July 25, 2023

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FroM THE BLOG SECTION HUmOUR THE UBYSSEY U 02 FEATURES JULY 25, 2023 | VOLUME CV | ISSUE III DR. BREAKFAST SINCE 1918 Dr. Jeannette Armstrong is a storyteller 12 05 11 SCIENCE Accessibility for 2SLGBTQIA+ elders CULTURE Iranian women’s resistance through art SPORTS Seumanutafa siblings rule rugby at UBC 03 NEWS BC pharmacists to prescribe contraception // 8


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have our own voice’ — Dr. Jeannette Armstrong is a storyteller and activist

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After graduating with a BFA from the University of Victoria in 1978, Dr. Jeannette Armstrong threw herself straight into work, turning Syilx history into vibrant stories.

At the En’owkin Centre, a private Indigenous post-secondary institution, Armstrong worked on the Okanagan Indian Curriculum Project which aimed to develop a public school curriculum that represents Okanagan history.

Soon after she started working at the En’owkin Centre, Armstrong — who’s part of the Syilx Okanagan Nation — realized there was a lack of scholarly materials about Indigenous people.

She wanted to change that.

“I worked with the director at the time, who was directing the Syilx curriculum process,” said Armstrong. “I said ‘We need written materials. We need stories for students … instead of a dry history thing.’”

This led to Armstrong writing novels that centred on Indigenous experience — like Enwhisteetkwa (Walk in Water), Neekna and Chemai and Slash — geared toward primary and secondary school students.

Armstrong’s most well-known novel, Slash, was developed for a grade 11 social studies unit on the 1960s–1980s. She said that time period left Indigenous youth inspired by the Black Panther, American Indian and Red Power Movements.

“It was [a time of] real upheaval, and so I wanted to tell our story during that time,” said Armstrong. “My intent is not to try to embody what a young male would be at that time, because I could never do that, but to try to tell that story — of the things that were going on from a very one person perspective, rather than speaking for all Indigenous young men.”

Stories, to Armstrong, are “important and critical to changing how [Indigenous] people think of themselves and how Canadians think of us.”

“We’re tired of being spoken about. We’re tired of being analyzed from the outside … We have our own voice. We have our own stories. We have our own views. We have our own perspectives, and those are really important to put into print, to publish and to have out there,” said Armstrong.

“It’s one of the most important things right now. I would say the cornerstone for reconciliation.”


In 2005, Armstrong began her PhD in Indigenous Environmental Ethics and Syilx Indigenous Oral Literature.

But that wasn’t always the plan.

“I was more interested in actualizing and doing things in my community as an activist,” said Armstrong, now an associate professor in Indigenous studies at UBCO. “I really wanted to help in

my community [by] finding ways that my people who are not fortunate enough to be able to learn the language or learn our culture or ways could.”

But as her career outside of academia progressed, she realized that spaces for Indigenous scholars needed to be created.

While pursuing her PhD, Armstrong started working at the Okanagan University College (OUC) — the institution that became UBCO and Okanagan College. At OUC, Armstrong helped develop an Indigenious studies program alongside other faculty members, while also working at the En’owkin Centre to develop Indigenous language fluency programs with the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology (NVIT).

As a result of this work, UBCO and NVIT now have a joint Bachelor of Nsyilxcn Language Fluency (BNLF) program, whose first cohort graduated this May. Nsylixcn is the language spoken by the Syilx Okanagan people.

Students in the BNLF spend the first two years of the program at NVIT and the final two years at UBCO, something Armstong said allows students to “serve our people right in their communities” since students can interact with “elders and knowledge keepers ... in their land and in their contexts.”

This work in the community not only revitalizes Indigenous culture and language but also plays a part in “reconciling internally some of the trauma that has taken place because of residential schooling and because of the loss of language and the loss of culture,” said Armstrong.

“[The BNLF is] really intended to bring forward the best of our culture and the best of our knowledge and the best of our ethics and morals and values and engage them in new ways,” said Armstrong.

Armstrong said the BNLF has “changed the way [graduates] experience themselves in the world, in their community, and it’s really profound healing.”


As the Canada Research Chair in Okanagan Indigenous Knowledge and Philosophy, Armstrong is working to produce written documentation on Syilx oral literature and documents to make this Indigenous knowledge accessible, according to the Canada Research Chairs website.

During her first term as research chair, she and her team of graduate research assistants collected and categorized Syilx documents and stories to study them. This, in part, contributed to the creation of the BNLF, according to Armstrong.

“What are they saying? What are these stories saying about our social structure? What is it saying about our ethics, our morality? What is it saying about our material culture? What things did we do out on the land … What would they be useful for?” said Armstrong.

Now, in her second term, Armstrong is further developing her research to help create other interior BC Indigenous language fluency programs.

“A big part of my work in the last two years has really been engaging and training people, graduate students to be able to pull that information together and be able to advise their communities and be able to provide resources to their communities, which is now happening,” said Armstrong.

Armstrong was inducted into the Order of Canada as an officer in June.

“I am not the kind of person that wants to be in the spotlight … I’m really what you could call a servant leader,” said Armstrong.

Armstrong emphasized she doesn’t do this work for herself, rather for what it accomplishes for her community and for the next generations.

“Having that kind of recognition will help a lot of other Indigenous people, women be able to say, ‘Well, that’s really something,’ and encourage their young people to get an education, to do things that other people might think is impossible.” U

ULEGAL JULY 25, 2023 | VOLUME CV | ISSUE III THE UBYSSEY The Ubyssey periodically receives grants from the Government of Canada to fund web development and summer editorial positions.
really what you could call a servant leader.” COURTESY UBC OKANAGAN

BC pharmacists to prescribe contraception, treatment for minor ailments

As of June 1, BC pharmacists will be able to prescribe contraception and medication for 21 minor ailments.

In a media release, Health Minister Adrian Dix said the new services will make it easier for patients to access medication, while taking pressure off primary-care providers and the BC health care system.

Ubyssey c overage from June 2022 showed students reporting long wait times for health appointments through Student Health Services (SHS), something the SHS director attributed to an increased demand that emerged from the pandemic.

Ingrid Frank, a fourth-year pharmacy student, said she has seen the impacts of this change during her community practicum rotation, and it’s increased the “access of care” for the people she’s seen use this service.

“From what I’ve seen, it has helped already because it sometimes can be very difficult to contact your physician and set up an appointment,” said Frank.

According to the College of Pharmacists of BC (CPBC), due to these changes patients, particularly

those in rural or remote areas, can expect improved timely access to medication, better health outcomes and improved access to health care services.

Polling by the BC College of Family Physicians revealed almost a million British Columbians do not have a family doctor and the government said this change will benefit over 750,000 patients.

According to Dix, pharmacists have received further training to prescribe medication following this change.

CPBC said 75 per cent of eligible community pharmacists have completed the training required to be able to prescribe medications for minor ailments — like acne, conjunctivitis, oral herpes, ulcers and urinary tract infections — and

contraception including birth control pills, copper and hormonal IUDs, implants, injections and emergency contraception.

“There aren’t enough physicians, or they just don’t have the capacity,” said Frank. “[Pharmacists] are definitely equipped knowledge-wise and resource-wise. We really are the medication experts.”

Eligible pharmacies near campus include University Pharmacy, the Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacies on campus and in Wesbrook Village and the SaveOn-Foods pharmacy in Wesbrook Village.

To get a prescription from a pharmacist, patients must book through the BC government’s online booking system.

“People will be able to locate pharmacies that offer the service they need, be referred to selfassessment guides to make sure the service is suitable to them, then proceed to book an appointment with a pharmacy of their choice,” said Dix.

“This is a step in the right direction … we’re helping our community and our patients,” said Frank. “At the end of the day, the priority is the patient and we want what’s best for the patient.” U

Sulong UBC petitions for staff access to AMS Food Bank

In an open letter, Filipinx/Canadian student activist organization Sulong UBC has called on the AMS to restore UBC staff access to its food bank.

Sulong UBC and the Concerned Workers Committee UBC wrote in the latter that the current economic crisis is affecting UBC staff and students alike, and the two campus groups should not be separated in their struggle.

In March, the AMS announced it would no longer allow UBC staff to use the AMS Food Bank starting in May, citing financial hardship.

In a letter to the Board of Governors, former AMS President Eshana Bhangu stated the food bank’s projected budget was $575,495, with “no ability for the AMS to reduce these costs further.”

With demand increasing exponentially, the letter said the AMS wanted to focus its efforts on students and would end support for UBC staff.

AMS Senior Student Services Manager Kathleen Simpson echoed these sentiments in an email statement to The Ubyssey

“It was an incredibly difficult decision,” she wrote. “With annual interactions at the food bank either doubling or tripling every year, the decision was made to ensure that the AMS supports the needs of their membership [UBC Vancouver students].’’

Over the 2022/23, the number of staff visits allowed per term was decreased from 16 to 8. However, Simpson noted “nearly 40% of all

groceries were distributed to faculty and staff” during that period.

Due to the increase in food costs, allowing faculty and staff to continue using the food bank would “significantly reduce the amount of food that we are offering each Food Bank user,” said Simpson.

“As a student-first organization, we stand behind our decision to prioritize the needs of the thousands of unique individual students that rely on our services annually,” said Simpson.

After hearing this decision

Sulong UBC began advocating for a restoration of the previous food bank access policies.

Clarissa Cox, a Sulong UBC member, said food bank access is “fundamental” to staff’s experience at the university amidst inflation.

Sulong UBC’s open letter references increased grocery costs

facing staff without access to the food bank, stating workers now spend approximately $50–60 more per visit to the grocery store.

“One thing some of the staff have in common is they’ve had to leave their homelands due to poor economic conditions to have a better life in Canada,” said Cox.

Cox said Sulong UBC advocates for increased solidarity between students and UBC workers and its advocacy for staff food bank access is one way to express its solidarity.

Cox also criticized the AMS for making this decision without seeking approval from AMS Council.

“It’s crucial that the AMS Council represents the student body and the interest of the students,” said Cox. Moving forward, Cox said Sulong wants to work with the AMS to advocate for increased funding

that would allow the restoration of food bank access to UBC staff.

Felinor Adriano, a UBC custodial services staff member, spoke on behalf of concerned staff members and emphasized the importance of access to the food bank. He found out the food bank ended support for UBC staff when the AMS posted notices on the food bank’s website that it would be prioritizing students.

“[The food bank is] one solution to alleviate some of the issues going around,” said Adriano, who has been working at UBC for five years.

“We’re not asking for an everyday use, but once a week would be fair,” said Adriano. He cited the AMS’s commitment to equity, saying that “everyone should be included” in food bank’s access.

“Food is for everyone.” U


Dr. Benoit-Antoine Bacon has been appointed the 17th president and vice-chancellor of UBC.

Originally from Montreal, Bacon holds a PhD in neuropsychology from the University of Montreal and is an experienced senior administrative leader with time working at many major Canadian research universities, according to the UBC Broadcast announcing his appointment.

Bacon will be leaving his role as president and vice-chancellor of Carleton University and begin his UBC appointment on November 1.


The North building of the Brock Commons Phase 2 expansion opened this July.

Located near Peter A. Allard School of Law, it will add 318 new residence beds — 64 studio units and 64 four bedroom apartments — for upper-year students. The entire expansion is set to be completed in early 2024 when the South building opens.


The Board of Governors met in July to discuss the university’s strategic plan, which is meant to outline the collective vision, purpose, goals and strategies for the future. The report included updates on priorities related to Indigenous reconciliation; equity, diversity and inclusion; academic transformation; climate action and sustainability; and operational excellence. According to the report, all but one priority are classified as a green or yellow priority, meaning it is meeting milestones or targets, or requires monitoring to do so.


At AMS Council meeting on June 29, phase one of the AMS Food Bank expansion was passed, which includes expanding the space, adding a walk-in-fridge and removing the carpet. This phase is projected to cost $36,600. U

Patients must book an appointment online to get a prescription from a pharmacist.
Sulong UBC’s open letter references increased grocery costs facing staff without access to the food bank, stating workers now spend approximately $50–60 more per visit to the grocery store. ISABELLA FALSETTI / THE UBYSSEY

AMS anticipates $738k deficit for the 2023/24 budget

The AMS presented its budget for the 2023/24 fiscal year at AMS Council on June 22.

The budget projects $5.1 million in revenue, $5.84 million in expenses and a $738,766 deficit.

In an interview with The Ubyssey, VP Finance Abhi Mishra attributed the AMS’s deficit to rising inflation, the province’s recent increase of minimum wage and the overall increase in consumer goods prices.

Mishra said the AMS plans to address the deficit by “cutting costs where you can” and seeking “external partnerships or sponsorships” to make up revenue.

Mishra also pointed out that the student society has been running a deficit since 2020. He said the AMS is developing a long term financial strategic plan to eliminate the deficit in the future.

The $5.1 million expected in revenue comes from student fees, businesses, investments and government subsidies.

While the AMS will receive a total $28.3 million in revenue from various student fees, comprised of almost $14.5 million from the AMS/ GSS Health and Dental Plan, $2.68 million from the AMS Membership Fee and $5.55 million from the Student Union Building Renewal Fee, a majority of this revenue is

non-discretionary funds that have already been committed to student services.

The AMS also anticipates $356,402 in earnings from its food and beverage businesses — with Blue Chip and Honour Roll being its two largest.

This year the AMS is spending $697,460 towards student services, an increase of $21,486 from last year. Some services receiving the increase in funds include the AMS Food Bank, Safewalk, Tutoring Services and the Advocacy Office. Overhead costs total to $2.1

million, which is a $160,542 decrease from last year. These costs include administrative expenses and employee benefits.

Expenditures on AMS Events are $418,000, which fell from last year’s total of $761,632.

Mishra said that despite the

deficit, “the AMS would continue to support students … we do that through different capacities like the AMS Food Bank, Safewalk [and] Tutoring.”

“The mandate of the AMS is we’re here to support students in the capacity that we can.” U

2022 Security Report shows no significant increases in crime rates

2021 statistics. These incidents include five assaults between parties known to each other, three unprovoked attacks and two targeted at on-duty security officers.

With the return of students and staff to campus post-pandemic, the report notes a shift from the type of property crime, shifting from property-based theft to increasing theft of “more opportunistic assets,” like electronics.

Public safety services, including usage of campus blue phone systems and requests to check on select students, have increased across most fronts. However, the security report attributes decreased levels of safety transport requests due to increased services from AMS’s Safewalk program and other data collection process changes.

One of the highest areas of increase include “checks on student welfare.” This number increased from 46 to 93. Stephens noted that these checks are not always driven by mental health calls, but often come from parents or friends that can not get in touch with a person.


on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, a mental health first aid training (MHFA) and an advanced security training certification.

The MHFA training, certified through the Mental Health Commission of Canada, will ensure staff are adequately equipped with the resources necessary to respond to the increasing number of safety calls connected to mental health challenges.

“We are running into the ability to understand mental health challenges and understand where our role and support services can be,” said Stephens.

He also mentioned in-person or online naloxone training is provided to all security officers.

“We recognize that the environments that security is providing services in has changed, and is continuing to change,” he said.

With the SkyTrain coming to campus, more residences being built, construction, and various societal changes, this project looks to adapt to those changes and develop the best practices.

UBC has released the 2022 Vancouver campus security report. This year, Campus Security received a total of 10,017 calls for service, a slight increase from the previous report’s 8,889.

Director of Campus Security

Sam Stephens said the university’s crime statistics are “quite aligned”

with regional numbers.

Stephens took over the role in June 2022, after the discovery of former director Harry Hackl’s inflammatory tweets.

Stephens attributed the increased amount of calls for service toward more activity on campus as students and staff continue returning to prepandemic in-person levels.

“Our statistics are really proportionate and quite often slower than we expected to see coming out of the COVID wave,” he said.

Overall, levels of personal crime are consistent with previous years and levels of robbery are decreasing.

However, the number of reported assaults doubled from

Notably, Campus Security launched new training opportunities this year for its staff and launched its engagement phase of the Model Validation Project, an initiative focused on researching and designing an improved security model to serve the changing needs of campus.

The Campus Security team has undergone a six-module program

Stephens said Campus Security has been “doing a lot of listening” in this stage of the project, which included workshops, surveys and third-party engagement. This information will be used to assess services and values in their practices.

“We’re really trying to focus on the longterm,” said Stephens in reference to the Model Validation Project’s work.

“The community is changing, expectations are changing, and we want to make sure we’re staying aligned to that.” U

VP Finance Abhi Mishra said the AMS is developing a long term financial strategic plan to completely eliminate the deficit in the future.
/ THE UBYSSEY One of the highest areas of increase include “checks on student welfare.”

Anna Pontin stars in The Prom at Malkin Bowl

Hailing from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, UBC English honours student Anna Pontin dabbled in musical theatre in high school. But she never anticipated that she would continue acting after moving to a bigger city.

After getting involved with UBC’s Musical Theatre Troupe, Pontin felt that the club’s “super inclusive” atmosphere gave her the confidence she needed to audition for the lead role of Emma in Theatre Under the Stars’ production of The Prom, a hit Broadway musical that was adapted into a 2020 Netflix film.

Theatre Under the Stars is a non-profit society that brings famous musicals to Stanley Park’s historic Malkin Bowl each summer.

This year, they are staging Roald Dahl’s Matilda, as well as The Prom, which follows four down-on-their-luck Broadway stars seeking a humanitarian cause to revamp their careers. They find such a cause in high school senior Emma, whose prom gets unceremoniously cancelled when she chooses to attend the event with her girlfriend.

Emma reminds Pontin of a younger version of herself, as she went through similar experiences at her own high school. She


describes Emma as someone who “really knows who she is, and [is] super brave.” Having grown up playing witches and divas that bordered on caricatures, Pontin welcomed the chance to play a character that felt like a real person.

“Every time we run the show… I feel like I find new ways to connect to the material,” said Pontin.

She added that getting in touch

the musical, along with co-star Katrina Murphy.

“I definitely feel like the pressure to do well, as you always do when you’re putting something on stage, but also it’s exciting to have to be able to fill a role that has been performed so well before,” Pontin said.

Working with a cast of more experienced artists, Pontin has

found countless people to cheer on her growth as an actor — she describes her castmates as “models for performance and professionalism.”

On her future in the Vancouver theatre scene, Pontin said she hopes to continue auditioning for roles that “[speak] to something about me … which I feel like Emma totally does.” U

with the feelings that Emma is going through has been “super challenging, but rewarding as well.”

Knowing that the Broadway musical was already hugely successful, Pontin wanted to bring a fresh perspective to this particular production of The Prom. Following a brief watching and listening session early in the creative process, Pontin made a conscious decision to no longer consume any part of

Exhibit highlights Iranian women’s resistance

It has been nearly one year since the “Women, Life, Freedom” movement exploded onto the streets of Iran.

The movement has not only brought attention to the injustices and violence women and minority groups are facing in Iran, but it has also prompted discussions worldwide about gender inequality.

North Van Arts’ latest exhibition, Women, Life, Freedom, seeks to highlight the art of local Iranian women. It is a collection of art pieces of a variety of mediums, all with their own story to tell.

Three recent graduates of UBC’s Visual Arts program shared with The Ubyssey what it means to be a part of the exhibition.

Kiana Shahnia, who moved to Vancouver from Iran at age 12, recalled that being a woman in Iran meant that there was “a heightened sense of being visible,” and a feeling of limitation that came with her body.

Roselynn Sadaghiani, who was born and raised in Vancouver, echoed a similar sentiment from her visits to Iran, noting she became much more conscious of herself and her surroundings.

Ece Asitanelioğlu, the only non-Iranian person in the exhibition, moved to Vancouver from Istanbul seven years ago. Nevertheless, she is all too familiar with the sentiments evoked above, as Turkish women and other marginalizaed groups are facing similar injustices.

All three artists note these are

their most personal and political pieces to date, having previously avoided such direct political commentary in their work. Participating in this exhibition not only allowed them to explore a new realm of artistic expression, but also provided them an opportunity to join a community of artists with shared experiences. Shahnia’s piece “Schadenfreude” depicts a mythological battle scene, reminiscent of something out of the Shahnameh (which translates to “Book of Kings”), Iran’s most valued book of mythological history. She took it as inspiration because she believes that its existence is a “testament

to the resilience and survival of Persian culture,” and that the moral messages hidden within it represent a significant aspect of Persian identity.

“Schadenfreude” is presented as an interactive puppet show, framed in a white box. Handles on the sides allow viewers to make the piece come to life. Shahnia’s intention for the work was that those interacting with it would become a part of “the spectacle of violence that is constructed by the distant observer,” making the audience aware of their active position in the battle.

Sadaghiani’s piece “Crude Landscape” combines walnut oil and used car oil to portray nude

bodies that from afar can double as a depiction of a natural landscape, playing with the meaning of the word “crude.” Her piece is a subversive response to depictions of female bodies in art, exploring how both landscapes and bodies can be extracted and exploited.

Sadaghiani’s decision to use walnut oil was inspired by her mother’s stories of peeling walnuts in Iran, while the car oil reflected her fascination with humans’ place in a network of mass-produced objects.

As the exhibition’s largest piece, she hopes visitors will become fully immersed in “Crude Landscape,” not only due its size, but from multisensory perspectives as the

air around the piece is tinged with the scent of oil.

Asitanelioğlu’s piece “Asla yalnız yürümeyeceksin,” Turkish for “you will never walk alone,” is a clay sculpture of a nude woman looking behind herself while walking. Asitanelioglu specialized in painting at UBC, so her sculpting skills are mostly self-taught, as UBC does not have a studio space for sculptors.

The gesture of the woman in her sculpture — that of looking behind while walking — is something that she and other young women do every day when walking alone at night, whether that be in Vancouver, Iran or Turkey.

The title comes from a Turkish chant used at protests. Asitanelioğlu recounts that in Turkey, these protests are not simply about women supporting women, but about all minorities coming together and supporting each other, especially the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.

Exhibiting art like this might make it hard for Shahnia to return to Iran in the near future. Still, she believes this demonstrates how art has the power to disrupt systems of oppression. Sadaghiani echoed a similar notion, that “art, or any form of expression, has always been a threat to this regime.”

Asitanelioğlu believes that as art can be resistance, resistance can be art. Earlier this year, Iranian women responded to increased surveillance by covering security cameras with sanitary pads in an artful act of subversion.

Women, Life, Freedom is being held at the Cityscape Community ArtSpace from July 7–August 26. U

The Prom runs until August 26 at the Malkin Bowl. COURTESY EMILY COOPER PHOTOGRAPHY
Women, Life, Freedom is at the Cityscape Community ArtSpace from July 7–August 26. NINA MALEKYAZDI / THE UBYSSEY COURTESY EMILY COOPER PHOTOGRAPHY Brianna Clark (left) and Anna Pontin.


Ottawa is freezing, at least that’s what I say when people ask about it.

“Well, the weather is certainly different.”

Surface skimmed, interaction passed. Coworker, acquaintance, friend.

They nod, “I bet.”

If I am truly honest with myself, Ottawa isn’t that cold — it grows warmer in my memory the longer I am away.

Home is complicated, and my heart is buried like time capsules all around the nation’s capital.

I think I say Ottawa is freezing because the cold is easier to remember — it lasts longer on your skin and it’s easier to digest than sweltering summers where I bit off more than I could chew.

The plane ride is five hours one way and six the other. Instead of hours, I count my journey home by the number of times I imagine pushing the emergency exit door open at the exact midpoint between Ottawa and Vancouver and throwing myself out so I never have to make up my mind about where home is ever again.

Like I said, home is complicated.

When I went to Catholic school,

I’d sit in the chapel and pray my quiet contempt for the world around me — for the suburb that I lived in, for the broken basketball net outside, for the feeling of my teeth cutting the inside of my cheek after a fist hit my face for the first time.

In my infinite Thirteen-YearOld Wisdom, I knew I wanted to leave Ottawa, to become the gravitational centre of my own world. I never wanted anyone to look at me again — I wanted to go somewhere big enough to disappear into swaths of people who looked and spoke just like me.

Though I spent my free time in the chapel, I didn’t believe in God then. I believed in the University of Toronto’s promotional material on my Instagram and its ability to take me far, far away.

Or at least a six-hour drive away.

I’ve always been an anywherebut-here kid. New York, Paris, San Francisco. Anywhere important people lived in movies and TV. Anywhere people said art and culture were.

I’d barely looked around my own backyard before I moved to the West Coast, maybe I was scared of what I might find. Maybe I was

scared I would love the familiar cracks in the concrete or the permanently under-construction parliament buildings.

In Ottawa, I’ll always be sixteen spinning figure eights around the Catholic school parking lot, wine drunk or pretending to be. There, I’ll always be something I know how to be, something easy, slipping in and out of myself like a wellworn sweater.

And because of that, Ottawa’s bitter cold mocked me, seeping into my shoes after sinking my foot into the bottom of a slushy puddle and freezing my wet hair in spikes around my face.

I’m unsure if I ran from the closed fist and mind of Catholic education or myself.

It was hard to love a place that freezes your fingers until they can’t move, that beats your body blue. And when I say Ottawa is freezing I think of those days where the cold doubled down on my misery.

Nonetheless, my heart — or at least one of its beating atriums — is buried in the backyard of the house I lived in with the red garage door.

But spring came early the year I had my first kiss with a girl I briefly loved and when my dad would

drive me to Baskin Robbins and the ice cream would melt down my wrists in the summer heat.

Still, I don’t usually say I love Ottawa. But I did and I do — I loved the people I met, the long sunny suburban stretch my friends and I would walk down in high school and the cupcakes at the bakery my mom liked to take me to when I was sad.

I think I still love everyone I have ever loved.

I think the city’s big cranes can actually look pretty when the sun sets downtown.

I can separate the people from the city, say I love them but hate the place they are from — but that would be a lie. To love them is to love the crucible they were forged in, to love them is to love the same snowbanks I resentfully trudged through for most of the year.

I can’t love them despite the city, knowing the kind of person it takes to come out the other end, corroded and smoothed like a rock on the shore. Ice soaked shoulders, frozen feet. That the warmth inside them needs to burn hotter and louder than the tundra wind numbing their


I love them because of it, because of all the things I tried to hate, all the things I left behind.

Home is complicated. I’m from the over-salted sidewalks outside of the public library, from the triple knotted laces of the second girl I ever loved and from my high school auditorium watching the lights go down and the world begin and end a million times.

I wish I could say moving across the country made me definitively know where home is. I wish there was a big red pin on a map where I could stake my heart, where I could trace it back to.

So instead, I’m now filling in the negative space around home, feeling out what it isn’t before I know what it is. I am starting to think I’ll spend most of my young adult life doing that, cutting and running and sewing and pasting, throwing parts of myself at the wall to see what sticks.

Ottawa, Ontario is three hours ahead of Vancouver, and my mom sleeps while I watch the sunset. And I know that when I last drove past my old high school with my best friend, I asked her to slow down. U



I have this dream where I’m seventeen again.

I’m standing at my mother’s faux-marble counter at an ungodly hour before school begins, clutching a plastic bag of milk whose corner I ripped open with my teeth.

And I spill milk on the countertop of my kitchen, missing my cereal bowl by a couple of centimetres.

I grab the nearby roll of paper towel and fold the milk into the sheet. I cup my hand to scoop the liquid onto the tissue, so it can’t escape and further soak the table. I keep folding the milk but edges escape my palm, and I’m stuck in the dream trying to contain a puddle that refuses to behave the way I want it to.

I watch myself in my pathetic dream eye, judging my failure at this simple task. The milk sits around on the counter, mocking my inability to fold it in one neat swipe. I am in desperate tears, obsessed with containing this spillage.

The sliding glass panes to the balcony stand apart, letting in Pune’s most noticeable feature heavy air. This air weighs me down, like a hand grabbing you too tightly. It’s uncomfortable, but you’ll survive.

I am seventeen and all I want to

do is leave this town and its heavy hand. I try to pour the milk, but I choke on the air, so I spill, melting into a counter puddle.

I spilt the milk and I am the spilt milk. I’m failing at folding into a paper towel. And I fold and I fold, but I fail to be contained. I need to escape the city’s heavy air and heavy hand and fall into the embrace of the paper towel. I need to tuck and fold, swipe and scoop, contain and transport myself and the milk, as far away as humanly possible because I’m afraid if I stay too long the air will finally choke me.

Every so often since I moved, I’m back on the counter spilling away, wiping eternally. As if I can contain the identity I had in the town I didn’t like. I left too hastily and now the milk is never completely folded in. Something is still on the counter, only this time I can’t go and wipe it back.

I can’t seem to stop trying.

On any given day, I was within a five-mile radius of my house in Pune. I live in what is called a township, a mock-up mini-town within the town, sort of like a largescale shrine to consumerism and provincialism. Within a convenient one-kilometre radius we have two shopping malls, five convenience

stores, three hairdressers, a fire station, four smoke shops and two vegetable vendors.

You could spend your whole life in Pune, within Pune, and never notice you haven’t left. It’s like Sinclair Lewis’ Main Street, only for brown people who love shopping malls.

It is a city planner’s wet dream, the perfectly manicured picture of civilization.

In Pune, I never had to answer absurdly irrelevant questions like “Where are you from?” People knew from the dialect of my language and the verbs I misplaced when I spoke Hindi. My town lurked behind the subtle choices of curse words I used, the way I drove and the specific type of food I ate.

Located behind a mountain range separating it from the sea, Pune City, in Maharashtra is called the Detroit of the East, or something else equally pretentious and equally inaccurate.

The food is great and soft green rolling hills enter the landscape if you drive far enough. The apartment building I live in, an exact clone of hundreds like it from all over the city, has enough people to invite judgemental incredulity from those who grew up in the West.

You can smell the desperation

in the artfully designed building fronts that some architect of nonote designed, thinking it would be his big ticket item. All this abundance yet there is nothing to do here. This bag of milk is tasteless and washed out, yet it’s all I’ve ever known.

I am the provincial product of these nested towns, these implicit urban functions that no one seems to notice despite their garish inyour-face attempts.

The tall overcrowded buildings have terraces where I spent almost all my evenings, looking over the skyline with cigarette smoke curling around my hair, thickening the air. There are small parks where children don’t play after 5 p.m., where my best friend and I used to lay down on the plastic grass that smelt like shoe soles and toddlers.

The Pune roads are overrun with the most unregulated pedestrian and auto-rickshaw traffic known to man, that I drove through every evening just to have something to do. It’s warm in October of all months, but the street markets are lined with nearly a mile of the most beautiful silver jhumkas that I hoarded before I left.

There are second-hand book

stalls with books for under ten cents. If you drive by the dam at night and park your car over the bridge, you can sit on the hood and stare at the semi-rank river smell. It grows on you and coats you in its viscosity. If you spend too much time in that oppressive comfort of provinciality, you will turn into me. Hating, obsessive, waxing overly nostalgic for something she voluntarily left.

When someone asks me what people do for fun in Pune I say, “leave”— the joke is equal parts venom and regret.

And when I finally succeeded in escaping my hometown, I became crudely aware of my origin. “I am from Pune,’’ is a line I will be repeating until one day I give up, seeing people’s confusion and just say Mumbai. It’s easier — geographic simplifications never hurt anyone.

But every time I lie, the air gets heavier and the hand tightens. It feels like a betrayal to wipe that away, tucking and folding it into a paper towel, just as I had done to myself and to the milk, in my dream.

I am tired of being from a city that has no identity of its own but contains the entirety of mine. U


Where are my quizzes?

For 105 years, The Ubyssey been publishing articles about food security protests and the student housing crisis, but where are the jokes?

Cut to: the blog. The funniest, best, sexiest, greatest section of all Ubyssey sections.

It was created by [INSERT NAME HERE] in 2014 to rake in the views with TOP 10 LISTS and given to then-Opinion Editor Austen Erhardt. Despite being an organization(?) whose express pur pose is covering what’s happening at UBC, we don’t actually have any record of who had the idea for blog.

The best I’ve got is this text from Ubyssey historian and last year’s Opinion + Blog Editor Iman Janmohamed.

“from what i think/heard/ speculation, it was the coordinating editor’s idea to have a buzzfeedy section so austen did it.”

BREAKING: Erhardt has in formed The Ubyssey that while he was the first opinion + blog editor, the blog was previously a side proj ect run by then-Managing Editor, Web CJ Pentland. But Pentland didn’t create it! I need to catch a

Former Opinion + Blog Editor Tristan Wheeler takes credit for women’s accomplishments.
Got game (ideas)? Send them over to visuals@ubyssey.ca.


Introducing UBC Barbie

Move over Malibu Barbie, The Ubyssey is proud to introduce the newest addition to the Mattel family — UBC Barbie!

Just in time for UBC’s latest breakfast-coded president, this plastic embodiment of UBC student life is available for the low tuition price of $7,000 (if you’re a domestic student).

You might be asking, “what does UBC Barbie look like?” Well, her feet have never seen a pair of strappy pink stilettos — too impractical for the never-ending walking at UBC. How else would she get from Buchanan to Wesbrook Village in 10 minutes? Instead, she sports Costco sneakers that double as miniature rain boots with the optional plastic bag accessory (only available in salmon*) to combat the city’s insta-worthy rainfall. She always keeps her pink umbrella in her hand-me-down pink Jansport backpack and wears her miniature Canada Goose jacket (pink) to keep her warm in the wet chill of the Pacific Northwest. Perfectly coiffed hair? Nah, she sports a perpetually messy bun. #ExistentialCrisis! ��

UBC Barbie’s dream house is a real-life dream! But when she wakes up, she’s in a literal (because she’s a doll... get it?) shoe box of an

apartment with six roommates all the way in Surrey. Barbie dreams about one day owning a giant mansion with a walk-in closet, but the only “walk-in” she does is a sideways shuffle into her “den” — which still costs $1,200 a month.

UBC Barbie’s beloved pink corvette has been traded in for a Compass Card. She’s even started a petition to get TransLink to make the blue cards pink! While Malibu Barbie drives down the Pacific Coast Highway, UBC Barbie runs for the R4 just to watch it drive by. She makes the most of her commute, manifesting how she can live on campus next year.

After that long commute, UBC Barbie is hungry! Malibu Barbie might love her acai bowls and kale smoothies, but UBC Barbie scoffs at the idea — she needs more substance to fuel her academic escapades. She’d much prefer a Triple O’s cheeseburger and milkshake to drown her pain in (as long as she gets her Triple “O” Tuesday discount


So what’s UBC Barbie studying? A better question would be, what isn’t she studying.

One term, she’s a philosophy major, pondering the existential question, if a Barbie falls in a deserted Dreamhouse™ and no one’s around, does she still have to pay her student loans? Next term, she’s delving into computer science,

trying to code an AI Ken who can finally pick up his tiny clothes off the floor and owns a car.

Thinking she hasn’t challenged herself enough, UBC Barbie decides to major in Chemistry, hoping to concoct her own line of cosmetics. Why pay a fortune for lipstick and blush when you can make it in the lab? Fast forward to next year,


There is no Barbie movie

and she’s studying Forestry. UBC Barbie’s in her tree-hugging era, promising to save the world one miniature plastic tree at a time. UBC Barbie can’t choose, and why should she? Barbie can do anything. And by “anything,” UBC Barbie means studying everything, even if it takes her longer than the line at Tim Hortons.

While you won’t be able to afford a UBC Barbie because the cost of living crisis has made budgeting impossible, remember no matter where you are or what you’re doing, you’ll always be a barbie girl in a UBC world. U

*Pink Barbie Plastic Bag™ coming soon.

When I left the theatre and de-Barbie-briefed with my fellow stans, none of our recollections matched.

I know you think you’ve seen the Barbie movie, but have you really?

I was like you: Front row on opening night, arms full of collectible Barbie -themed popcorn bags and cups, the Barbies I brought from home piling over the side of my tote bag and slicing the screen.

The movie seemed perfectly Barbie — Margot Robbie pretending not to be Australian, Ryan Gosling pretending to have a spray tan — but when I left the theatre and de- Barb riefed with my fellow stans, none of our recollections


We all remembered Ryan Gosling Ken not knowing about sex (big laugh) and Margot Robbie’s anti-Birkenstock prejudice (#JusticeForBirks), but other than that we seemed to have watched completely different Barbie movies.

Maybe the experience was so incredible our brains couldn’t process it, but we knew that wasn’t the case — something else was up.

We cancelled our Oppenheimer plans and went back in for another round of Barbie . This time, the movie was exactly the same but now Margot Robbie Barbie had

red hair and invented the atomic bomb, and a professional Barbie fan like me knows that Barbie has blonde hair!

That’s when it hit me like a Barbie Classic Collection DVD box set thrown by the Barbie marketing team out of a pink double-decker bus: There is no Barbie movie.

My friends were content to accept the facade and bask in the Barbie bliss, but I had to find the truth. I went back in, watching the movie again and again until I could see past the illusion. I didn’t understand the videos and images I was seeing at first, but

they seemed familiar.

There were GQ and Buzzfeed Celeb interviews, Twitter threads about rollerbladers and concert hall tie-ins. It was the same content I had voraciously consumed in the lead-up to the Barbie movie: the marketing.

Why was no one talking about this? How had no one seen the truth on the screen? Who was behind it all?

They found me during my 35th watch. I tried to escape, climbing over rows and rows of unknowing Barbie fanatics, but there they were, waiting for me in their pink jumpsuits.

I was dragged to the secret room at the back of the theatre (you know the one). And in the pink glow of branded lighting, the Barbie Dreamhouse ™ pieces finally fit together in my mind. It was them, the Barbie marketing team.

They told me it had taken decades of planning to convince the world the Barbie movie was real — years to convince the world that Greta Gerwig wasn’t just a twinkle in a lesbian’s eye — and I wasn’t about to ruin it for them. They began mockingly reenacting my capture with... it couldn’t be.


The figure that represented me bounced over rows of other, virtually identical looking, figures in the hands of one of the marketers, and I finally saw the truth (for I wanna say the third time that day): It was the Playmobil movie the whole time.

With eyes still fixed on their shakedown-core playtime, they revealed their evil plan. The Barbie movie was an elaborate and nonsensical ploy to pay for a Playmobil sequel.

Even though I’m a Barbie fan to the very core of my being and have been for the past four months, it took all my willpower to not get pulled into the fun. But I knew this was my only chance to escape. I crept away, whispering silly little things like “that’s such a high click-through rate” and “so guerilla” until I made it past the door.

Now you know the Barbie movie isn’t real. What you choose to do with that knowledge is up to you. I’ll be buying a themed lunchbox. U

JULY 25, 2023 TUESDAY | HUMOUR | 9
You can’t even tell she’s having an existential crisis! PHOTO BY ISABELLA FALSETTI / THE UBYSSEY DESIGN BY ISA S. YOU / THE UBYSSEY


Ask Iman: Super senior sorrow

Iman Janmohamed

Features Editor

Hi Iman, I realized I have to take five years to finish my degree and I am so embarrassed. Is it really ok to take longer than four to graduate?

It’s totally normal to take more than four years to complete your degree! Things come up — work, life, maybe you changed your major once or twice, maybe you had to prioritize your health — and even if nothing came up, that’s ok, too!

There’s no shame in taking longer to graduate, no matter the reason. Co-op? Cool. Wanted to chill for a bit? Sick. Needed to take time off to deal with some personal things? I’m glad you did!

I can guarantee you that you


won’t care that you graduated “late” five months, let alone five years after graduation. I know, I know that “LiFe iSn’T a rAcE, iT’s aBoUt tHe jOuRnEy” stuff is annoying when it seems like everyone is getting the hell out of UBC and suddenly working in client acquisition at Deloitte, but it’s the truth. You’re your own worst critic and it does no one any good comparing yourself to others — everyone’s situations are different and everyone does things at their own pace.

Give yourself some grace and understand that it’s not that deep even though it might seem like it is. How long you take to graduate doesn’t define you, and way fewer people graduate in four years than you think. But again, who cares about that anyway?

When your first-year RA tells

you and your roommate that “five is the new four,” they aren’t lying — less people graduate in four years than you think (and the graduation data proves it), so don’t stress out. No one really questions your graduation timeline, and if someone does and clowns you for taking an extra year (or two, or three) they’re being weird.

A very famous tortoise (Master Oogway from Kung Fu Panda) once said “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it’s called the present.” Enjoy the time you have left at UBC, it’ll be over before you know it.

You’re doing great. Keep it up! U Got questions? I’ve got answers! Send your questions to advice@ ubyssey.ca, or submit anonymously at ubyssey.ca/pages/advice.

1. Gramps’ spouse

5. Period in history

10. Big ___ (David Ortiz’s nickname)

14. Seep out

15. First Indian prime minister

16. “___See Clearly Now”

17. Eating the “Silly Rabbit” cereal again?

20. “A Summer Place” star

21. Team’s pronoun

22. Price-fixing syndicates

23. Circle potion

24. “The Simpsons” daughter

26. “Catch you later!”

27. Used to be

1. Semisoft Dutch cheese

2. Rodeo participant

3. Mexican ancestor

4. Prefix meaning “modern”

5. Afflictions of the worldweary

6. Looks curiously

7. Sounds of understanding

8. Alligator’s cuz

9. Annual college football game held in Hawaii

10. Like some dates

11. Farmland measure

12. Jack and Jill’s container

13. “Listen Like Thieves” band

18. ‘C’est magnifique!’

28. Solemn commitment

30. Campus lodging

34. Appropriate inappropriately

37. Ship’s staff

38. Early Olds auto

39. System of measuring cereal by weight?

43. Flooring wood

44. Cameo shape

45. Lazes around

46. Genie’s grant

48. “Clean sheet” score in soccer

49. Continent north of Afr.

50. Hesitation sounds

52. Good garden soil

54. Wager

19. Like much wine

25. “You missed the entire basket!” chant

27. Candlemaking supply

29. Start a hand

31. “Free Willy” whale

32. Navigation hazard 33. Forest growth 34. Trash-hauling boat 35. Bangkok native 36. Cartoon shrieks 37. CCIII doubled 40. Hogwash 41. Former collegians 42. Negation word 47. Words before a football hike 49. Diner or cafe

57. “Look at me, I’m as helpless as a kitten ___...” (“Misty” line)

61. Pkg. for a dozen eggs

62. Woodsman’s tool

63. Obtaining the cereal folks believe they are entitled to?

66. Raise, as crops

67. Like a designated driver, one hopes

68. Dracula portrayer Lugosi

69. Battle of beefy combatants

70. Spreadsheet item

71. 15th of March

51. Hosp. scan

53. Brownish yellow

54. Made muffins

55. Banishment

56. Home of the Alamo

57. Australian sheepskin boots

58. Lima’s locale

59. Small building block

60. Dr. ___ Spengler, “Ghostbusters” role (Anagram of GENO)

64. Hashtag invoked when sharing nostalgic photos

65. Slugger’s stat

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Color in the blank boxes, skip the 0's Five years is the new four, literally. MAHIN E ALAM / THE UBYSSEY (UN)SOLICITED ADVICE //

UBC students, alum turn passions into professions on Vancouver Bandits’ dance team

During half-time at Vancouver Bandits games, Hazelle Flores, Kristine Panganiban and Calvin Cruz perform their fast-paced hiphop routine in front of basketball fans at the Langley Events Centre as part of the new dance crew.

Although now dance professionals, Flores, Panganiban and Cruz’s journeys to joining the Bandits’ dance team are the result of immense determination and self discipline.

Flores is a fifth-year Sauder student studying business technology management and operations and logistics. She credits her success with the Bandits to mastering time management, something she learned at her co-op.

“Being able to … hold yourself responsible, especially in the corporate world is something that I think once you experience it, you start to get used to it,” she said.

But even with great organizational skills, loving what she does is what’s most important to her.

“For Bandits, it doesn’t even feel like I’m working — it’s more of a passion. I’ve been dancing since I was eight, so I’ve always had dance in my life in some aspect,” Flores said.


For Panganiban, a third-year psychology student and dance instructor at Trek of Arts, a Vancouver-based studio, dancing with the Bandits is a step toward her future.

“My passion is for dance and will always be for dance,” she said.

However, the passion doesn’t always distract from the wide open floor with everyone watching.

“With the Bandits’ dance team,

there is a lot of pressure when it comes to dancing in front of people and practicing,” Panganiban said. “It does become stressful when you’re around all those people but you have to just relax and be in the moment when you’re there.”

when a lot of things are piled up,” she added.

Cruz, a 2021 graduate of psychology and mathematics, balances his corporate career with the Bandits.

he said. “[The Bandits] is like my five to nine after my nine to five, even though it’s longer than five to nine, [more] like five to midnight.”

As a mentor to his younger Bandits teammates, Cruz often gives advice to undergraduates like Flores and Panganiban.

“Every time I meet someone in the dance scene that are also from UBC, it’s always just nice,” he said. “Giving them ‘tips and tricks’ [about] how I did it … passing [that on] to fellow students to get that connection. I’m like ‘this is what I did during my undergrad,’ [and] ‘this may or may not work for you.’”

Going forward, all three dancers want to keep pursuing dance professionally while still working towards their other careers.

“Making a career out of dance is difficult — there’s so many factors that play into it. But I love dance, and I knew I couldn’t stop dancing,” Flores said. “Whether I could make a career out of it or not, I would still want to do it.”

Their journeys to professional dancing were varied and challenging, but these three dancers now reap the rewards. Flores said the key is a willingness to pursue your dreams.

On Shoshanah Seumanutafa’s fifth birthday, her brother Caleb was born. But she was more excited about the nurses giving her a big chocolate bar than a new baby brother.

“I didn’t even care that he was born. I was like, ‘oh, I got a chocolate bar, that’s great,’” she said with a laugh.

Now, things are different — Shoshanah refers to Caleb as her “birthday gift,” and the two play on the UBC women’s and men’s rugby teams respectively.

The siblings from White Rock, BC, grew up in a rugby family, the kind that played pick-up games, so it wasn’t new to them. But neither Shoshanah nor Caleb pursued rugby right away.

Shoshanah was a soccer player until grade 12 and only started playing rugby in grade 10. After playing both sports for a while, she stopped playing soccer and chose rugby for its physicality and playmaking.

“What I find fun about rugby is using your footwork to step other people up. Not many other sports have that aspect of it,” she said.

After choosing UBC with her dad’s guidance, Shoshanah’s university rugby career has been nothing short of incredible.

She helped her team to win three consecutive rugby Canada

Even with their own lives and games, the two still find time to support each other.

West (CW) Championships as well as the team’s first CW Championship for rugby sevens. She has also been named CW Player of the Year twice.

Caleb, on the other hand, started playing rugby in grade six after being sick of baseball’s slow pace. Unlike his sister, there was no specific moment where he decided to stick with rugby. He just loved its quick action and the way it made him feel.

“I was like, ‘I need to move

“I think UBC prepared me for all that stress and pressure and being able to relieve some anxiety [about performing] because I understand … how stressful it gets more,’” he said.

Following his avid involvement in the academic and dance communities at UBC, Cruz continues to manage a double-life.

“I work in HR and then dance is also something that I do full time,”

The Seumanutafa siblings rule rugby at UBC

“Don’t stop your passion. You can make it work. And just believe in yourself. There [were] so many times where I didn’t think I would be able to do it,” she said. U

is familiar with. Shoshanah and Caleb’s dad, Pose Seumanutafa, is the skills coach for Trinity Western University’s women’s rugby team. But before that, he was their first coach too.

“[My dad] is like the backbone of our little rugby family, where he’s just kind of taught us everything we know,” said Caleb.

Shoshanah echoed the sentiment.

“He is definitely my biggest supporter and also my biggest critic, but I think that’s a good thing,” she said.

The pair agreed that being in a family of rugby athletes makes it easier to improve and stay motivated.

“If I have questions or if I’m frustrated, even when I’m at home, I can just go out with my family and fix things. I don’t have to rely on coaches [at UBC] because I know their schedules are really busy,” Caleb said.

Caleb attributed his choice to come to UBC to its academic reputation and resources for athletes.

Even though Shoshanah has made a name for herself, Caleb, who is going into his second year, doesn’t let his sister’s successful career get to him. He said it acts more as motivation than pressure.

“The goal is to either meet the amount of accomplishments [she has], or surpass it. So it’s

less pressure and more like, ‘Oh, I gotta step up my game’ kind of thing,” he said.

Although Shoshanah has now graduated, she plans to play internationally and keep up with her brother’s athletics.

“I’ve tried to give him my advice. Whether he listens to it, I don’t know,” she said. “But definitely trying to be a mentor figure for him.”

Being rugby mentors is something the Seumanutafa family

Even with their own lives and games, the two find the time to support each other at the other’s games, cheering from the sidelines.

Rugby has brought the Seumanutafa siblings closer together – both on and off the pitch.

“We have a good relationship,” Caleb said regarding his sister. “We’re friends. We can hang out. Talking about rugby is always there, but it’s not all we talk about.” U

“Whether I could make a career out of it or not, I would still want to do it.”

UBC research highlights struggles, joys of 2SLGBTQIA+ aging

Vancouver Pride brings hundreds into the streets each summer to celebrate decades of 2SLGBTQIA+ protest for the right to be ourselves in public.

But, older generations of Queer people who created that history often face access barriers which are under-resourced and understudied. UBC kinesiology researcher Dr. Laura Hurd wants to change that.

Hurd, who is also an associate dean in the Faculty of Education, bridges sociology and kinesiology to study people’s physical and social experiences of aging. For the past five years, one of her focuses has been on Queer aging, exploring how 2SLGBTQIA+ seniors describe their experiences of gender, sexuality and health over the course of their lives.

“When I went to the literature, what I found was that Queer research has tended to not look at the experiences of older people. And gerontology, or aging research, hasn’t typically considered LGBTQ+ folks,” said Hurd.

“There seemed to be gaps in both those fields, and I wanted to try and bring those things together.”

Hurd’s research shows that aging often compounds struggles for visibility and autonomy. It also illustrates how, as acceptance for 2SLGBTQIA+ identities has increased in the past fifty years, many Queer seniors benefit from new vocabulary and community.

‘MORE AND MORE UNSEEN’ Hurd’s research study, titled “LGBTQ Older Adults: Media Portrayals and Everyday Experiences,” has been running since

2017. It’s based on interviews with 2SLGBTQIA+ Canadians between the ages of 65 and 83.

Hurd and her research team interviewed each of the 68 participants at least twice, producing hours and hours of stories about Queer peoples’ experiences of growing up and growing old. The interviews started with broad open-ended questions to get a sense of how people narrate their own stories, and to build safety and trust in the interview room.

“I do want to say that doing those interviews was a huge privilege,” said Hurd. “Sitting and being able to spend four to six hours with each person hearing their stories ... You know, that is probably the most profoundly moving study that I’ve ever done.”

Hurd said that many of the participants shared that they became more secure in their Queer identities as they aged — a product of a general upward trend in public awareness and acceptance of 2SLBGTQIA+ rights. However, aging can bring new forms of discrimination, and intersect with familiar ones.

“A lot of people talked about how, particularly as they got older, they felt more and more unseen,” said Hurd. “So in that sense, aging is compounding homophobia, transphobia and so on.”

Elderly people tend to receive less attention and support due to the prevalent ageism in Western culture. In 2012, six out of ten Canadian seniors said that they had been treated unfairly because of their age.

For Queer seniors, this statistic may increase — a 2015 study found that gay men felt aging was more difficult for them than their heterosexual peers because they faced both a loss of desirability in Queer

spaces, and homophobic discrimination in heteronormative spaces.

This dovetails with a lack of media representation of older Queer people — another topic of Hurd’s research.

Health risks that come with aging cause many seniors to interact more frequently with medical institutions. The patient-caregiver power dynamic can leave marginalized patients vulnerable to discrimination, causing some 2SLGBTQ+ seniors to feel pressured to conceal their identities.

As one interviewee from the study said, “The lesbians I know who are in care facilities, whether they’re [in] partial care or longterm care, are feeling a need to hide … [and] go back in the closet.”

Marginalized communities, including Queer people, low-income populations and BIPOC, also often face greater health risks due to the stress of discrimination and systemic exclusion. This increases the 2SLGBTQIA+ senior demographic’s need for specialized care.


Older people can also feel neglected by their Queer community as traditional gathering spaces like bars no longer feel as accessible.

“Events ... aren’t always inclusive of older people and older people’s needs,” said Hurd. “If you have a mobility impairment it’s hard to go to a film festival then find yourself seated at the back of the room where you can’t see or participate in some Pride events and activities.”

Qmunity, a Vancouver-based Queer community organization, provides senior programming to fill those gaps. They hold senior sup -

port groups, community connection events and advocacy sessions.

According to Programs Specialist Courtney Dieckbrader, 150–200 people use their senior services monthly, with more around special events like Pride.

“Pride event coordinators should remember that there is a whole generation of folks who have been event planning, rallying, and bringing people together for years,” wrote Dieckbrader in an email to The Ubyssey. “When Pride Planning, seek out and ask older generations what they want to see. Include them in the process.”

“... You might be surprised at how many people show up in a really meaningful way.”

Qmunity has been holding seniors programming since 2012, but “the org has always supported seniors on some level,” according to Dieckbrader.

Civil rights strides such as marriage equality and treatment improvements for HIV/AIDS have made it easier for some older Queer advocates to envision a future in a way which was previously unimaginable.

“With [those wins] I think everyone in the community started thinking ‘okay, I’ve got to make some plans now for what the rest of my life can look like,’” wrote Dieckbrader.


Hurd’s study is not just about medical discrimination and struggle — her emphasis on hearing people’s full life story provided hours of stories about how experiences of Queerness, self-discovery and coming out evolve over time.

“I think that, as a researcher, I want to create spaces where people

can feel able to be vulnerable and tell me about the struggles, and also be able to share with me some of the joys,” said Hurd.

For some interviewees, Queer joy meant finding the words to express who they are. One study participant described recently coming across the term “pansexual” for the first time and feeling a new sense of self-recognition.

“A lot of the people that I interviewed for this study … talked about the fact that there weren’t vocabularies available to them growing up. So they had this sense that they were all alone in this world and that their identities were unique.”

Many participants are also hopeful about how awareness and tolerance of Queerness have increased within their lifetimes. As isolation can hurt health outcomes, that sense of community can play an important role in improving 2SLGBTQIA+ seniors’ health.

In August, as Pride weekend sweeps Vancouver with parade floats, raves and rainbow crosswalks, Qmunity is bringing together Vancouver’s 55+ 2SLGBTQIA+ community for their annual Aging with Pride event on August 2, featuring entertainment, free food and community.

Hurd and Dieckbrader both hope that other event organizers and the wider community follow their examples in honouring the stories and access needs of Queer seniors.

“I think we can become more aware and sensitive to the fact that aging amplifies exclusion for a lot of older people,” Hurd said. “We need to think through different needs and different ways of delivering programming.” U

For some interviewees, Queer joy meant finding the words to express who they are. ANYA ANBER AMEEN / THE UBYSSEY

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