC received its accreditation. ISJC opened dialogue with TWU’s food service provider, Sodexo, about the quality of the products it offers on campus and the importance of the switch
to fair trade. Through research, ISJC executive members discovered Sodexo is under contract with Starbucks for coffee and tea service. Because of this, Sodexo will not be able to offer more fair trade options until the contract expires—a common difficulty faced by universities trying to acquire the designation. “Even though we’re not fair trade accredited yet,” says Kate Healey, vice-president of ISJC, “we are bringing it in in small ways. It’s easy to buy a product and be ignorant of its origins, but there is so much that can happen if we choose the unethi-
cal route, causing harm and pain to others when it can be easily avoided.” There has been a lot of speculation about the efficiency of the fair trade system. Some economists suggest price stabilization would distort markets. McHugh, however, thinks otherwise. “In the U.S. market,” he says, “artificial pricing is already happening—the U.S. government subsidises products like milk to keep prices down, to keep the market competitive.” While it’s expensive for producers and companies alike to gain certification, depending on the product, much of the cost of certification goes back to the producers’ cooperatives. There, the funds provide community necessities, such as education and health care. Due to the outpouring of support from consumers, fair trade is moving beyond universities and small businesses to large-scale companies. The intent of the fair trade system is to rid the supply chain of middlemen, which cost both the producer and the buyer money; connect them directly and streamline the process. If the system works as it’s supposed to, there should be a ten-fold increase in financial return, McHugh explains, because there isn’t anyone else in the supply chain. The system also helps companies manage transparency and risk in terms of issues with wage and working conditions of the producers from whom they buy their products. Fair trade is meant to tackle poverty. If companies choose to operate ethically, McHugh continues, producers in developing nations won’t need our aid if they are earning what they deserve for their products. Starbucks, the biggest global coffee provider, has noticed these benefits and has implemented a plan to be “100 percent ethically-sourced by 2015.”
Each year the company will increase the amount of fair trade coffee it purchases. The company states on its website that it purchased 34.3 million pounds of fair trade-certified coffee in 2011. While that ends up being only eight percent of the 428 million pounds it purchased last year, it’s still enough to make a significant impact on the industry and on the lives of tens of thousands of coffee-bean producers. But student fair trade activists insist that it’s still not enough. “We may be opposed to slavery when it is blatantly in front of us,” says Allison Montgomery, president of ISJC, “when we read about the slave trade, or hear about sex slaves caught in the trade today. But the reality,” she continues, “is that slavery is occurring in many of these industries that we interact with regularly. People are enslaved in factories, in plantations, and on fields; slavery is not just in the past, it is happening today in all sorts of forms, and it is still just as wrong.” As North American society continues to push for equal and just ways to function in our globalized world, where our interconnectivity has brought much wealth, diverse cultures, languages, and foods, many university students believe it’s imperative to take the issue of fair trade seriously. “We need to make just choices to take a stand against these injustices,” says Montgomery. North Americans enjoy many aspects of our consumer lifestyle at the expense of the poor around the world, she believes. “We are exploiting people and land for the stuff we’re consuming,” she says. “Fair
“Slavery is not just in the past, it is happening today in all sorts of forms, and it is still just as wrong.” trade shouldn't be an option, it should be a standard.” The fair trade movement has the potential to dominate the economy, McHugh believes, but in order to do so it requires everyone to exercise their right as global citizens. “In a world often dominated by the interests of the elite or the status quo,” McHugh says, “our power as consumers shines through as an effective way to make our mark on the world. Buying fair trade says, ‘I support a world of equality, opportunity, and environmental sustainability,’ and works to put pressure on other actors within the global system to begin making changes. Fair trade offers us a way to align our values with our behaviours,” McHugh continues. “It allows us to ensure a better world for the future.” If our world is finite, he says, we must work toward creating a new system— “A closed system that restores and reuses, rather than one that exploits and throws away. Buying fair trade,” McHugh says, “is a simple step and a first step to building the world of the future.”
TRAUMA COUNSELLING HELPS RCMP OFFICERS COPE WITH THE STRESS OF THE JOB.
BRYCE PERRY Dale Pinchin, retired after 30 years of service with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, has seen a lot. “Innards splattered all over the road,” he says. “Brains splattered all over the windshield. Dealing with people who’ve seen their loved ones dead or dying—that’s pretty tough for a lot of people to take.”It sounds like a Hollywood horror film but, for many police officers, it’s an all-too-familiar day on the job. Witnessing such gruesome scenes would be enough to induce severe trauma in anyone. Some officers are able to leave the stress back at the station. But with nearly 70,000 police officers in Canada as of 2011, according to Statistics Canada, it’s safe to say some experience post-traumatic stress disorder and bring their PTSD home to their families. “If you’ve gone through it all, you don’t want it to go on,” Pinchin says. “So you don’t want to bring it home.” While some officers share details of their work with their spouses, many don’t. “If you’re out on patrol,” Pinchin says, “you’re spending eight to 12 hours partnered up with somebody. You’re spending a lot of time with [your partner] so you’re going to share thoughts. You don’t usually spend eight to 12 hours with your spouse just sitting and talking.” Anyone, shift workers especially, knows routine can challenge communication in any relationship. All things considered, few of us spend more than seven drowsy hours with our families, and not much of it actually talking. We spend more time fully conscious and talkative with our colleagues. “You’ve got to share your life with your family,” Pinchin says. “For most of us [family] should be our lives, not a tangent to our lives.” Carolyn Burns, a trauma counselor, has worked with RCMP officers for over 20 years. Most recent-
ly, she has invested five years in her own counseling and consulting business. Putting family first, she says, is often a challenge for police officers. “They can become very close,” Burns says. Often, they’re sharing problems and getting support from each other. Sometimes, one area of support may hinder another. “The spouse may feel more disconnected,” Burns says, “and even more cut off. There’s such a tight culture within policing. If the spouse is a non-officer there could be this ‘us and them’ mentality. The support that the officer will get then will come primarily from other officers.” Given such intimate sharing, Burns and Pichin agree that officers often develop a deeper bond with their colleagues than with their families. “I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding in families in terms of the impact of the work,” Burns says. “There are reasons officers shut down emotionally. It’s very protective. There’s the desire to protect their family from what they’re exposed to. There are specific responses to stress and to trauma that officers will exhibit. If family don’t know why or what’s going on, they don’t learn how to support.” Additionally, Burns says, “the police culture trains officers to suppress their emotions so that they appear in control,” regardless of circumstances. “It’s a coping mechanism,” she says. “Some officers learn to shut down their emotion whenever they start to feel it.” Stress management, therefore, is preferable to suppressing their emotions. But even the best stress management training will not guarantee unfailing results. Stress adds up and officers still struggle with those stressors. “The ideal police officer, in terms of the police culture,” Burns says, “is one who’s strong, tough, and self reliant.” What if you believe you’re sup-
posed to be in control, that you’re supposed to suppress your emotions—and you can’t? “There can be this big stigma about how ‘I’m weak’ or ‘I don’t want to tell anyone because I don’t want them to judge me,’” Burns says. Pinchin, who served in the RCMP from 1962 to 1989, tells of a fellow officer who began to avoid a key aspect of his job: “He was a good guy and a good cop,” Pinchin says. “A traffic guy who couldn’t stand the sight of blood. This guy couldn’t take it, so he would avoid it.” The officer in question would not respond immediately when called to the scene of an accident—since the first officer on scene deals with the accident itself, while the second stands back, directing traffic. “He would almost have to
“If you want to be involved in activities inconsistent with a good and faithful spouse, you’ll find opportunities.” hide to put somebody else there first,” says Pinchin. Such avoidance led other police officers to view him as a poor worker. In a culture with the idea of control so engrained within its DNA that to stray from it displays weakness, an officer feels he must keep a traumatic issue to himself. Such a culture seems to be simultaneously weighed-down and held together by an unrealistic expectation of “strength.” While such expectations are still at issue within the force, Burns believes the culture is shifting. “My impression of the newer generation of police officers,” she says, “seems to be that they have a lot less stigma around accessing help. They don’t seem to see it as a sign of weakness.” At least, it seems not to be as big an issue as it was for an older generation
of officers. Despite a healthy maturity, or softening, of the organization, however, the world of policing is still full of stressors. The RCMP does fund counseling for its police officers, but some officers prefer to pay out of pocket. “Although there’s a promise of confidentiality, like there would be anywhere,” Burns says, “there’s sometimes a perception [among officers] that if the RCMP find out, it could affect their promotion, work, or job. So they decide to actually go and pay for their own counseling.” Others attend counseling for a different reason. “Sometimes they come in,” explains Burns, “not because they believe they need help, but because they’ve been given an ultimatum by family: ‘You go for counseling or we’re not an item anymore.’” Some officers are surprised by such ultimatums because they don’t recognize that their communication—or lack thereof—has become an issue. Pinchin doesn’t blame the job itself for marital difficulties. Nor does he believe infidelity is endemic among police officers. Despite the challenges, the fault, he believes, always lies with the individual. “If you want to be involved in activities inconsistent with a good and faithful spouse,” Pinchin says, “you’ll find opportunities. But do you blame the job?” Opportunities abound in any walk of life. As a past member of a coordinated law enforcement unit, Pinchin worked with officers from multiple detachments. “In that atmosphere,” he says, “there were guys who had great marriages and family relationships. Other guys may have had marital breakdowns for various reasons. It’s very easy to say it was the job.” Nonetheless, the individual makes choices and acts in certain ways. The job is only a key to a door that officers decide to walk through on their own—just as they decide to walk through the door to trauma counselling. As Pinchin puts it, “We’re all responsible for what we do.”
PREMIERE MANUFACTURER, IAN RITZ, HARNESSED HIS PASSION FOR MOUNTAIN BIKING AND MADE A CAREER OUT OF IT
REECE WALLACE Quality, commitment, community. These characteristics describe Ian Ritz, owner and founder of Chromag, a mountain bike company born and bred in the ski resort town of Whistler, British Columbia. Chromag Bikes specializes in steel frame fabrication and high-end bicycle components. They design and manufacture five lines of bicycle frames, three handle bars, eight seats, and many other components group sets from the ground up. Chromag has gained a loyal following since its inception in 2003 and continues to grow on the local and international stage through its development of product design, increased sales, marketing, and distribution. Ritz is the man behind the action. “As the owner of Chromag Bikes,” Ritz says, “I oversee all aspects of the company and specialize in product design and management.” Four employees work under him at the head office and distribution center in the industrial district of Function Junction in Whistler’s south side. The office, a modestlooking building, features a carved wooden bear beside the front door, accompanied by a bike rack full of his creations. Bear artwork adorns the windows. Chromag represents the local community through and through. It’s common for beats to blast from the opened garage door on a warm day, with visitors eager to see Chromag’s inner workings. From Ritz’s product testers and sponsored athletes, to the grizzly bear logo of his company,
every aspect reflects the mountain lifestyle and the company’s relaxed image. Before Chromag, “I started and ran a retail store for eight years,” Ritz says. This store, Evolution, is arguably Whistler’s most popular ski, snowboard, and mountain bike store. Evolution, like Chromag, emphasizes art, culture, and mountain lifestyle. Evolution is littered with graffiti, classic and contemporary art, as well as numerous photos of its local customers. Ritz’s sister and mother both played a vital role in the artistic personalities of Evolution and Chromag by designing their logos.
“It was a great act of faith.” “It was a great experience,” Ritz reflects, “to start and run Evolution. Learning about the product I wanted to create, selling to people, understanding the market, and learning the financial aspect of running a business.” These skills were invaluable in aiding him with the creation of Chromag Bikes. After years of seeing what worked and what didn’t, and what the local cliental base was looking for, Ritz began his new venture by selling his share of Evolution to his sister. Upon starting Chromag, Ritz was faced with numerous challenges. “Discovering how to physically create product based on our designs, reaching a market for the products, and understanding the finances and building a plan around that,” Ritz says, were among his largest obstacles. Although
Chromag’s products are mostly manufactured in BC, outsourcing production of larger quantities to factories overseas was a challenge but a necessity for the business to be cost effective. Fortunately, through networking and experience, Ritz met the challenge and was able to outsource some production to a reputable manufacturing facility in Taiwan. Designing bicycle frames and components is no easy task; mechanical engineering software is used in combination with physical drawings, specifications, and intimate knowledge of bicycle geometry. “Making the actual product posed many obstacles as well,” Ritz says. “Learning how to communicate technically [with manufacturers], and learning what was and wasn’t possible took many hours of searching and study, and still does!” Since Chromag is located in Whistler, there are few manufacturing resources. “Searching for production partners continues to be a challenge,” Ritz says. Ritz is one of only a handful of people who have started and successfully run their own bicycle and component business. “I made a great time commitment,” Ritz says. “I worked years without pay and committed all of my savings. When I started,” he says, “I had no money for advertising and I had to be creative. Communicating to the market through friends and community as well as simply cold calling retailers, publications, and anyone else who could spread our word,” were first steps while the budget was tight. “Finan-
cially it was very challenging. It was a great act of faith,” Ritz says. Ritz’s dedication to Chromag is apparent in his passion for cycling and constructing a community where he can work. “I believe it is important to be passionate about what you are doing,” Ritz says. He has harnessed his passion and made a career out of it. Even more impressively, Ritz has no formal education in business, engineering, or finance. Many people study these disciplines at post-secondary institutions and are still unsuccessful in their business ventures. Ritz has learned everything through hands-on experience. “The greatest opportunities to learn are from the people around you,” Ritz says, “or by seeking out people who have the experience you are looking for.” Ritz has spent countless hours studying engineering books, reviewing universal bicycle standards, attending trade shows and meetings. Trial and error have honed his skills and allow Ritz to excel above the rest. Chromag is one of the world’s premiere bicycle and component manufacturers within a dynamic marketplace. “Be honest with yourself,” Ritz advises, “and constantly analyze the circumstances. The desire to work hard and learn will lead you to achieve success,” he says. “Whether or not you attend university, the information is out there. If you are motivated to find it, you will.”
good help is hard to find for trans* individuals, sex reassignment surgery is a waiting game.
ASHLEY KILIAN Unless you spend your days reading LGBT news, you probably haven’t heard that British Columbia, Canada, just added bottom surgery to its list of covered medical services for Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS) candidates in October 2012. For those of us whose genders fall perfectly in-line with our outward appearance, this news is seemingly of no importance. It is, however, a huge step, and a great relief for trans* individuals considering SRS. As small, excessively religious towns would have it, opportunities to meet gender non-conforming individuals are few and far between. I was privileged to meet Ariel five years ago, when he was a lesbian working at the local Chapters bookstore. On a recent trip to Victoria, BC, Ariel casually discussed the joys and woes of taking depo-testosterone. Though it had been almost a year since Ariel made the switch from female to male pronouns, it hadn’t occurred to me that he might be in the process of a more visible transformation. “I decided I wanted to go on hormones in April after considering it for a while and not pursuing it only because I
was scared,” he explains. “I was scared of being cut off from my family and having a hard time in society even though it was what I really wanted.” I had always assumed that most medical plans didn’t cover surgeries or hormone treatments for trans* people. As it turns out, Canada is much more progressive than I had imagined—some provinces more than others. See: Alberta, who cut its funding for SRS in 2009. Most (with the exception of maritime provinces P.E.I., Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick) cover some form of surgery related to sex reassignment. This seems like a victory for trans* people everywhere, but these surgeries come with more than their fair share of obstacles. In BC, with a population of 4, 650,000 people, only one doctor performs sex reassignment surgery. “Top surgery has been covered for a couple of years now, but the waiting list is huge,” Ariel says. “It can take up to three years.” Even if more doctors were qualified or willing to perform these surgeries, a big stumbling block for potential SRS candidates is British Columbia’s medical plan. BC’s Medical Services Plan’s lengthy assessment
of eligibility starts with counseling to determine whether a person has Gender Identity Disorder. After a positive diagnosis, prospective sex reassignment surgery patients complete two years of “real life experience” (RLE), where they begin to live as their identified gender. After two years of real life experience, they may apply for a second mental health assessment, which must be completed by two different MSP-approved assessors; these counselors determine SRS eligibility and readiness. Following the required appointments and two years of RLE, MSP will review the case and assess coverage—this is MSP’s ideal timeline for the initial stages of SRS assessment. “The whole process has been the most frustrating experience of my life,” says Ariel, who has had the misfortune of waiting even longer than expected. “It took me a year to get my letters of approval from doctors, and I just received my coverage letter from MSP, which took them five months
“People don’t see it as a medical emergency but it seriously affects my quality of life.” to get to me,” he says. “I feel like nobody appreciates the urgency of my situation,” he continues. “People don’t see it as a medical emergency but it seriously affects my quality of life.” Currently, Ariel is still waiting to be placed on the waitlist for his consultation with Dr. Cameron Bowman, the only BC surgeon who performs sex reassignment surgery. “I’m told this will take about a year, and then another year to actually get the surgery,” says Ariel. “The medical system works against trans* people. There are a lot of fucked up things that the medical system in BC makes us do or say in order to get the care we need.” Like many of Ariel’s other trans* friends, he considers travelling to the U.S. for surgery within a much shorter timeframe. “It costs about $5000,” Ariel notes, “which for me would be worth it because I need it so badly.” Complications could easily turn a $5000 bill into tens of thousands. “Though I am scared of the complications,” Ariel says, “I think if I died without getting
the surgery it might be one of my biggest regrets in life.” While the province’s health plan is slow to assess medical coverage requests, the process is often expedited when lives are on the line. For MSP, it appears sex reassignment surgery is not viewed as one of those cases. “Sometimes it is the difference between life and death,” Ariel says. “Trans* people need health care services that many people do not consider ‘necessary.’” The urgency behind a request for SRS coverage is impossible to fathom for people not suffering from gender dysphoria. “Many people think you can ‘cure’ gender identity disorder through psychotherapy,” Ariel says. “But the only known and proven way that has, across the board, improved the quality of life for transgender people is to allow us to transition physically,” he claims. “Sex reassignment surgeries help, if not cure gender dysphoria, which should be taken seriously.” The medical system’s slow response to these issues, it seems, stems from society’s inability to understand the need for sex reassignment surgery. The greater problem may be society’s failure to accept and understand trans* people. “In the past few years,” Ariel says, “I’ve gone from being angry for not being accepted, to passively accepting it. Because what else am I going to do?” he asks. The question is clearly rhetorical. Physically, “I know what I want and need to improve my quality of life,” he says. “It frustrates me when people don’t accept that or believe me.” All of MSP’s rules and regulations for SRS, Ariel notes, hint at an underlying belief that trans* people aren’t capable of knowing their own bodies well enough to make this decision—as if people sign up for sex reassignment surgery on a whim. “But, frankly, I have no energy left to be anything more that just frustrated,” he says, “because I can’t live in this world if I’m going to get upset about people not understanding or taking trans* issues seriously.” So he waits.
culture wars In the battle against cultural insensitivity, awareness is a powerful weapon.
second is less obvious to those used to seeing Native American imagery used in this way. But cultural appropriation is offensive in both.
In September 2012, the lingerie company Victoria’s Secret released, and quickly retracted, a line of clothing based on the geisha of the Japanese culture. In November, the company released stills from its Victoria Secret fashion show (slated to air December 4, 2012) that included shots of a “Native American” inspired outfit, complete with headdress, turquoise jewellery and a leopard print bikini. Both of these fashion gaffes are racist. Racist! This accusation is one of the most inflammatory in the liberal West. No one wants to be seen as the intolerant scumbag who has backslid into the primitive hatred of “the other”. But what happens when the art and fashion communities are accused of racism and cultural appropriation? Art and fashion move the society forward, and healthy cultural exchange has always been a part of that movement.
Cultural exchange is the flow of ideas between distinct cultures. A few current examples of this flow include the trends of wearing moccasins, Japanese anime and manga culture, and the melding of cultures in our Western melting pot. The art and fashion communities, who push the boundaries of acceptability, have generally spearheaded this exchange. Cultural appropriation happens when these two powerhouses push too far and begin to take more than the culture is willing to share. Within Canada and the US, appropriation happens most often when First Nations imagery and culture is taken and used in ways the original culture has not approved. But it also occurs within Japanese, Indian, Chinese, and other immigrant cultures. In the Victoria’s Secret examples, It’s easy to see why the use of the geisha is inappropriate, but the
symbols. The geisha, however, is a restricted Japanese cultural symbol. Despite the aesthetic appeal, it’s off limits. Overt sexualisation of cultural imagery, a la Victoria’s Secret? Not okay. Most cultural Halloween costumes, in which women of colour are portrayed as mere sexual playthings? Racist. To commodify a culture for fashion’s sake is offensive and harmful to the original culture, as cultural appropriation invalidates minority cultures by reinforcing stereotypes. Here’s where cultural appropriation gets trickier. Cultural appropriation generally only goes one way: the majority culture takes a restricted symbol from a minority culture. In North America, the majority culture is predominantly Caucasian. Start the cries of reverse racism, because the majority culture is not off limits. It’s hard to find anything appropriated from the majority culture that has been found offensive. The effect of colonization was that the dominant culture (generally of European origin) was, well, the dominant culture. Members of minority cultures were assimilated into the European cul-
These interactions … can set the stage and create a model for any company in the future to follow Way back in the history books, Europe decided it needed to expand its influence over the rest of the world, and colonized most areas of the globe. Colonization led, incidentally, to the oppression of the indigenous cultures within colonized areas. Yes, that’s old news. Haven’t we moved past it? Sorry, but these cultures view appropriation as just another form of oppression. When a member of another culture (particularly the majority culture) takes a cultural symbol and subverts or minimizes it into a fashion statement, people begin to take offense — because appropriation isn’t just about making a fashion statement. Appropriation takes a “sacred” (for lack of a better term) image or icon, and uses it in a way that demeans the original culture. In Japanese culture, anime and manga (two related styles of animation and drawing) are free to the world, as neither are restricted cultural
ture, and, particularly in North America, usually against their will. Assimilation has had at least two effects. First, minorities will protect their culture tooth and nail against appropriation. They’ve been down that road before. Second, the majority culture, to some degree, is everyone’s culture. It may be an imposed culture, but it is still nearly universal. Restricted symbols within the majority culture, such as a Medal of Honour, or a soldier’s burial, remain restricted because minority cultures are also a part of the majority culture, and understand the meaning and significance of these symbols. Weird, isn’t it? That’s colonialism for you. So how do we begin navigating between cultural appropriation and healthy cultural exchange? Paul Frank, the fashion company, celebrated “Fashion’s Night Out” in September 2012 with
Appropriation takes a ‘sacred’ icon, and uses it in a way that demeans the original culture
university travel studies take students out of the classroom and into the world. its “Dream Catchin’ Pow-wow” party. Partygoers dressed up as “Indians”. They wore feather headdresses and brandished faux tomahawks. The company posted 1,000-plus images from the event on its Facebook page. War whoops, mock scalping. The drink menus featured the “Raindance Refresher” and the “Neon Teepee”. The images were removed shortly thereafter and the company issued a short apology to Native Americans. Why? The writer behind the blog “Native Appropriations”, who chooses to be known as Adrienne K., sent a letter to Paul Frank management. In it, she described her reactions to the photos. She felt, she says, “like someone had punched me in the stomach.” She deconstructed specific offensive aspects of the party. “The bottom line is this,” she says. “Your event stereotypes and demeans Native cultures.” After having so many of her letters ignored in the past, Adrienne was genuinely shocked to receive an email from Elie Dekel, president of Saban Brands, which acquired Paul Frank in 2010. Dekel invited Adrienne to voice her objections, to speak into the company and help ensure against such cul-
tural insensitivity. In a phone meeting with Dekel, Adrienne discussed the issues at play. Afterward, she called Dekel “gracious, sincere, and kind from the beginning, and truly apologetic.” As a result of Adrienne’s activism, Paul Frank has removed all Native American imagery from its style guide, taken down the “Native inspired” designs from its online presence, and committed to collaborating with the Native community to avoid such mishaps in the future. “I’m seriously still in disbelief,” Adrienne says on her blog. “This is beyond a best case scenario. This is taking a relatively isolated event, and bringing it to a history-making level. These interactions with Mr. Dekel and Paul Frank can set the stage and create a model for any company in the future to follow.”
CHERI BROWN A group of young adults runs frantically up a hill in Austria, searching for an address. The leader asks directions from two people on the street, points to a map and receives a vague response in broken English. Without much confidence, they carry on, stopping twice more for directions and backtracking once as they find themselves at a dead-end street near an old factory. Finally, they locate the elusive building, bearing the distinctive blue flags of the University of Vienna. They rush upstairs to the lecture room, out of breath, and 45 minutes late. They are warmly welcomed with a kind smile by a professor with a German accent. This is not an episode of The Amazing Race. These young adults, who will be lost and confused more than once on this trip, are undergraduate psychology students from Canada. Their travel study, hosted by Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia, is led by their professor, Charles Macknee, PhD. They have just learned a hard lesson: that, while your instructions say your lecture will be held at the University of Vienna, it’s not necessarily on the main campus, the enormous converted, former Vienna Hospital. A dozen other campuses, each housing different faculties, are
scattered throughout the city. One of the challenges of a travel study in a foreign country is getting around—something we take for granted in familiar surroundings. To learn their bearings, the transit system, and how to read German signs were some survival skills the group developed immediately upon arrival for their onemonth expedition in Europe. Macknee, brave leader of the 16 young adults, guides them through course material and lectures, and along the unique learning curve of navigation in a foreign country. “People need to learn about themselves and face their own fears,” Macknee says. “At first, people are nervous about exploring on their own because it’s new and different, but they will figure it out. We all need to find our inner resources. Every person on a travel study discovers they can do something they didn’t think they could.” Over the span of one month, the group traveled across four countries and to many cities by trains, planes, subways, buses, streetcars, and taxis, soaking in the sights of Europe. They toured museums, and attended sessions at psychological institutes and training centres. Some debriefings and class lectures were held on the train, sitting on the lawn
“Education is more than just a classroom; it’s about living life, and learning about life together.” of a church, perched in a narrow stairwell, or gathered in the lounge of one of the larger hotel rooms with a card game afterwards to wrap up—not your typical day in a classroom. This is Macknee’s third time hosting the trip. “I learn something new every time, which makes it invigorating,” he says. Macknee first got involved in retreat courses and travel studies because he believes in the impact of the added dimensions that students experience while traveling and studying together. “It gives you an opportunity,” he says, “to get to know each other and then the class goes beyond some little room. It’s far more experiential and immediate,” he says. “It’s about adjusting as things happen and having the opportunity to meet different people and experience historical places. It gives you a different lens to look at some of the psychologists we study.” Students embarking on a travel study anticipate
they will experience certain things firsthand, but the value of that process can be enormous. For example, the group went to Dachau Concentration Camp in Germany to study the psychological impact of the Holocaust. “You can’t really understand it in the same way until you are there,” Macknee says. “You can read all about it and hear people’s stories, but when you are there and you experience it, it’s powerful.” Natasha Obzera, a student with a disability, sees the horrors of Dachau through her unique personal perspective. The tour guide lectures about the Nazi party’s motives to purify the gene pool towards creation of a supreme Aryan race. “I wouldn’t have had a chance,” Obzera remarks to another student. “You are so strong, you would have been a good worker. But I would have been exterminated.” Such facts don’t hit home until she stands on the actual site. Most travel studies require both pre-reading and completion of assignments after the trip, and typically include a reflective journal. Course content differs from a regular semester course because experience is equally if not more important. “We focus way too much on content sometimes instead of the process and the experience,” Macknee says. “Almost half the grade is based on participation and journal. You’re there, you’re experiencing it, so what are you getting out of the experience and what are you contributing to the experience?” Gretchen Johnson, Educational Services Manager and Travel Studies Coordinator for TWU, echoes the significance of participation and taking notes in
“People need to learn about themselves and face their own fears.” the form of journals. “Students use their time at the destination to engage with people, getting information and synthesizing experiences, lectures, places they’ve gone, and people they’ve met,” she says. “In that context, the course is delivered and the course objectives and academic outcomes are met. The destination is your classroom.” Emily Zmak, who undertook a travel study to Israel this year, agrees that every day is like Christmas morning. You never know what to expect — one of the most exciting aspects of the trip. “Israel was amazing,” she says. “The people, the weather, the scenery, the politics, and the organizations we encountered were very inspirational. I hope others get the chance to visit there one day, because there are certainly thousands of stories waiting to be told.” Johnson is enthusiastic about the constantly evolving and expanding travel study program. TWU currently offers some 20 trips, eight or nine of which run each summer. “We are always engaging instructors in conversations about potential new studies,” she says. “Our goal is for every department to have a travel study.” TWU also offers “Best Semester,” sponsored by the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities, a program in which students study abroad for an entire semester. Students can also complete work experience practica or internships abroad for university credit. As the contact person for TWU, Johnson advises students, goes through a checklist with them, and streamlines registration and finances. The Laurentian Leadership Centre, an internship program in Ottawa, is yet another option open to TWU students. Students combine regular classes at TWU’s extension campus in the nation’s capital with working positions on Parliament Hill or with
various non-governmental organizations. Johnson stresses the far-reaching impact she has witnessed. “Years down the road, students reference this time in their life,” she says. “You start to appreciate how transformational and deeply impressing the experience was on you as a person. Your perspective changes; your worldview is broadened. You’re not only appreciating the diverse world we live in but you’re learning in an environment where you have to pay attention to everything that is going on. And you’re learning new skills, transferable skills, when you get into your career.” The unique abilities gained by students while traveling and studying bring added benefits to their future employment. “Employers know students with these types of experiences carry with them very valuable skills that set them apart,” Johnson says. “Not only in how they think critically, but in how they understand and learn. They tend to stand out as the employees who have figured out how to relate better to others because they’ve had to learn how to understand other cultures, to fit in somehow with a community that is different from them, in a different culture and country.” Imagine for a moment going on safari in Africa — for university credit. Or touring a castle in Germany straight out of a Disney movie. Or visiting art galleries and museums in London and Paris, and attending musical and theatre performances. Trips like these, offered by TWU and many universities across Canada, offer credit for subjects as varied as psychology, religious studies, fine arts, business, nursing, and education. Travel study programs deliver education from the classroom to the world, offering practical realworld learning opportunities — milestones in their students’ lives. Travel study leader Macknee emphasizes the value of experiential learning. “To me, education is more than just a classroom; it’s about living life, and learning about life together,” he says. “A really important thing is widening perspective. That’s what education is about.”
“The most unbalanced people I have ever met are those who have devoted themselves to healthy eating.”
WHILE ORTHOREXICS ARE FIXATED ON EATING HEALTHY FOOD, THE PROBLEM IS ROOTED IN DEEPER ISSUES.
LAUREN BERSALGIO Eggs, non-fat milk, wholegrain bread, all-natural peanut butter, lettuce, cashew nuts, health cereal and fat free organic yogurt—these seem like normal, healthy items for a grocery list, but what if they were the only things on your list? “It was not about food at all. It was all about control,” says Katy Boorman, a 22-year-old university student from Wellington, New Zealand. It was during a relapse into anorexia when Katy’s desire to eat healthy crossed the line into something more serious. “I realized that I couldn’t starve, so I ate really healthy foods and exercised every single day,” says Katy. “It was different from my anorexia because my routine was so rigid. I ate three square meals a day at the same time every day and exercised twice a day.” Katy’s behaviours are known now as “orthorexia”—a term coined by holistic physician, Steven Bratman, M.D., which is constructed from the word “ortho,” meaning: straight, correct, and true. According to Bratman, orthorexia nervosa refers to a “pathological fixation on eating proper food.”
“Many of the most unbalanced people I have ever met are those who have devoted themselves to healthy eating,” says Bratman in his article for Yoga Journal entitled “Health Food Junkie.” Bratman says, “In fact, I believe some of them have actually contracted a novel eating disorder.” “The orthorexic’s inner life becomes dominated by efforts to resist temptation,” Bratman says in the article. “Self-condemnation for lapses, self-praise for success at complying with the chosen regime, and feelings of superiority over others less pure in their dietary habits.” “It stole my entire personality,” says Katy, “and made me an incredibly bitchy person.” Katy avoided all foods that were fried, high in sugar, or processed. “I ate as ‘clean’ as possible,” she says, “I could eat oatmeal, fruit, sandwiches, vegetables, and meat. I basically had chicken, salad, and potatoes every day for dinner.” And she measured every portion. “It was very much a form of addiction,” she adds, “and a way of managing my anxiety while numbing my feelings.” As with any addiction, it impact-
ed Katy’s life on multiple levels. “I rarely ever saw my friends or went to parties,” she says, “and if I did, it had to be organized well in advance.” In addition, Katy and her boyfriend broke up and her relationship with her family was filled with fighting because of her irritability. “Eating only healthy foods gave me a way to feel powerful over others and feel in control of my situations,” says Tayla James, a 19-year-old college student from Bangor, Maine. Tayla’s orthorexia developed during her anorexia. “It basically added to my eating disorder,” she says, “because it was another behaviour I had and couldn’t let go of.” She used this behaviour as a way to ease her anxiety, obsessing over the avoidance of anything labelled in her mind as “unhealthy” such as sugary foods, most meat, and pizza. Her rules included eating only organic foods and nothing artificial, and she would only use all-natural body products. Her diet consisted mainly of vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, yogurt, sprouted grain breads, and chicken. As the quality of Tayla’s diet increased, the quality of her life decreased. “Socially, I felt like an oddball, and often left out,” she says. “People would judge me on my food and ask me why I was so healthy.” Tayla’s own rules contributed to her feelings of isolation. Eating in restaurants was out of the question as well as any family gatherings where she didn’t know what was being served. In addition, she would cook her own dinners, never eating with her family. Scott Gramke, a 19-year-old college student from Phoenix, Arizona, developed orthorexia during his struggle with anorexia and it continued when his anorexic behaviours stopped. “I consider [my anorexia and my orthorexia] to be very interrelated,” he says.
While his restrictions on “unhealthy” foods and his obsession with eating “right” were focused around food, the problem itself was actually rooted in much deeper issues. Unlike Katy, Scott found his orthorexia caused him more anxiety, because he constantly spent his time trying to avoid situations where he couldn’t stick to his rigid eating habits, as well as trying to justify his eating behaviours. When his family was preparing dinner, he always made his way into the kitchen to modify his own food—omitting the butter, using less oil, serving up less food for himself. Eventually Scott’s family banned him from the kitchen entirely. “Even after I was banned I tried to find out what was being put into what I was eating,” he says. On Scott’s list of foods to avoid were: anything containing dairy fat or high levels of carbs, and any bread products that were not whole grain. He didn’t eat pizza or any dishes with cream and he ate his salads without dressing. “It was hard for me to focus on enjoying myself [at social events],” he says, “because I was too busy worrying about the food I was going to have to eat. Whenever I ate out,” Scott recalls, “I was in a very bad mood because I was anxious and agitated. This is still a struggle for me today.” Katy, Tayla, and Scott are not alone. According to the National Eating Disorder Information Centre of Canada, 1 in 2 girls and 1 in 3 boys engage in unhealthy methods to control appetite and weight. The big question is: Where is the line drawn? When does “healthy” become “obsessed”? And can good intentions lead to behaviours that cause more harm than good? In my own case, I realized I’d crossed the line when I discovered that my commitment to healthy eating was really an addiction. Rather than being in control, I realized, I was completely out of control. My orthorexia began when I, like Katy, found it too difficult to keep my anorexia a secret. In my mind I was being healthy, but in reality, I had simply replaced one unhealthy obsession with another. I had a strict list of guidelines and rules when it came to eating and, rather than enjoying the experience of simply feeding myself, I enjoyed the rigidity of my obsessive diet.
Some of my restrictions included: no red meat, no cheese, only non-fat milk and dairy products, no white flour, no (or minimal) oil, absolutely nothing fried, and only brown rice. I wouldn’t use salad dressing; instead I used either lemon juice or flavoured vinegar. In addition, I convinced myself I was allergic to sugar and avoided all sugary foods. I had a set of rules regarding what I had to consume in a day. This included one non-fat, sugarfree, all natural, probiotic yogurt a day; two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with every meal; five egg whites with one yolk. I became a master calculator—not only of calories, but protein, carbohydrate, and fat content as well. I measured all of my portions with precision. Grocery shopping took hours as I read each and every label to figure out if it fit into my rigid diet. Needless to say, eating out at restaurants was hardly an option for me, as even the thought brought high levels of anxiety and stress. Family holidays were filled with turmoil as I argued with
“Orthorexia stole my entire personality and made me an incredibly bitchy person.” my parents about where, when, and what we were going to eat each day and how I was going to fit in my daily exercise to compensate for my “bad” eating. When I fell off track after being on holiday for a few days or eating out at restaurants too often, I would cleanse. I went on intense detoxes that lasted as long as a week. These cleanses consisted of nothing but blended raw fruits and vegetables. I somehow thought this would make me “good” again. Ironically, people praised me for it. “Good for you for having such self-control. Good for you for being so healthy,” they said. Little did they know. Orthorexia is so easy to hide. Because it is one of the least common forms of eating disorders, even if people see the signs, they don’t know how to label it. In a 2011 study done by the Department of Psychology at the Catholic University of Leuven in Tienen, Belgium, professionals in the eating dis-
order field were polled to gather their views on orthorexia and lesser-known eating disorders. Nearly 67% of the professionals observed cases of orthorexia in their own practices—the highest result of any of the eating disorders discussed—with 68% stating that orthorexia deserves more attention and research. There is a lot of controversy over whether orthorexia should make it into a future edition of the DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). Without labelling orthorexia as a clinical eating disorder, it will be more difficult for patients to receive appropriate care and insurance coverage for their recovery. However, it is premature to add it to the DSM-V. Sufficient research about recovery from this disorder is required, or it could do more harm than good. Clearly—as can be seen by the reflections of those who have experienced orthorexia—recovery from this disorder needs to focus on more than just food. One must deal with both the symptoms (restricting, bingeing, purging) and the root problems (low self-esteem, guilt, shame). One must ask oneself why one feels the need to eat “perfectly,” because it’s not just about the food. And so one must address the inner issues behind his or her obsessive eating behaviours in order to fully recover. I, along with the others, sought professional counselling. The food can’t be forgotten, though. Part of recovery involves learning to feed yourself again. Healthy eating is not determined by what you eat as much as why you are eating it. For some people eating a salad for lunch could be a healthy thing. During the stage of my life when I struggled with orthorexia, however, eating a salad was the least healthy thing I could do. I needed to let go of my obsessions and pick up a piece of pizza instead. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to healthy eating. Bratman says he’s given up the belief that one day a universal theory of eating will exist that will match up people with the perfect diet for them. In recovery, however, I learned about Intuitive Eating – an approach originated by dietitian and eating disorder counsellor Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD, and nutritionist Elyse Resch, MS, RD, FADA. In their book Intuitive Eating, Tribole and Resch ex-
plain that this approach to diet revolves around a simple theory of feeding yourself: eat when you are hungry, eat what your body craves, and stop when you are full. It proves time and again to be successful, not just for those recovering from an eating disorder, but for anyone wishing to develop a healthy relationship with food and their body. Katy, Tayla, and Scott follow “Intuitive Eating” as part of their recovery from orthorexia, as do I. Intuitive Eating successfully reverses eating behaviours because it strips eating of any guilt, shame, and regulations. Most importantly, it brings us back to our true selves and allows us to begin trusting ourselves again. We must give up our need for control, and instead, give in to a willingness to become one with our bodies, and to simply feed ourselves. No guilt. No shame. No rules. My orthorexia was about enslavement. It was about a set of laws I had to abide by to be okay— to be enough. Since embracing intuitive eating I’ve learned that I am enough just the way I am. I’ve gained a sense of freedom I never felt possible. I don’t eat brownies every day; although, in the first two weeks of my Intuitive Eating journey my
body wanted nothing but Nanaimo bars—I suppose it was making up for lost time. Instead, my diet is balanced and healthy, not only from a nutritional standpoint, but from an emotional, psychological, and spiritual one as well. Gone are the days of obsessing over protein content and caloric intake, and of missing out on dinners with friends and stressing over family holidays, or controlling my diet as a way to distract myself from feelings of being out-of-control. Most importantly, gone are the days of not showing up for life. I am present, I am happy, I am healthy, and, yes, I am even eating a cookie.
SURREY’S “SANDWICH NAZI” SERVES PREMIUM DELI SANDWICHES WITH A SIDE OF POLITICALLY INCORRECT HUMOUR.
LARISSA KROEKER “God and a sandwich saved my life.” Enlightened residents of Surrey recognize Salam Kahil—also known as the “Sandwich Nazi”—for his delicious three-pound submarine sandwiches, imported European meats and cheeses, and politically incorrect humour. The title “Sandwich Nazi” comes from Salam’s straightforward sign on La Charcuterie’s door: “If you can’t handle nudity or profanity, then don’t come in.” “I don’t put up with complaints,” Salam says. For the past 26 years, he has been serving only the very best ingredients to his customers. He tolerates no accusations that his meats or cheeses aren’t fresh. Recently, Salam suffered a near-death experience that left him thankful for his existence. On July 4, 2012, while driving home after a long day’s work, Salam got stuck in traffic on Highway #1. Within seconds, he was rear-ended by a semi trailer going 80 to 90 kilometres per hour, carrying a 140,000 pound load. “He hit me so hard,” Salam says, “it sounded like a bomb. The very last thing I remember is my Volvo being pushed from the right lane to the left lane and then into the meridian.” When he regained consciousness in-hospital,
the doctors told him there was nothing wrong. Two weeks later, the Sandwich Nazi visited an urgent care centre due to a pain in his chest worsening by the minute. Once again, doctors reassured him he was healthy and should go back to work. On July 20th, Salam woke up in such agony he questioned whether to go to work or stay home. “I came in and was serving a regular customer,”
“There was a beautiful feeling of floating like a feather in the wind.” Salam says. “I told him I was dying—since I knew that I was—so I jumped on my counter to die. It was almost like a switch shut off. There was a beautiful feeling of floating like a feather in the wind.” Just at that moment, a B.C. ambulance supervisor came in for a sandwich, took one look at Salam, and drove him straight to the hospital where he was rushed into the operating room. There, doctors discovered his aorta had been damaged during the original accident. After an 8.5-hour operation,
Salam woke up to learn that if the ambulance crew hadn’t come into his delicatessen exactly when they had, he would have died within minutes. Now, some two months later, the Sandwich Nazi is at it again. “I’m still here,” he says. “Obnoxious as ever. Nothing’s changed.” Salam’s accident has left him with permanent injuries like constant headaches and 2240-decibel tinnitus. “I have a grade two concussion, vessel changes in my brain, white spots on both sides, and I still function. Isn’t that fucking weird? I still show up for work. What an idiot! That’s what I call dedication.” Surprisingly, Salam wasn’t always the “Sandwich Nazi.” Salam was born in Lebanon. “As a kid, I went to a Muslim school,” he says, “and they kicked my ass out. Then they sent me to another Muslim school and they kicked my ass out within a week. Finally they took me to a Catholic school. I was the cutest boy, they took me in instantly.” Salam attended a minimum of three elementary schools a year, always moving around because he was so mischievous. When he emigrated to Canada, he attended the Université de Montréal, where he studied mechanical engineering. “I studied HVAC system design, noise control, sprinkler systems, instrumentation operation, thermodynamics 1 & 2,” he recalls. “I was so bright my professor let me skip the final exam. I solved every exercise in the book.” To pay for his schooling and living expenses, the Sandwich Nazi worked as a gigolo from the age of 14 to 29. What made him decide to become a male escort? “I don’t know,” he says, “I was a cute thing, I guess. But at the age of 29, my beauty was fading,
so I knew I wasn’t going to be a gigolo forever.” When asked why he isn’t a mechanical engineer anymore, Salam responds, “I don’t take orders. Typical Lebanese attitude.” He begins assembling a customer’s sandwich. “You want extra cheese, Derek?” he asks. “Cheese increases your sperm count. You wanna make kids or are you not gonna make kids? Listen, I can volunteer. I have a charge. I’m that serious. I can promise you: one shot does it all.” Salam has a passion for helping the homeless. So when he opened his deli 26 years ago, he made sure to help others. “My motto,” he says, “is give more, expect less, and you’ll always have extra.” On the last Saturday of each month, the Sandwich Nazi’s customers volunteer their time to make 250 sandwiches in less than an hour, and are rewarded with a sandwich for their efforts. After each sandwich is bagged with fruit and dessert, Salam drives to East Hastings and Pigeon Park in downtown Vancouver and hands them out. “I’m not very religious,” he says. “It doesn’t matter how rich you are, I think people should always help people. We would have a way better society [if we didn’t] count on and blame the government to give. The government is too much of a big machine to look after people on the street. People like you and me, we can see it up close, instead of some government worker sitting in his office in the 26th floor in Ottawa.” By helping others, the Sandwich Nazi believes he was spared on the freeway that day. “All of the sandwiches I have been giving to the homeless people paid off.” Salam smiles, looks around his bustling deli, and declares, “I’m a very blessed man.”
“My motto is give more, expect less, and you’ll always have extra.”