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POWER TO THE PEOPLE: What happens when academics collaborate with citizen researchers? p6

GENERATIONS APART: Reflections of Centennial and Sesquicentennial students p8








BIG BOOST: Record gift helps UTSC build Tamil Studies program p28


A magazine for the alumni, friends and community of the University of Toronto Scarborough Spring 2017 Volume 7, Issue 1 Produced by the Department of Communications & Public Affairs 416-287-7089, Editor Chris Garbutt

I’ve always hoped that Canada 150 would generate ideas, energy and optimism for the challenges ahead, just as our celebration of Canada’s Centennial did in 1967.

That year the world directed its attention to Expo in Montreal and the Pan American Games in Winnipeg. The Toronto Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup, a source of pride for locals like me even if that wasn’t part of the official program. We made significant investments in research, infrastructure, education and the arts. It was a coming of age for the country. Canada at 150 challenges us to confront the contradictions and omissions of our history. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission compels us to rethink the meaning of Canada in dialogue with Indigenous people, to recognize the depth of their connection with this land, and acknowledge the cruel marginalization and suppression that is part of our history as a settler society. As Alexandra Shimo and Sarah Barmak write in this issue, Indigenous people are speaking out, and this is a welcome inclusion that is changing not only how we understand the past, but the present and future of Canada. We have a tremendous responsibility to reflect on that history, no matter how difficult, and create a genuinely more equitable society. This is not only equity—it’s fundamental to who we are.

Bruce Kidd, OC, PhD, LLD Vice-President, University of Toronto, and Principal, UTSC

UTSC Commons | Spring 2017

Principal Photographer Ken Jones Communications Interns Tahmina Aziz, Raquel Russell Art Direction, Design & Production Hambly & Woolley Inc. Editorial Advisory Group Pankaj Aggarwal Associate Professor, Department of Management Andrew Arifuzzaman Chief Administrative Officer Vina Goghari Associate Professor, Department of Psychology and Graduate Department of Psychological Clinical Science Joe Hermer Associate Professor, Department of Sociology Alice Maurice Associate Professor, Department of English Shelley Romoff Director, Communications & Public Affairs Georgette Zinaty Executive Director, Development & Alumni Relations To contact us, please visit, email or write us at UTSC Commons, Communications & Public Affairs, 1265 Military Trail, Toronto, Ontario M1C 1A4 UTSC Commons has a circulation of 35,000 and is published twice a year by UTSC’s Department of Communications & Public Affairs. All material is copyright © 2017 University of Toronto Scarborough and may be reprinted with written permission. Alumni receive the magazine free of charge. For information about how you can support University of Toronto Scarborough, please contact Development & Alumni Relations at 416-287-7115, or at the postal address above. Visit us online Facebook UofTScarborough Instagram & Twitter @utsc The University of Toronto Scarborough respects your privacy. We do not rent, trade or sell our mailing lists. If you do not wish to receive the magazine, please contact us at 416-978-2139 or 1-800-463-6048 or





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Two generations of U of T Scarborough students compare and contrast life on campus. by Gilbert Ndikubwayezu


In this special feature, UTSC Commons investigates the history of Indigenous Scarborough and what universities must do to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. by Alexandra Shimo and Sarah Barmak


The bottom of the ocean is a geopolitical battleground. p2

Covers: (front) Consanguinity, (back) Caduceus, by Meryl McMaster


How theatre can bring strangers together. p4 DID YOU KNOW?

A digital treasure trove for an ancient language. p5

Visit us online at

from the field

It’s a difficult balance when academics and citizen scientists get together to do research. by Patchen Barss p6

campus news

Tamil studies at UTSC gets a boost. p28 Campus appoints a new equity position. p29 Join us for our new lecture series. p30

meeting place Check your inbox! You’ll be getting a reader survey request from us shortly, and we want to know what you think. Didn’t get the email? Contact us at

Risk-taker is the CFO for Kensington Capital Partners. p32


Our unique teaching and research kitchen. p36 UTSC Commons | Spring 2017


MOSAIC Ideas & Observations

TALES OF THE DEEP There’s a whole lot at the bottom of

the sea. And we’re only beginning to understand it. “We know far less about deep oceans than outer space,” says John Hannigan, an environmental sociologist and author of the book The Geopolitics of Deep Oceans. Hannigan’s book goes deep—very deep—into the global maneuverings over who controls the lowest reaches of the ocean floor. Research into oceans is widespread, but the deep oceans are a “blind spot among researchers,” says Hannigan. “Most research is about coastlines and coral reefs.” 2

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There’s more than research to be done. There are strategic political advantages to be gained. Valuable mineral and energy resources to tap. And there are those who want to protect the depths from being overly exploited. “There’s a cold war reigniting under the surface of the ocean,” says Hannigan, a professor in the Department of Sociology. “The oceans are a political chess board.” Areas such as the South China Sea and the Arctic Ocean are just two regions contested by multiple countries. The vast array of natural resources

up for grabs includes oil, natural gas, gold and copper. Of special interest to industrial miners are manganese nuggets (nodules) the size of potatoes that cover large areas of the ocean floor. Scooping them up with large machines would likely disturb the seabed and seriously destroy the deep-sea habitat. There’s more, though. Sitting at or just below the seabed on continental margins and shelves worldwide are frozen crystals of methane gas hydrates. They are inert while frozen, but potentially highly explosive when brought to the surface—an untapped energy source that, so far, is prohibitively dangerous to extract. “They haven’t figured out how to get to them yet,” Hannigan says. “But if they could capture them, they would solve the world’s energy problems.” But this risky energy source concerns many who worry about what could happen when the hydrates are liberated from the seabed, rising to the surface. This leads to the question of who controls the global ocean. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea sets out the rights of nations to their coastal waters and designates the seabed as an international terrain that belongs to all humankind. Just about everything else is considered an “Area Beyond National Jurisdiction.” “Most of the ocean doesn’t belong to anybody,” says Hannigan. And that’s where the trouble lies. The Geopolitics of Deep Oceans is published by Polity Press.


take home



Students at U of T Scarborough can now consider a minor in Health Humanities, the first of its kind in Canada. This interdisciplinary field explores health, illness and disability through the arts and humanities. We spoke with Program Supervisor Andrea Charise, an assistant professor in Health Studies, to find out more.

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Health Humanities involves theoretical discussions of the representation of illness in the arts as well as more applied, hands-on practices. What attracts me to Health Humanities is how it asks researchers and educators to think about the relationship between the creative imagination of health and illness, and how those ideas get put to work in the “real world.” WHY DOES IT MATTER?

Health Humanities allows us to think more clearly, critically and creatively about the individual experience of health and illness. The arts and humanities are really good at helping us investigate and imagine ways into that complexity, which is often profoundly unique from person to person. Because the effects of health policy, or illness experiences, are often profoundly personal.

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Health Humanities has been around for about 40 years, mostly in medical schools, where the arts have been employed to enhance the teaching of clinical skills like compassion and empathy. But the relationship between arts and medicine is an ancient one. It’s only in the last 20 years or so that we’ve seen the growth of Health Humanities curriculum at the non-professional undergraduate level.


As a new country, people often struggle to identify Canadian foodways. But the answer is right in front of us: it’s our diverse tastes and choices. Daniel Bender, History Canada is perhaps the only country that has entrenched a commitment to multiculturalism within its constitution. We espouse not just a commitment to any specific cultural identities and minority, but to the very idea that we are a multicultural country in our make-up. This is, of course, both celebrated and criticized. Alison Braley-Rattai, Political Science Insulin was discovered in Canada by two Canadian scientists. Part of downtown U of T’s heritage is based on Banting and Best. Aarthi Ashok, Biological Sciences Canada is the only country with a universal health care system that does not also have a universal plan for prescription medications. The absence of a universal pharmacare plan generates unacceptable inequities and inefficiencies, impeding access to needed medications for much of the population and enabling pharmaceutical companies to profiteer at the expense of the public. Anne-Emanuelle Birn, International Health and International Development Studies Toronto is lucky to have a large green area that is now Canada’s newest national park and Canada’s only urban national park, Rouge Park. Marc Cadotte, Biological Sciences

UTSC Commons | Spring 2017


breakthrough thinking

THE WORLD’S A STAGE In his new book, Barry Freeman says theatre can—and should— bring strangers together

While a night out at the theatre can be entertaining, it can also provide us an opportunity to learn about people we don’t know. “Theatre is a powerful and meaningful place to develop relationships among strangers,” says Dr. Barry Freeman, an assistant professor in Theatre and Performance Studies. He focuses his attention on theatre in Canada, mainly in Toronto, “where artists are increasingly telling stories about distant strangers elsewhere in the world.” Freeman chose the word “stranger” intentionally. It’s different from the idea of the “other,” which is someone outside an imagined community or a “neighbour” who is inside it. A stranger is on the threshold, “perhaps looking to be welcomed, though perhaps never quite admitted.” “In the world we find ourselves in today, so many people have this hybrid experience of living on the border,” Freeman says. “The stranger is also a highly theatrical figure in that it is able to be two things at once, much like an actor playing a character who is able to simultaneously be both.” Theatre in Canada has been implicated in making many people strangers, he says. You could start with the European colonists that laid their own traditions over top of the many pre-existing Indigenous performance traditions. “My students are always stunned to learn that up until the 1950s, the so-called Potlatch ban under the Indian Act actually made some traditional forms of indigenous performance illegal,” says Freeman. And there is much to say about how other marginalized groups have struggled to overcome prejudice to be part of the so-called dominant culture in Canada.” In some cases, these other communities have maintained their own performance traditions, 4

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developing theatre in their own language, for their own diaspora. A related phenomenon is what Freeman calls “church basement globalism,” which arises within amateur theatre groups presenting work within specific cultural communities. “If you learn more about these groups, you see that they aren’t strictly ‘local’ at all, but very importantly globally connected to the culture and politics in their homeland,” he says. “They have rehearsed in whatever space was available, such as church basements, but in fact they have been internationally networked.” The tradition continues today, Freeman says, but it’s changing in

response to a more globalized world. And that’s where we can find some hope. Theatre can be a place where we can develop compassion and empathy for outsiders. Freeman highlights nearby companies such as Cahoots Theatre, Why Not Theatre, and the Debajehmujig Storytellers as examples of groups motivated by a desire to generate understanding across cultural divides. “Some theatre seemed to me to be calling on its audience to see, know, feel for and care about distant strangers in some way,” he says. “Staging Strangers is about trying to tune into the ethical nature of the art in how it’s realized between the stage and audience.”



There are only three places in North America you can study the language of Old Ethiopic, or Ge’ez, and one of them is U of T. And at U of T Scarborough, there is a unique collection of digitized Ge’ez literature and art. Professor Michael Gervers of Historical and Cultural Studies has visited ancient sites in Ethiopia, and brought back hundreds of images of documents and artworks. Those images and other resources are being added to the UTSC library’s archive in the Digital Scholarship Unit. You might have heard about the language because of one Abel Tesfaye, aka The Weeknd. His donation to U of T to support Ethiopic Studies was big news and has helped make the university the only place in Canada where Ge’ez can be studied.


For those whose disability makes it hard for them to read print, it can be a struggle to find readable material. Over the last few years, U of T Scarborough’s Chief Librarian has been part of an international effort to ease that struggle. Victoria Owen attended the international meeting that led to the Marrakech Treaty in 2013, an international agreement that allows making accessible formats available

to print-disabled persons without violating copyright laws. When Canada became the 20th country to ratify the treaty, “there was much rejoicing,” says Owen, because the agreement required 20 signatories to bring it into force. Owen spoke to a Senate committee last year to request that they make two amendments to Canada’s version of the law—the legislation required that royalties be paid and that producers check to see if there is an accessible version already on the market. The problem with these two items, she says, is that it increases

Chief Librarian Victoria Owen (seated, second from right) with last year’s Senate committee considering the Marrakech Treaty.

costs and time to develop the materials and therefore limits access. “Access to knowledge is a humanitarian issue,” says Owen. “Libraries are all about access—it’s important for public policy for libraries to be involved.” The Senate eventually passed the law without amendments, but the committee called on the government to consider the two objections after one year. UTSC Commons | Spring 2017


from the field

POWER TO THE PEOPLE? When everyday citizens bring their knowledge to academic research, it’s a challenge to decide how to proceed by Patchen Barss


UTSC Commons | Spring 2017


Scientists instinctively claim ownership

Nicole Klenk studies what is called “transdisciplinary research,” in which researchers and non-academics collaborate in studies.

of knowledge creation. But Nicole Klenk thinks the devotion to scientific method can miss important information that could diminish the real-world value of research. Klenk, an assistant professor in the Department of Physical & Environmental Sciences, studies “transdisciplinary research”—when university researchers partner with non-academics to design, execute and interpret studies. The relationships among collaborators can be complicated. Scientists often enter transdisciplinary projects without realizing how much they may disrupt the process. “I don’t question that they want to produce knowledge that is helpful to decision makers,” Klenk says. But reality doesn’t always match that intent. “In climate science, for instance, questions are answered dominantly through quantitative analyses. Research that deals with in-depth experiential knowledge—from, say, fishermen or farmers who are tied to certain spaces and places—may not be easily aggregated into those analyses.” Klenk describes a team of engineers and anthropologists who were analyzing the sustainability of Caribbean coffee plantations. The anthropologists did in-depth interviews with local growers. The engineers resisted acknowledging the value of these personal narratives. Ultimately, the engineers let go of what Klenk refers to as “the power distribution of different types of knowledge claims.”

The coffee growers’ subjective experiences mattered just as much to the research as did the objective information about rainfall and yields. Without this alternative source of knowledge, the results might have satisfied the engineers, but would have been useless to the coffee growers. Klenk recognizes that complications can go both ways. Non-academic partners can help create innovative approaches and often become the champions when the research is brought into practice. But they can also derail a project, take it in an undesirable direction or damage its credibility. “The history of western science has been a constant struggle against false claims of all sorts,” she says. “The whole point of the scientific method is to show that knowledge works consistently and we can trust it. When you open yourself up to different types of knowledge, does that mean anything goes? That can’t be. But I struggle with who adjudicates those different types of knowledge.” Transdisciplinary research is gaining ground not only in climate science, but in fields ranging from gerontology to urban planning. Klenk says there’s plenty of work to be done to understand how to best make these projects work for everyone. “I think we have a naive view of these collaborative research projects,” she says. “The transformation that we see can sometimes mean letting go of power. But sometimes it’s reinforcing that expert role and trying to keep those boundaries clear.” UTSC Commons | Spring 2017


Shirley Criscione

Bruce Geddes

Veronica Gomez

Alyssa Miller


Scarborough | Spring 2017

It’s Canada’s 150th birthday. We talked to alumni who were at Scarborough College when Canada turned 100 to see what it was like here in the Centennial year. Then we talked to recent grads to see how things have changed. Things sure have changed

by Gilbert Ndikubwayezu

Photography: (Bruce Geddes) LeRoy Toll. Illustration: Taylor Kristan


he Scarborough College

bus was moving slowly as usual, dropping students off at the intersections. Ralph, the driver, was everyone’s favourite, both for his sense of humour and his willingness to weave through neighbourhoods, getting people as close to home as possible. On that chilly Tuesday evening, Bruce Geddes was daydreaming his way home to Eglinton and Victoria Park after a day of French and political science classes. Then, as the bus passed Yonge, moving east on Wellesley­— boom! The whole city went dark. “Other than car headlights the city disappeared in a haunting blackness,” Geddes remembers. “None of us knew what had happened, and our ride home was unforgettable as we watched people trying to find their way in the dark.” It was November 9, 1965—the day of the Great Northeast Blackout. If the day stands out in Geddes’s memory for its drama, it also serves as a marker of how student life has evolved in this institution over the past 50 years.

That fall, Geddes was one of fewer than 200 students registered at Scarborough College in its inaugural year. Their classes were actually in the old Biology building downtown, because the Scarborough campus was still under construction. It would still be incomplete when they moved in the next year. “Some days we felt we should have been wearing hard hats,” Geddes jokes, “since workers continued to finish off areas as we attended lectures in the beautiful new teaching halls.” In those early days, classes were very small—from five to 25 students, compared with dozens or hundreds at the downtown campus. They developed close relationships among themselves and with faculty and staff. A librarian might pass you in the cafeteria and remind you, by first name, that your book was overdue. Geddes says there was “a real community feeling. We truly felt that staff and faculty were always ready to do the best for us.” Fifty years later, hundreds of students live in residence on the U of T Scarborough campus, in single or double rooms priced anywhere between $4,000 and $9,000. A

sizeable number still live off campus, but transit now goes in all directions. Commuting more than 30 km from Oshawa was no problem for Alyssa Miller, who graduated in 2016 with a double major in Political Science and Sociology. She made the trip for five years—first on the flashy GO train, which took less than 30 minutes, allowing her plenty of time to socialize before class. Things got even better in 2013, when Durham Region Transit launched an express bus from Oshawa straight to UTSC. “Living off-campus didn’t stop me from making friends,” says Miller. “It’s a smaller campus, so if you’re open to new experiences and talking to people, you’ll meet people quickly.” Popular annual events such as UTSC on Ice helped bring students together. Miller enjoyed the free skating trip to the Harbourfront Centre and was glad to contribute to a good cause—the students collected donations to help the community’s less fortunate. Another advantage of modern-day UTSC is the rich selection of cultural, recreational and entertainment activities. Interhouse leagues now compete in the state-of-the-art Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre. And Miller enjoyed top-notch concerts, both on campus and around town. “I was never much of a partier, but there were some really cool events organized by various groups on campus,” she says. Veronica Gomez, a recent graduate in English Literature and Psychology, attended ballets and visited art galleries, both on and off campus. And she spent many weekends downtown, enjoying the nightlife. “There were a lot of bars and clubs that were mostly populated with students,” she says. “So you’d always bump into someone that you’d know.” UTSC Commons | Spring 2017


Differences between students were seen as an opportunity to learn and grow with one another, not something to separate us. Gomez, who now works at Health Bound Health Network rehabilitation centre, belonged to a group called Students of English Literature and Film, and helped organize some of their events. She also worked in UTSC’s Admissions & Student Recruitment office, helping with events for prospective students; at the annual Ontario University Fair; and every summer at the Academic Advising & Career Centre. As a coach for the centre’s Get Started program, Gomez helped incoming students prepare for the transition to university. “That was always a very fulfilling experience,” she says. Student life was quieter for Bruce Geddes. Entertainment and nightlife on campus were almost non-existent. He does recall a drama group that 10

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would stage plays sporadically, and a soccer team that played quite well against other colleges. Otherwise, he says, “the only excitement was catching up on your reading and late essays in the library.” Except—there was one other thing: In Canada’s 100th year, 1967, the Toronto Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup. No one knew that it might be the last time. Still, snatching a ticket to those playoff games would have been a dream. Shirley Criscione was one of Scarborough College’s first graduates in 1968. Her memories of nightlife on campus: hanging out at the small cafeteria or occasionally going to movies. Meanwhile, if you missed a class, there were no laptops or cellphones to help you catch up. “You had to get lecture notes from a friend,” says Criscione. “If you were lucky, they might put carbon paper behind their note-taking and create a copy.”

A year’s tuition might have been $500, and another $50 for books. Of course, three loaves of bread cost 21 cents, as did three boxes of Kraft Dinner if they were on sale. Criscione worked part time as a cashier at Dominion for 65 cents an hour. A top-paying summer job would bring around $40 a week. “You went home and gave your family half your paycheque,” she says. “Many people did this. So it was difficult to save up that $500.” She remembers the college’s lack of diversity, which reflected the fact that Scarborough itself—and even Toronto—was much different then. Criscione had no Jewish friends until she came to the college, and even then most of her classmates were white and Protestant—and a few Catholics. There were 97 students in that first graduating class, and only one of them was black. In Criscione’s high school days, most girls were still planning to become teachers, nurses or secretaries. She was the first woman on either side of her family (and it was


a large one) to go to university. It wasn’t common for women to consider the professions—there weren’t many female doctors and hardly any female engineers. Sexism was rampant. “I remember an incident in my third year,” says Criscione. “I had saved up and bought myself a three-piece outfit: a skirt, a pair of slacks and a matching jacket. I thought I looked pretty smart in the suit,” she says. “After astronomy class, the professor took me aside and spoke to me: ‘You will not wear slacks to class again. Dressing in slacks is not acceptable.’ So, of course, I didn’t wear that suit with slacks again, only with the skirt. When I look back, I can’t believe that I accepted his edict and abided by it.” “We were a homogeneous group of students,” says Geddes, “white, living in east Toronto for the most part, no international students, largely of British and some European stock. Sexual orientation was not a public issue like it is today. It was not as open a topic for discussion.” Toronto, and Canada at large, would progressively become shaped by immigration policies that welcomed people from other countries. By 2006, half of Toronto’s population was born outside of Canada, and 47 per cent reported themselves as being part of a visible minority. More than 140 languages and dialects were spoken in the city by then, and over 30 per cent of Torontonians spoke a language other than English or French at home. There is no better place to see this reflected than at UTSC. Gomez, who graduated in the summer of 2016, says how amazing it was to look down the row during any lecture and see people from different ethnicities and cultures. It meant, she says, “that there were always opportunities

to learn something new. I’ve never experienced that type of inclusiveness anywhere else. “There were clubs and student groups that embraced all types of cultures and subjects. It seemed that no matter what you were interested in or where you were from, there was always a place for you. I’m happy to say that diversity was something that was embraced when I was a student,” she says. “Differences between students were seen as an opportunity

to learn and grow with one another, not something to separate us.” Criscione and her husband recently attended a celebratory event at UTSC for donor alumni. When they looked around, they noticed that the older alumni were pretty homogenous, much like that first graduating class. But the younger ones were as mixed a group as you could find anywhere on the streets of Toronto. “To me,” says Criscione, “that is worth celebrating in itself.” UTSC Commons | Spring 2017



RECONCILIATION The cultural timescale of Indigenous people in this landscape goes back 13,000 more years 10,000 BCE


UTSC Commons | Spring 2017



n the evening of November 16, 2016, about 100 students came to the screening of a documentary that explored a shameful piece of Canadian history. The film, The Pass System, was about laws that were established after the Northwest Rebellion of 1885. The “pass laws,” as they were called, required any Indigenous person in Western Canada to get a written pass from the local Indian agent if they wanted to go anywhere off their reserve. This stayed in effect until 1941. The audience—partly Indigenous, partly not—applauded after the film. But the response was subdued, even awkward. “The event was discomforting,” says organizer Joe Hermer, an associate professor of sociology at U of T Scarborough. “For many people, this was the first time they had been exposed to the treatment of Indigenous people. The university has failed miserably in this area. By being silent, the prejudice in popular culture takes over.” This is why many such events are happening here and across U of T, as part of the University’s response to Canada’s Truth

and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). The TRC has delivered 94 calls to action— many of them to federal and other levels of government asking for policy changes to address the legacy of the Indian residential school system and other aspects of Canada’s own cultural genocide. But true reconciliation arises not just from Ottawa’s missives, delivered topdown. It requires a genuine shift in the relationship between Indigenous people and other Canadians. For a university, that means understanding how and why it has ignored Indigenous history and culture, and working to change that. Indigenous people have long been silenced—politically, culturally, economically and linguistically. The pass laws mentioned earlier are but one example of attempts to control them and restrain their opposition to losing their land. Indigenous voices and stories have been left out of history books. But today Indigenous people are speaking out—changing the perception of Canada’s past, and also its present and future.

John Cabot lands on the eastern coast of what will become Canada 1497 1500




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Huron-Wendat were pushed out by the Haudenosaunee (a confederacy of five Indigenous nations, including the Seneca), who were later massacred by the French. The Mississaugas then moved into the area. It was a long and turbulent history marked by wars, war heroes and great battles; epidemics; political allegiances; treaties and international confederacies; and constitutions such as the Iroquois Great Law of Peace. After the TRC released its final report in 2015 and after close consultation with U of T’s First Nations House, members of the U of T Scarborough community began to say the following before all important events:


Amos Key Jr.

Suzanne Methot

Jon Johnson

his year marks Canada’s sesquicentennial, but the history of people on this land goes back far beyond 150 years. In Toronto and Scarborough, the estimate is 10,000 to 13,000 years. The first people recorded in the area in written history were the Huron-Wendat, a confederacy of four nations. Professor Jon Johnson says there were an estimated 75,000 people from the Huron-Wendat and other Indigenous nations living in what is now the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Johnson, a member of York University’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, is one of the founders of First Story Toronto, a program at the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto. The program researches and shares the city’s Indigenous heritage through walking tours. (See Part Four for the campus’s partnership with First Story Toronto.) However, with disease and the stresses and wars that came with European presence, the HuronWendat confederacy was greatly weakened, and to maintain their numbers, they joined together with the Tionontate nation. After an epic battle in 1649, the




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We wish to acknowledge this land on which the University of Toronto operates. For thousands of years it has been the traditional land of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and most recently, the Mississaugas of the Credit River. Today, this meeting place is still the home to many Indigenous people from across Turtle Island and we are grateful to have the opportunity to work on this land. But at many public events in the GTA, only the last of the tribes—the Mississaugas, who moved here between 1700 and 1720—are acknowledged. Several Indigenous authors have expressed irritation at this practice, including Suzanne Methot, a Cree author and educator originally from Peace River, Alberta. “When we acknowledge Toronto as ‘Mississauga territory,’ we commit a grave error in inclusive practice,” Methot has written in her blog, “We superimpose a Eurocentric frame of reference on what is included, not included and valued in the discussion …. By prioritizing the Mississauga agreement with the Crown and assuming that the Mississauga ‘own’ this


WHO HAS LIVED HERE. territory as a result, we reproduce the idea that it is possible (and desirable) to own creation. The fact is, Toronto has played host to no less than three distinct peoples (the Huron, the Haudenosaunee and the Mississauga), two different cultures (Iroquoian and Algonquian), and was the site of many trade gatherings and inter-tribal ceremonies.” The differences between the three peoples were stark. The Huron-Wendat, Seneca and Mississauga all spoke different languages. They dressed differently and prayed to different gods. They had different gender-role divisions. The Mississauga were mainly patrilineal, while both the Wendat and Seneca were matrilineal and matriarchal. The Mississauga were semi-nomadic hunters; the Wendat and Seneca farmed the land. Different tribes are “as different as the French and English,” explains Professor Amos Key Jr., a Mohawk elder who teaches at U of T’s Centre for Indigenous Studies and Department of Linguistics. A lack of specificity is a reminder, says Key, of a category first imposed on Indigenous people, without consultation, by a paternalist document, the Indian Act. Under the act, Indigenous people living on reserves were labeled “Indians” and given status cards—the source of the term “card-carrying Indian”—as a legal defini­tion. This made it easier for the federal government to enact policy that was often aimed at exactly what Indigenous people did not want: assimilation.


-Amos Key Jr.

Toronto and Scarborough’s Indigenous history is long and complex. Here’s how it breaks down:

Huron-Wendat. 10,000 BCE


Other names: Huron, Wendat, Wyandot Meaning of name: Huron, meaning “boar’s head,” was given to the Wendat by the French, supposedly in reference to how they wore their hair. Wendat means “islanders” or “dwellers on a peninsula.” Date in the region: 10,000 BCE to 1650 CE. Indigenous people are believed to have lived in the area from about 10,000 BCE; whether the

Huron-Wendat were the very first is unknown. Origin or composition: The Huron-Wendat emerged from the remnants of two earlier groups: the Huron Confederacy and Tionontate, also called the Tobacco Nation. Language spoken: Wyandot, part of the Iroquoian language group Why they left: They were decimated first by disease after contact with Europeans, then by war with the Haudenosaunee.

Haudenosaunee. Other Name: Iroquois (a French word) Meaning of name: From the Seneca hotínöhsö:ni:h, meaning “house builders” Date in the region: 1650 to 1700 Origin or composition: The Haudenosaunee is a confederacy of Indigenous nations: Onondaga, Mohawk, Seneca, 1700



Meaning of name: From the Anishinaabe Misi-zaagiing, meaning “those at the great river-mouth” Date in the region: 1700 to 1847 Origin or compostion: Closely related to the Ojibwe nation Language spoken: Anishinaabe, part of the Algonquian language family Why they left: In 1787, the British Crown made what was known as the Toronto Purchase from the Mississauga. It was of



Cayuga, Oneida and Tuscarora Languages spoken: Onondaga, Mohawk, Seneca, Cayuga, Oneida and Tuscarora—all distinct languages in the Iroquoian language group Why they left: They were decimated by disease and wars with the French and with other Indigenous nations.

dubious legality: the deed was left blank, the exact land size was unclear and the names of Mississauga chiefs were attached by separate pieces of paper. The agreement was renegotiated in 1805, and the Mississauga were moved to near Brantford, where they live today. In 2010, the Mississaugas of New Credit First Nation was compensated $145 million for the unlawful transfer of land.

More than 70,000 Indigenous people from all over Canada live in and around Toronto, including Anishinaabe, Cree, Haudenosaunee and Métis. Two Wampum Treaty 1613





UTSC Commons | Spring 2017


John Milloy

Thomas King

Once organized and numbered, the people were easier to control. So explains author Thomas King in The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America. “Even though disease and conflict had dramatically reduced the tribes, there were still, in the minds of policy makers, too many Indians. Too many Indians, too many tribes, too many languages. Indians were a great sprawling mess. “What was needed,” King continues, “was a plan to give this snarl of cultures a definitive and manageable form. So, out of ignorance, disregard, frustration and expediency, North America set about creating a single entity, an entity that would stand for the whole. The Indian.” Making “the Indian” into what King describes as “good little white brown men” through the use of residential schools was thought to be in the nation’s best interest. To that end, Catholics, Anglicans and

The Indian Wars 1622-1924 1620


Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents 1632-1673 1630

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Library and Archives Canada, FR CAOM COL C11A 2 fol. 263-269

From the Report on the nine Iroquois families, with totems, 1666

Methodists competed for funds from the Department of Indian Affairs. The goal: to convert the so-called heathens and pagans. The first residential schools were established in the 1800s, and the system reached its peak around 1930, with 80 schools housing a total of 17,000 children. In 1979 there were still 15 residential schools in Canada, and the very last one—the Gordon Residential School in Saskatchewan— didn’t close until 1996. They were in all parts of Canada except Newfoundland, New Brunswick and PEI, with the largest concentration in the Prairie and Western provinces. The system was not designed for sustainability, writes John Milloy, author of A National Crime: The Canadian Government and the Residential School System, 1879 to 1986. With competition between churches, there was a period of rapid growth. Everyone—at least everyone non-Indigenous—had a vested interest in opening more schools. The churches wanted more converts. The government wanted to assimilate Indigenous people and close the reserves—in other words, as it was spoken of at the time, to “solve the Indian problem.” And Canada wanted cheap farm labour. From the beginning, residential schools were known to have serious problems. But once they had started, they were too big to fail.

Huron-Wendat & Haudenosaunee Battle 1649 1640




The year was 1687.





Duncan Campbell Scott

Dr. Peter Bryce

n 1904, the Department of Indian Affairs sent Dr. Peter Bryce to investigate the conditions of residential schools in Western Canada. His indictment was damning. The schools were mouldy, cold, damp and falling apart. “A trail of disease and death has gone on almost unchecked by any serious efforts on the part of the department,” Bryce wrote in his 1907 report. In some schools, the death rate of children was one in two. This wasn’t what Ottawa wanted to hear. Duncan Campbell Scott, deputy superintendent of the department, pulled support for the research, and Bryce was blocked from presenting his findings at conferences. Finally, in 1921, he was fired from his job as chief medical officer. In addition, the government stopped collecting death records at the schools. Later, 200,000 Indian Affairs files from between 1936 and 1944 were destroyed. This is one reason there is still dispute, even today, about how many children died in the schools. Sue Enberg, a documentary filmmaker and indigenous activist, says the firing of Peter Bryce showed “a concerted attempt by the Canadian

Sue Hammond Enberg

Jacques-René de Brisay de Denonville, the governor of New France, was travelling on what is now Scarborough’s Kingston Road. He’d been riding all day and was tired, but he kept pushing north, a few more miles up the Rouge River, where there was a village of 700 people. The locals called it Ganatsekwyagon, which is Seneca for “among the birches.” All Haudenosaunee place names were inspired by the most notable feature of the landscape. This includes “Tkaranto,” which “Toronto” comes from. It means “where there are trees in the water.” Denonville didn’t take detailed notes, except to say that villages in the area were encircled by wooden palisades and surrounded by fields of corn. But we have a picture of Ganatsekwyagon, thanks to Indigenous sources and archae­ ological digs at places such as Scarborough’s Bead Hill. We know the corn fields also contained squash and beans, a combination that was called the Three Sisters. The three were planted together in the fields that stretched out as far as the eye could see. They were supportive “sisters,” with each plant nourishing and sustaining the others. The beans pulled nitrogen from the air and fixed it in the soil; the corn stalks gave the beans structural support; and the large leaves of the sprawling squash provided shade for all three. After the crops came grasslands. What looked wild and unruly was actually highly cultivated. Species such as Indiangrass, big bluestem and little bluestem were planted several miles from the village. It was a manmade savannah. Moose, elk, partridge, pigeon, wild turkey, fowl and other creatures would live there and feast on it. And hunting would be easy for the villagers all year long. By 1690—only three years later—Ganatsekwyagon was abandoned. Some said it was because of the “white man’s diseases” that had raged across the continent’s northeast. Others said Denonville or his soldiers had burned it to the ground as part of a war against the Seneca. This had happened to other Haudenosaunee villages and would happen again—acts that Denonville claimed for the French as part of his contribution to the Beaver Wars, the 150-year battle for control of the fur trade. Similar fates would befall other Haudenosaunee villages nearby: Teiaiagon, Gaensera, Tohaiton, Onnutague, Onnennatu. By 1700, there would be no Haudenosaunee presence in the Scarborough or Toronto area. They had left their mark on the land though. And their Nation and way of life would continue, eventually pushed to reserves in places such as Tonawanda, New York and Grand River, Ontario.


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Edmund Metatawabin

Andrew Wesley

government to hide its attempts at committing cultural genocide.” Similarly, teachers and other staff were ignored when they tried to give warnings about sickness and death. A culture of cruelty and silence arose, says Andrew Wesley, elder in residence at U of T’s First Nations House. And the children, of course, were silenced too. At most schools, their silencing began at dawn. Once they awoke, they were forbidden to speak unless spoken to. Any criticism about the school would be deleted from their letters home. They weren’t allowed to tell outsiders, such as the school inspectors who visited every few months, what was really going on. “They beat us,” says Edmund Metatawabin, a Cree activist, author and former student of St. Anne’s Residential School in northern

Marilyn Buffalo


-Edmund Metatawabin

The Mississaugas move into the GTA 1710-1720 1700



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Algoma University, Engracia De Jesus Matias Archives, Edmund Metatawabin Collection, 2012-001-001 (025)

Boys in a classroom, Edmund Metatawabin’s Collection from the Algoma University archives

Ontario. He says children were whipped or hit with whatever was at hand—books, bells, etc. If they broke the rules, they were electrocuted in a homemade electric chair or locked in a dark basement—solitary confinement, essentially—with rats. “It was absolute hell in there. But if we tried to speak out, they whipped or beat us.” Metatawabin wrote about the experience in his memoir Up Ghost River [co-written with one of this article’s authors, Alexandra Shimo—Ed.]. When Indigenous leaders spoke against the abuse, their concerns were widely left out of mainstream media. Consider the 1970 protest at Blue Quills Residential School, 200 kilometres northeast of Edmonton. According to former Native Women’s Association of Canada President Marilyn Buffalo, herself a residential school survivor, the school was widely known as being abusive, which is why 300 people, including students and community leaders, both Indigenous and non-, organized a month-long sit-in. “We had had enough. We organized a political takeover because we were tired of being indoctrinated in a foreign language and culture. We wanted no more abuse or cultural genocide. We wanted the nuns and priests out.” Yet the media coverage includes no mention of pervasive student abuse. Instead, the sit-in was framed as a political tiff, a struggle for administrative control. “Indians stage sit-in over school transfer proposal,” announced the July 15 headline in the Edmonton Journal. The subhead: “A group of Alberta Indians started a sit-in at a school near St. Paul, and do not intend to end it until certain educational questions are resolved.” For many, there are parallels between the silencing in the media,

St. Anne’s Indian Residential School, Edmund Metatawabin’s Collection from the Algoma University archives

1983, the book gives a wonderfully detailed account of economic history, but it doesn’t cover residential schools and barely mentions Indigenous people. Five hundred years of Indigenous history is given five pages of the 395-page book, and even then the topic is seen through a colonial, somewhat reductive lens. “Whatever their form of life, Native North Americans saw themselves as part of nature and not its masters,” Morton wrote. “Though they fought other bands and nations, they had very little sense of territorial ownership.” In other words, Indigenous people liked to fight, though not about anything in particular. And they

didn’t need land because they had no sense of ownership. The latter may be politically convenient, but is contrary to many historic documents. Whether or not the omissions were deliberate, the impact is hard to underestimate. So explains Wayne Spear, a Mohawk and author of Full Circle: The Aboriginal Healing Foundation and the Unfinished Work of Hope, Healing and Reconciliation. “When you leave Indigenous people and their stories out of history,” says Spear, “you are pretty much invalidating their experience, saying that it doesn’t matter.” Spear says the omissions have made it much harder for non-Native people to cross cultural boundaries and understand and relate to the Indigenous experience. “If you aren’t familiar with the history of another group, and if you can’t empathize, it becomes an impediment to doing anything else.”

The Royal Proclamation, 1763, from Archives Canada.

Wayne K. Spear

(top) Algoma University, Engracia De Jesus Matias Archives, Edmund Metatawabin Collection, 2012-001-001 (027); (bottom) Library and Archives Canada, e010778430, AMICUS no. 7468714

of the children and the political silencing of adults. Until 1960, Indigenous people couldn’t vote in Canada. They couldn’t hire lawyers. Nor could they demand political representation. It was illegal for them to form political parties until 1951. (Those who met certain criteria could gain the vote and other full rights of Canadian citizenship by doing what was called “enfranchising”—giving up their ancestral identities and rights, including the right to live on a reserve. The criteria included being male; over 21; able to read, write and speak either English or French; and being of “good moral character.”) After so much disenfranchisement and marginalization, it is perhaps no wonder that Indigenous stories have long been excluded from an institution such as U of T. “The bottom line is that there is very little institutional knowledge at the university around these issues,” says Sociology Professor Joe Hermer, who organized the screening of The Pass System. Desmond Morton’s A Short History of Canada, one of the most popular books of its kind, is an illustration. Morton, a professor emeritus at U of T was principal of Erindale College from 1986 to 1994. First published in

The Royal Proclamation 1763 1740




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communities: residential schools and the abuse that took place in them. “When RCAP went out to do this national tour,” says Wayne Spear, “they had a long list of things they knew they were going to hear about, including land claims, language loss, housing, diabetes, suicide. The one thing they didn’t anticipate was residential schools. “This was 1991,” he continues. “The first person would talk about residential schools, and then everyone else would start talking about it. It was like a floodgate. That’s when they realized, ‘this is a huge issue and we really have to look at it.’”

Photograph from Oka Crisis of protestor and soldier, 1990. The crisis was one of the instigating factors for the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.

Nora Bernard

n the summer of 1990, a decision to expand a golf course led to a sweltering and violent standoff between the Kanien’keha:ke (Mohawks) of Kanesatake, Quebec, and the Canadian army. Known as the Oka crisis, it is emblematic of what can happen when Aboriginal land claims are ignored for generations— a violent and bitter confrontation. But from the ashes rose the beginnings of something positive. To avoid such conflicts in future, Brian Mulroney’s federal government established the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP), to interview Indigenous people nationwide and examine the historical, political and economic causes of contemporary problems on reserves. One topic consistently emerged as having destroyed individuals and

© THE CANADIAN PRESS/Shaney Komulainen


As more people came forward, questions were raised. How widespread was the abuse? Were all the schools abusive or just some? And how could people who supposedly gave their lives to the service of God become abusive and sadistic or—even worse—become sexual predators who targeted children? In 1995, Nora Bernard, a grandmother who lived near Truro, Nova Scotia, filed a claim not just on her own behalf, but on behalf of all Mi’kmaq First Nation children who had attended the Shubenacadie Residential School. As more students stepped forward, the case would eventually become the largest class action lawsuit in Canada. Individual court cases, too, were an important step in the long march towards justice. But after a few years, it became apparent that they, in their own way, were silencing people. Abuse, especially sexual abuse, is hard to prove at the best of times. Given the private nature of the crime, there is often a lack of witnesses and evidence. For residential school victims, many of who were abused decades before, it was nearly impossible. First, each claimant would need school documents to prove they had even attended the school in question— this when many school files had been




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-Wayne Spear

lost or deliberately destroyed. They would need a lawyer willing to take the case—usually pro bono. And they would need to prove they had been sexually or physically abused—this when many of the schools did not keep medical records. The challenge was to prove that things had happened the way they said, often decades earlier, with some of the witnesses now dead, and with memory often imprecise because of time, trauma and, sometimes, alcohol. A claimant who succeeded despite all this would get a financial payout—usually a few thousand dollars. The process was also antithetical to Indigenous conceptions of justice. For instance, as Wayne Spear explains, the Cree word for justice, kintohpatatin, loosely translates to “you’ve been listened to.” This sees justice as something that will be achieved only if the crime against you, and its impact on your life, is taken seriously by someone compassionate and fair—someone who will work with you and the perpetrator to find a form of redress that takes your needs seriously. “Indigenous people only go to court if it’s the last resort,” Spear says. “They would prefer a healing circle or something non-confrontational. With the court system, the best-case scenario is that you get a cheque. You can buy a truck or whatever. But what does that get you? It’s not as if it fixes your life.”


Spear adds that the court system brings another level of cultural degradation and power dynamics. “We’ve been screwed over so many times by Canadian courts,” he says. “They don’t even recognize the legitimacy of our laws or experiences.” By the early 2000s, there was a sense that residential school abuse was more widespread than had been recognized. Faced with ever more cases, the government introduced an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process in 2003. Instead of a court case, an independent adjudicator would listen to the evidence, then award compensation based on government-approved guidelines. ADR was supposed to be faster, less formal and more humane and compassionate than the court system. But two years later, its failings were clear. Whether the claim was for $200 or $200,000, each case had to be personally approved by the assistant deputy minister of Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada. And the government scrutinized and challenged many of the adjudicators’ decisions. In one case, Ottawa spent $20,000 on legal costs and travelling expenses to challenge a claim with a $3,500 ceiling. In another case, Flora Merrick, 88, of the Long Plain First Nation in Manitoba, applied for $1,500 for having been beaten and locked in solitary confinement in “a small, dark room” for two weeks—a punishment


for trying to run away. Again the government spent $20,000—this time not to challenge the truth of her story, but to challenge her right to compensation. Their argument: such inhumane treatment was morally acceptable, as it was consistent with the “standards of the day.” For every $1 awarded to survivors through ADR, Ottawa spent $4 on lawyers and administrative costs. And the process was slow. By 2005, only 50 of 12,000 claims had been settled, and the rest were estimated to take the next 53 years. The average age of the claimants was 68, and they were dying at a rate of about five per week. As Jim Prentice, a Calgary MP at the time, summed up the ADR process: “Judged by any sensible measure, it’s been a disaster.” Meanwhile, Nora Bernard’s class action case was still making its way through the courts—now encompassing others including the Cloud, Dieter, Pauchay, Straightnose and Baxter National class action cases. By 2006, the suit involved 79,000 former students. That December, a single compensation deal was reached: the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA). It was a landmark deal and one of the most complex in Canadian history. The federal government agreed to pay $2 billion to the survivors of Canada’s residential schools. The deal also included establishing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).



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Tim O’Loan

Murray Sinclair

Modelled on the South African commission of the same name, Canada’s TRC provided a national forum for Indigenous people’s stories to be told, heard and recorded. In South Africa, it was widely believed that reconciliation would begin with the truth of what had really happened during the 46-year period (1948-1994) of the Apartheid era. Officially, the government admitted to “suppressing political resistance.” But the details were far more disturbing and tragic, and included disappearances, assassinations, beatings and the widely used “necklacing” (a form of torture/ murder where a rubber tire is tied around the neck, filled with gasoline and set alight). All were left out of the media coverage, history books and official narrative. According to Richard Goldstone, a world-renowned South African judge, there were two histories of apartheid prior to the TRC: the “white history of denial,” and the truth: a history of abuse against black people. Canada’s crimes against its Indigenous population have not included state-orchestrated murder

of political opponents. But Canada’s reserves actually influenced Apartheid. South African officials toured and studied reserves in Western Canada several times—most recently in 1962. And the violence and deaths in residential schools alone demanded a nationwide reckoning. As the Honourable Murray Sinclair, who chaired the TRC, wrote in his final report: the residential school abuse wasn’t limited to a few errant priests, but part of a larger systematic program to wipe out Indigenous cultures and identities. Residential schools were its keystone, whose mandate was “kill the Indian to save the man.” But for the past 150 years, there have been pervasive and sustained policies to decimate First Nations’ political and social structures, including forced displacements to dispossess First Nations of their land; the pass laws; the suppression of Indigenous religions and cultures under the Potlatch Ban; the wilful destruction of traditional Indigenous economies under the Indian Act; broken treaties; the forced removal of children from their parents and communities, for adoption, usually by non-Indigenous families (known as the Sixties Scoop); and the elimination of historic records showing that all of the above took place. Accepting the truth about residential schools is just the first part of the healing process. So explains Sinclair, who was Alberta’s first-ever Indigenous judge and is now a Canadian senator. But real reconciliation is about more than correcting the history books; it is about shifting the relationship between Indigenous and nonIndigenous people. To accomplish this, the TRC issued 94 calls to action. “The fact that [they] were termed ‘calls to action’ and not simply ‘recommendations,’ and that they were addressed not just to all levels of government, but to the private sector,

The Potlatch Laws 1876-1985 1860



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churches, educational institutions, and civil society has meant that Canadians are taking the TRC challenges seriously,” explains Tim O’Loan, former advisor to the chair of the TRC, and a Dene First Nation person living in Ottawa. Forty-five of these calls to action were addressed to the federal government; the rest were to provincial, territorial and municipal governments, private institutions and civic society. Education was a key component: the TRC called on federal, provincial and territorial jurisdictions to provide the funding necessary for change. And it called on educators to work with residential school survivors and other Indigenous people to “indigenize the curriculum” and integrate Indigenous knowledge and teaching methods into classrooms. Many universities—including Lakehead, Winnipeg, Saskatchewan and Regina—responded to the calls to action, and began to work towards addressing all the ways that they had, inadvertently or not, silenced Indigenous people. U of T and UTSC are setting out on that journey now. “Sixties scoop” scandal, Saturday Star, 2011

The Potlatch Laws 1885-1951 1880



Aboriginal populations in Canada. My mom worked in Toronto for many years at various Native organizations, so I expected there to be at least some supports or initiatives at UTSC.” Hill’s studies in computer science meant she spent a lot of time in “a whole faculty of white men.” She didn’t see herself represented in her program. This did little to combat the racist stereotypes she had long been aware of—that Indigenous youth “don’t belong” in university and “aren’t smart enough.” “I don’t see myself reflected in the architecture, in the land, in the staff,” she explains. “Staff would tell me, ‘You can just go to First Nations House [on the St. George campus] for that.’” But the trip downtown would take three hours from her day. Hill’s feelings of invisibility were reflected in her interactions with fellow students. “They thought I was Hispanic or Filipino. When I told them I was Native, they didn’t even know what that was.” And the assumptions they did have about Indigenous Canadians came from stereotypes or misconceptions: “They’d say, ‘Oh, you go to school for free, right? You don’t pay taxes, do you?’”

Dr. Peter Bryce investigates schools 1904 1900

Diane Hill

iane Hill is well acquainted with Canada’s history of cultural genocide against her people. When she was small, her grandfather told her stories of being forbidden from speaking Oneida at his elementary school in Middlesex County, Ontario. And this was a public—not residential—school. The concern was that speaking the Oneida language would disrupt his education. Hill’s own childhood, in contrast, offered many reasons for hope. She grew up in the Oneida Nation of the Thames community in south­ western Ontario—a place, she says, with many youth programs that celebrated the community and taught its culture. She was taught some Oneida at her elementary school, Standing Stone. When she arrived at U of T Scarborough as an undergraduate, however, things took a turn. The campus she had chosen because of its reputation for excellence lacked Indigenous services, Indigenous faculty and any kind of Indigenous centre. “I was surprised at the lack of representation,” says Hill, “because Toronto has one of the largest urban

Cat Criger


Hill thought about switching to a university with more Indigenous outreach. “At Western,” she says, “they had this program where they’d take youth from my community and have an exchange or do summer programming. For me, that was really inspiring. It showed me that I could belong.” Cat Criger, an Indigenous elder who works with youth across U of T’s campuses, encouraged Hill to stay. So did staff at Student Life. She focused on building up her emotional, spiritual and physical well-being, which helped increase her confidence. Instead of switching schools, she switched to a double major in health studies and anthropology, which she felt passionate about. She also felt she could help create change. “What I realized is that I’m here for a reason.” Now 22, Hill has become an educator and activist. In 2016, she gave a TEDxUTSC talk about the barriers Indigenous youth face in the education system. Other Canadians tend to talk about systemic discrimination against Indigenous people as if it was

Dr. Peter Bryce is fired and death record collection is halted 1921 1910

200,000 Indian Affairs records are destroyed 1936-1944



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Jill Carter

John Croutch

Philip Cote

Lee Maracle

distant history, she says, but major obstacles still exist. “The university, like other institutions, is coming to terms with its own complicity in the fact that Indigenous issues have been invisible,” says Joe Hermer. Universities face a great responsibility in implementing the TRC calls to action. Some U of T Scarborough faculty have been adding content to their curricula, such as Hermer’s screening of The Pass System. Last winter, to formally address the silencing of Indigenous people and the need to indigenize the university, U of T formed a 17-member Truth and Reconciliation Commission Steering Committee to review the 94 calls to action and implement those that are applicable to the post-secondary setting. The committee, formed by U of T President Meric Gertler and VicePresident and Provost Cheryl Regehr, included Indigenous students such as Hill, and elders such as Lee Maracle, an author and Indigenous studies instructor. Its final report was released this January. Titled Wecheehetowin (Cree for “working together”), the report called for integrating more accurate Indigenous history and culture into the curriculum. It called for honouring the truth, but also for reconciliation: healing and promoting U of T’s relationship with Indigenous students, hiring Indigenous faculty and designating more Indigenous spaces. “This is going to be a task of months and years—it’s not going to be a quick fix,” says Bruce Kidd, U of T vicepresident and U of T Scarborough principal. There are many immediate plans, though. First on the list: the hiring of Indigenous faculty, lecturers, guest educators and staff. “Part of what we have to think about,” says Professor William Gough,

Legal right to form a political party 1951 1940



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Sexual equality, though still a work in progress, is a key value of Canadian society. The women’s rights movement was informed by Indigenous practices that date back to the 1600s in the area. In 17th-century Europe, women’s rights were non-existent. A married woman was her husband’s property. Anything she earned or inherited during the marriage—as well as her dowry—was automatically his. Neither rape nor domestic violence was a crime. In contrast, the Haudenosaunee First Nation was matrilocal: on marriage, a Haudenosaunee man would go to live with his wife and her family, who would run the household. Ganatsekwyagon (see “Snapshot of a Village”) and other 17th-century Haudenosaunee villages in the Toronto area were models of women’s rights. Women did the agricultural work, and as farmers they had their own source of income. If a man was abusive, the woman could evict him from the house. And if a couple divorced, the woman would automatically receive her share of their joint property—and custody of the children. In war, women could take up arms. People prayed to “Mother Earth” and the “Sky Mother.” The Haudenosaunee were long gone from the GTA area by the time of the women’s rights movement in North America. But suffragists including Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Matilda Joslyn Gage visited Haudenosaunee communities in upstate New York. There they saw the same evidence of women’s rights in action. They wrote newspaper articles about this and discussed it at forums such as the first International Council of Women in 1888 in Washington D.C.—an event to which nine countries, including Canada, sent delegates. Haudenosaunee ideals and practices—of women’s rights, political enfranchisement, equal pay, communal childcare, female political leadership and homes without sexual discrimination or violence—became part of the political discourse of suffragists. In mainstream Canadian society, some of these concepts would slowly become realities. Women in Manitoba won the right to vote in 1916, and women in the last province, Quebec, in 1940; Kim Campbell became the first female Prime Minister of Canada in 1993. Today, as universities start to implement the TRC calls to action, by indigenizing history, it’s worth remembering the Indigenous ideas, names, beliefs and ideologies that have informed or contributed to the national culture all along.

Burial mound found on Taber Hill 1956

Blue Quills School protest 1970 1960



“is how we engage the Indigenous community itself” in delivering the material. Gough, who is viceprincipal academic and dean at U of T Scarborough, says efforts must be made to hire educators who have deep knowledge but face systemic barriers to getting degrees. (According to a 2016 report by the C.D. Howe Institute, only four out of 10 Indigenous people living on reserves graduate from high school.) Similar approaches are already being made, says Gough. The University hires “individuals who don’t have PhDs but have accreditation within their own communities ... people who can teach tax law [or] environmental law who don’t have PhDs ... and creative individuals, artists.” Gough would also like to offer faculty members “Indigenous leave,” where they could develop a relationship with Indigenous communities and bring back previously excluded knowledge and alternative forms of teaching. Then there’s the curriculum itself. The steering committee decided against a simple Indigenous history requirement for all students, fearing that would tokenize the topic. Instead, it called for the integration of Indigenous voices into courses from sociology to environmental science to literature, and a proposed new course, “The Sociology of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.” Gough struck a working group last fall to outline the new mandate. “I’m really heartened by the tremendous interest,” he says. “By faculty stepping up.” Transforming the largest post-secondary institution in Canada will mean working with existing teaching practices and finding innovative solutions. One example of the latter is the campus’s partnership with First Story Toronto, a group that documents and shares

Toronto’s Indigenous history via walking tours. First Story is working on a project to develop an Indigenous storytelling walk on and around the Scarborough campus. How do you unearth the history of people whose existence has been deliberately erased? One of First Story Toronto’s founders, Jon Johnson, says while untrained eyes may not find many overt expressions of Indigenous heritage in the city, it isn’t hard to pick up threads of Indigenous stories once you start to know the land and its history. He learns from the Indigenous guides he works with at First Story such as Philip Cote, John Croutch, Jill Carter and others, and shares stories he’s learned from his own research. “The tours aren’t a monologue with one person expounding. It’s more like a conversation,” Johnson explains. “One person will say something and allow another person to recall something.” Just look at Taber Hill, the Wendat burial mound at the intersection of Lawrence Avenue and Bellamy Road in Scarborough. Without a noticeable sign, plaque or other marker, it was almost destroyed in 1956 when a power shovel aiming to remove the 18-metre hill uncovered human bones.

The Taber Hill burial mound was uncovered in 1956. The remains were reconsecrated in a modern-day feast of souls.

Oka Crisis protests 1990 1980

“They dug them up, studied them and reconsecrated the remains in a modern-day feast of souls,” says Johnson. “About 500 individuals are estimated to be in that mound. It’s a very visible reminder of Indigenous presence. Even though there was a vast campaign to eradicate Indigenous stories, they’re still in the land.” Diane Hill believes educators must do more than add Indigenous content—they must explore noncolonial forms of pedagogy. Indigenous people have their own long-standing ways of passing knowledge on to their communities. She points to a geography course that Cat Criger assists with. “He takes students out, so they can have a meaningful connection to the land. They sit in a circle, and everyone can see everyone. Everyone’s heads are the same height. Everyone’s words have the same weight.” Equally important is the need to increase Indigenous recruitment. Hill says fewer than 50 students on campus identify as Indigenous. Principal Kidd says many don’t identify themselves or take advantage of resources—and that’s a problem. “If we create the program and structures, the students will come,” Hill says. Outreach should begin before they arrive at university.


The RCAP is established 1991

Nora Bernard files lawsuit 1995

Diane Hill holds her own TEDxUTSC talk 2016 2000


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The steering committee recommended that the campus hire an Indigenous outreach co-ordinator to build new relationships with First Nations and Métis communities and urban Indigenous groups. Hill says on-campus mentors and elders are also crucial. Cat Criger is shared with other U of T campuses, and is in Scarborough only two days a week. William Gough would like to have elders more accessible, and to find a female elder as well. “We need to build trust,” says Hill. “Among Indigenous youth, there is a general mistrust of all institutions. When I go to a program and I see someone who looks and talks like me, it builds that trust.” Finally, there is what Bruce Kidd calls “the dream.” The steering committee recommended that the campus begin planning for the creation of a “dedicated, appropriate Indigenous space” at U of T Scarborough. While serving the whole campus community, such a space would be a beacon of safety and visibility for Indigenous faculty and students and a cultural centre for the neighbouring Indigenous communities. Kidd says the administration has decided that the centre should be a prominently located free-standing building, has identified a site and begun the necessary consultation, planning and fundraising. U of T Scarborough has also prioritized other reconciliationrelated goals. In the months ahead,

Kidd says, UTSC will launch a number of curriculum renewal projects dealing with Indigenous issues, and hire additional Indigenous faculty and staff for outreach and student support. The question of how to “indigenize” post-secondary education is complex. What does it mean to indigenize history? Should we focus on teaching about the past? Or is it the university’s responsibility to try to correct the mistakes of history and address the legacy of cultural genocide? The TRC did not specify the precise nature of reconciliation, but it did call for the types of conversation and consultation that are happening on campus right now, involving and often spearheaded by Indigenous people. Answering the TRC’s calls to action is as much about implementing inclusive and responsive processes as it is about the end product. And it’s a matter of changing the conversation— honouring Indigenous people, history and experience. “I think indigenizing is a word that gets thrown around a lot,” says Diane Hill, who nearly gave up on U of  T Scarborough but stayed on and helped to guide change. “It’s not necessarily ‘indigenizing,’ but ‘decolonizing’ the university world,” she says. “I would like to see Indigenous peoples represented in an accurate way that reflects Canada’s colonial history. And that we are not all dead and gone. Our people are very much here and thriving.”


Journalist Alexandra Shimo is the author of Invisible North: The Search for Answers on a Troubled Reserve, which was a Globe and Mail best book for 2016; and co-author, with Edmund Metatawabin, of Up Ghost River: A Chief’s Journey Through the Turbulent Waters of Native History—a Globe and Mail bestseller, finalist for the Governor General’s Award for Non-fiction, and winner of the Speaker’s Book Award and CBC Bookie Award. She teaches creative non-fiction at U of T. Sarah Barmak is a Toronto freelance journalist and author. Her writing has appeared in publications such as Maclean’s, Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, The Walrus, Chatelaine, VICE and Canadian Business. Her first book, Closer: Notes from the Orgasmic Frontier of Female Sexuality, was published last year by Coach House Press. Meryl McMaster is an Ottawabased artist and holds a BFA in Photography from OCAD University. McMaster is interested in using portraiture and self-portraiture to explore questions of how we construct our sense of self through lineage, history and culture. Her practice extends beyond straight photo­ graphy by incorporating the meticulous production of props or sculptural garments, improvisational performance and quiet self-reflection. McMaster’s work has been included in exhibitions throughout Canada and the United States. Last fall, the Doris McCarthy Gallery presented “Confluence,” an exhibition of McMaster’s photography.

Indigenous people fight every day against the injustices placed upon their people and continuously try to foster and nurture how their culture once flourished.


UTSC Commons | Spring 2017


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CAMPUS NEWS Ravi Gukathasan’s $2 million gift provides a boost for Tamil Studies at UTSC.


One of U of T Scarborough’s first Tamil alumni has given UTSC a historic donation of $2 million to support Tamil studies. The gift from Ravi Gukathasan (U of T PhD, 1987; UTSC BSc, 1982), who is CEO of Digital Specialty Chemicals Ltd. in Scarborough, is the largest single cash gift from an alumnus in UTSC’s 51-year history. It will fund an annual post-doctoral fellowship in Tamil studies as well as scholarships, event programming and digital archiving. “I want UTSC to be a star when it comes to the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora, its culture, its language, its perspective in the world,” says Gukathasan. “We have the biggest Tamil diaspora in the world in Scarborough. They need to be proud.” He also sees his gift as a leadership 28

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example for other members of the Tamil community to follow. “I think $2 million is a very good nucleus to begin from,” he says. The 10-year commitment will fund the $1.25 million Ethan and Leah Schweitzer Gukathasan Fellowship, named for Gukathasan’s two teenage children, as well as provide $500,000 for a programming fund, $150,000 for a digital fund, and $100,000 for scholarships, all in the children’s names as well. “The gift will add hugely to our ability to expose our campus to what’s going on in Tamil worlds,” says Bhavani Raman, associate professor in the Department of Historical and Cultural Studies and chair of the tri-campus Tamil Worlds Initiative programming

committee. “We will be able to support young and upcoming scholars from all over the world with the postdoctoral fellowship, as well as other visitors.” She notes that a previous substantial gift from Gukathasan has already allowed UTSC to sponsor a Tamil Studies Conference, hold regular public programming on Tamil subjects and work with the UTSC Library to enhance its Tamil-language collection. She expects to be able to greatly expand such initiatives, including the digitization of Sri Lankan Tamil works for global access. Gukathasan sees his gift as just the start. “I’m hoping others will follow suit with more money,” he says. “I hope we can keep building this program and make it very, very well funded and well rounded.”



Professor Maydianne Andrade, a renowned scientist known for her research on spiders, is the new Vice-Dean of Faculty Affairs and Equity. “I will be helping with the mechanistic aspects of faculty hiring and promotion,” says Andrade. “This will include overseeing procedural aspects of faculty searches, appointments, tenure and promotion, but also providing tools that will help with these processes.” Her plan is to take a data-driven approach to figuring out ways U of T Scarborough can do a better job in hiring, developing and promoting its faculty while also ensuring these processes maximize transparency and minimize the unintended effects of unconscious bias. The role also supports the campus’s aspiration to increase the diversity of people working here, and making sure there’s a climate that they are happy to work in and where they will flourish. “I truly believe we’re a community that is more interested in meeting and talking out differences rather than fighting,” says Andrade. “I think UTSC can make positive changes, and not just these end points, but the process in getting there can be positive as well.”

Maydianne Andrade, right, hopes to help make positive differences at U of T Scarborough.


Three talented Creative Writing students at U of T

Scarborough are winners of the International Festival of Authors’ inaugural Lit Jam—a timed, improvisational competition that matches storytelling teams against each other. “Lit Jam is like the Chopped cooking competition on TV,” says Trevon Smith, a fourth-year student in UTSC’s journalism program. “We’re given ingredients on the spot and then tasked with making something out of them.” UTSC’s team, which competed against the University of Guelph, Ryerson University, and the Humber School of Creative and Performing Arts, consisted of Smith and fellow students Janet Monk and Cassandra MacDonald. The competition was judged by a panel of published authors. Established three years ago, the Creative Writing program at U of T Scarborough, which is unique for being the only one at U of T that allows students to earn a minor in creative writing, currently has 50 students. Assistant Professor Andrew Westoll, teaching stream, from the Department of English at UTSC says he’s proud of the team, each of them minoring in creative writing, and their effort reflects the talent coming out of the program. In addition to winning $1,500, their story was also featured in NOW magazine. “The real prize is getting published and getting our names out there,” says Monk, a third-year major in Music and Culture. “The whole thing is absolutely mind-blowing.” UTSC Commons | Spring 2017




Brian Connelly is fascinated by the role

personality plays in the modern workplace, and that work has been recognized for its importance and influence. Connelly, an associate professor in the Department of Management, was awarded the Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Integrative Perspectives on Personality, and is one of three new CRCs named at U of T Scarborough. “It’s incredibly humbling,” says Connelly, who becomes the department’s first CRC. “Knowing the quality of researchers who have received this award… it’s an immense honour to have my name listed among them.” Connelly is looking at ways to 30

UTSC Commons | Spring 2017

create more accurate, data-driven personality tests to better weed out bias and fakery that end up costing companies millions of dollars in retention and hiring costs every year. “I’m excited by the opportunity to highlight the importance of personality in the workplace and in influencing one’s life course more generally.” Joining Connelly is Assistant Professor Bebhinn Treanor from the Department of Biological Sciences, who is awarded a Canada Research Chair in Spatially-Resolved Biochemistry and Associate Professor Kagan Kerman from the Department of Physical & Environmental Science is awarded a Canada Research Chair in Bioelectrochemistry.

A new lecture series welcomes local residents to hear from some of the campus’s most renowned thinkers. Building on U of T Scarborough’s history of community engagement, the series, Great Explorations, offers an intellectually enriching experience that explores critical issues in the world today. The four-part Spring 2017 program, aligning with Canada’s sesquicentennial, focuses on contemporary Canadian perspectives in health and in politics. The series launched with a talk on the emerging field of health research that is demonstrating how humanities and arts-based learning can help healthcare professionals become better practitioners. Speakers for the spring program include prominent faculty members Professor Andrea Charise, the lead developer of Canada’s first undergraduate curriculum in Health Humanities and a winner of the Polanyi Prize for Literature; Professor Anne-Emanuelle Birn, recognized among the top 100 Women Leaders in Global Health; Professor Grace Skogstad, a specialist in Canadian federalism; and Professor Christopher Cochrane, author of Left and Right: The Small World of Political Ideas and a sought-after expert by Canadian media.

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SPOTLIGHT Suganya saves the day

Suganya Tharmalingam knows how to set goals. When Tharmalingam, the youngest in her family, was in first year at U of T Scarborough, her mother asked her to join the family in a move to Ottawa. “I told her, ‘I can’t do that because I’m working on my brand. This is U of T and it’s what I wanted. I’m going to get my degree here.’” And that’s exactly what she did. Next, Tharmalingam moved to Chicago for a job at Deerfield Capital Management, LLC. She studied to earn a CPA designation—and worked her way up to vice president. “l learned a lot about hedge funds, CDOs and unique investment strategies, mergers and acquisitions.” 32

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Suganya Tharmalingam BCom, 2001 Tharmalingam got married, moved back to Toronto and took a maternity-leave replacement job as senior analyst at Kensington Capital Partners. The company was growing, just getting into private equity and venture funds, and so she stayed. The partners put her on a team working on mergers and acquisitions. Then a crazy thing happened. Tharmalingam was on maternity leave with her second child. A week after the birth, she got a call asking if she could resume work. There was a “situation:” the vice president of

finance and the controller had both quit, and team members were jumping ship. And it was April, in the middle of tax and audit. “What could I say?” She said yes. She worked from home and pulled it off—hiring people, restructuring the team and working through the tax and audit. And now? With Tharmalingam as managing director and CFO, the company manages more than a billion dollars in assets. “Things are going well,” she says. “I took a risk, challenging myself and coming way out of my comfort zone.”



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When Alex Adamo (BA, 2013) was at U of T Scarborough, he was all set to become a teacher. He volunteered in a classroom, marking and helping to prep lessons—and didn’t like it one bit. At the same time, he started working with the athletics director at the university. “I thought, ‘Yep, this is what I want to do.’” “I’m a sports guy,” says Adamo. “I was either playing sports, watching sports or talking sports.” Today, Adamo is an account executive with Toronto FC II, the minor league soccer affiliate of Toronto FC. He says UTSC helped him get set up for what he’s doing. How? “From getting involved with the athletic association, to having friends in the athletic

department, to playing intramural soccer every season. “UTSC is a small community. It’s so easy to access everyone,” says Adamo. And he’s found the same attitude at Toronto FC II. “They’re helping me plan for my future, and they mean it; it’s not just something they say.”

1 Alex Adamo 2 Christa Studzinski

Ontario Brain Institute, which brings together researchers, clinicians, industry partners and patients. Five years later, she’s their manager of research programs. “The neuroscience research that’s happening in Ontario is phenomenal,” Studzinski says. In one initiative, clinicians and a start-up company are collaborating to develop a robot that helps children in rehab learn to walk again. Studzinski describes an email she received: “For the first time ever, a teenager was able to give her mother a hug standing up. “Whatever I end up doing, I want to foster meaningful partnerships to enable research and innovation in Canada,” she says. 2

Christa Studzinski (BSc, 2002) is a

go-getter. After her undergraduate degree, she earned a PhD in pharmacology, worked at a start-up company and completed two postdoctoral fellowships. “I’m a bit of a jack of all trades,” she jokes. Returning to Toronto, Studzinski interned at the newly opened UTSC Commons | Spring 2017










With years of experience in accounting, finance and investment management, Andy Wai Kwan Li (BCom, 1995), is well known in his field. Li, who is CFO of Zhuhai Da Heng Qin holding company, credits his experiential learning at U of T Scarborough. “I was enrolled in the Co-op program in my first year,” he says, “and it provided an excellent bridge between school life and the real commercial world. This better prepared me for my career selection.” What’s more, he met his wife at UTSC. “She’s an alumna,” he says. And his brother, niece and nephew also graduated from the university. “So my whole family benefited from an education there.” Now living in Hong Kong, Li frequently travels to China, and back to Canada to visit his parents, who live a 10-minute drive from the UTSC campus. “So I visit the university every time I return.” 34

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The Honourable Bryon Wilfert (BA, 1976) was always interested in politics. In a political career that spanned 26 years, he was best known as an MP for Richmond Hill. “I always understood the importance of public service,” he says. “I’d run again in a heartbeat, but now there are other avenues to explore. I enjoy the diplomatic world and speaking engagements—and Asia has always been my first love.” Wilfert is now Honorary Consul for the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. “I’m not the kind of person that’s going to retire. I don’t know

3 Andy Wai Kwan Li 4 Bryon Wilfert

how to spell the word,” he says. “I have to be busy.” The recipient of an Arbor Award from U of T Scarborough for his volunteer activities, Wilfert has supported the university by mentoring students, serving as an advisor for Asian partnerships, and now as a member of the Alumni College of Electors. What is he most proud of? “I was elected to the highest office and held a seat in the House of Commons— what an honour and a privilege.”




U of T Scarborough April 28, 2017

U of T Scarborough June 3-4, 2017

Join successful UTSC alumni, faculty, entrepreneurs and industry professionals who will share their career paths and stories of success, challenges, and failures in the ever changing world around them. It is a day-long series of workshops and panel discussions designed to promote dialogue and information-sharing among speakers and panelists who are leaders from various platforms.

Rediscover your alma mater! Sit in on a talk from a favourite professor at our Classes Without Quizzes, mingle with fellow alumni, take a campus tour, and enjoy some delicious food at our Principal’s Cookout. Open to family and friends. Register here:

Register here:

If you have any questions about these events or other opportunities, please contact us at or call 416.287.5631. You can also visit us online at


The kitchen also supports a minor in

Food Studies, the first such program in this country.

U of T Scarborough has the only kitchen classroom in any Canadian university—and one of very few in the world. Located in the Science Wing, it holds up to 40 cooks at a time.

Chefs have come from around the world to prepare dishes

that highlight key topics in food studies, food security and traditions.

Students get to cook in class! They cook historical recipes and other dishes that can help them understand social, cultural and political issues. Some of the students are in UTSC’s Intro to Food course, which, since the kitchen opened, has seen enrolment jump to 130.


UTSC Commons | Spring 2017

As we said in our last issue, Scarborough is the (unofficial) Food Capital of the World. “We want to connect key questions in understanding culture and society to the everyday experiences of our students,” says Professor Daniel Bender of Historical and Cultural Studies.

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UTSC Commons Spring 2017  
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