From Pulse to Pittsburgh

 

Can what we learned after Pulse help us support our Jewish friends after Pittsburgh?

During the early morning hours of June 12, 2016, a gunman entered the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Over a span of nearly four hours, the shooter terrorized approximately 320 predominantly queer Latinx patrons of the club. In the end, 49 people were killed. At the time, it was the largest civilian mass shooting in the history of the United States. Just six months later, Canada experienced a shooting in Quebec, when six men were murdered during the evening prayer services at a mosque in Quebec City. Most recently, on the morning of October 27, 2018, an armed man entered the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA and murdered 11 individuals, ranging in age from 54 to 97. They have been described as the very best of their community, the individuals who were always at services early, always the last to leave, and who dedicated their lives to making the lives of others in their community better. Much has been written about who each of these 11 people were, and I encourage you to read about their lives and to remember their names. 

While all mass shootings are tragic and heartbreaking, there is something different about these three shootings that ties them together. They were all borne out of hate and prejudice, and they all targeted a very specific community. Pulse targeted the LGBTQ+ community, the shooting in Quebec targeted Muslims, and the Pittsburgh shooting targeted Jews. The Pittsburgh shooter entered the Synagogue proclaiming that “All Jews Must Die” and later, when being treated for the gunshot wounds he sustained from the police, he continued to hurl anti-Semitic slurs at the Jewish doctor attempting to save his life. 

The day after the Pulse shooting Dr. Rhea Hoskin and I filed an ethics amendment for one of our ongoing studies so that we could collect the responses of LGBTQ+ people from around the world as they reacted to the news of the shooting. Hundreds of people answered our survey, from all around the world, and I hope that what we learned from their grief can help us be better friends, family and neighbours to the Jewish communities currently reacting to Pittsburgh. 

Perhaps the story of 49 queers dancing at a gay bar doesn’t quite seem the same as 11 senior citizens preparing for Shabbat services; so let me tell you a little bit more about how the contrast here is only surface deep. Synagogues, mosques, and churches are considered sanctuaries: places of refuge and safety. Yet, historically, many houses of worship have rejected their LGBTQ+ members, making the traditional sanctuaries inaccessible. As a result, gay bars became the sanctuaries of the queer community. Gay bars were where people went to seek refuge from a hostile and homophobic world. They were the places where it was safe to hold your partner’s hand and where two women or two men could dance together on the dance floor and see their reflection in everyone else around them. Gay bars were where people went when they were kicked out of their homes by their parents, and when their religious leaders called them sinners. Thus, Pulse was every bit as much of a sanctuary for the queer Latinx community of Orlando as the Tree of Life Synagogue was for the Jewish community of Squirrel Hill. In other words, both of these shootings took place within sanctuaries where people sought refuge from the world, where they felt safe, and where they came together with their community to celebrate life, mourn the loss of life, and - at the most basic level - connect with humanity. 

This notion, of having one’s place of refuge violated and turned into place of hate-fuelled murder, was one of the most common themes that the respondents in our Pulse survey mentioned. They reported feeling as though the loss was theirs, that it was personal, and that it could have just as easily been them. Many spoke of having lost ‘brothers and sisters,’ a phrase that has been commonly used by those responding to the Pittsburgh shooting as well. More than 84% of our Pulse respondents described the shooting as having an impact on how safe they felt as an LGBTQ+ person, even if they lived thousands of miles away. Jewish people around the world are now feeling the same way. They may have been at Shabbat services themselves at the very moment that this shooting took place. Their sense of being safe in the world has been shaken, and while many have already been feeling increasingly unsafe due to rising anti-Semitism, they now feel it with a level of certainty that they cannot ignore. 

Some respondents to the Pulse survey were perplexed by their grief, wondering why they were having such a strong reaction to an event that technically did not involve them personally. Some went so far as to question whether they had the right to feel the grief that they felt, as though they were somehow trespassing on the grief of those who lost a loved one. Others spoke of how the event ‘burst their bubble’ or made them realize that they could be killed just for being who they are, or loving who they love. For many younger participants, the shooting was the first time that they really experienced this kind of connection between homophobia and their own potential mortality. On the other hand, older participants experienced the shooting as a reminder of past violence and a warning that they cannot become complacent. I can only imagine that similar differences may be occurring between the older and younger generations of the Jewish community, with the young perhaps naively coming face-to-face with the fatal cost of anti-Semitism for the first time and the older individuals being far too painfully aware of the long history of Jewish persecution and murder.  

After Pulse, vigils were held all over the world, just as they are being held now for the Pittsburgh victims. In the days and weeks following the Pulse shooting, many LGBTQ+ individuals expressed a desire to surround themselves with others from the LGBTQ+ community. Often this desire was linked to feeling that their non-LGBTQ+ friends and family failed to understand the personal meaning and impact of the shooting. To those outside the LGBTQ+ community, Pulse was just another shooting, special perhaps only because, for a short duration in time, it was the largest shooting. The disconnect between how LGBTQ+ people felt and how their friends and family saw it as ‘just another shooting’ seemed to exacerbate respondents’ grief and feelings of isolation. I think these sentiments should give us the greatest pause and also guide us in how we respond to Pittsburgh. 

Mass shootings have become far too commonplace, such that they are just background noise in the daily news cycle. No one can fully digest all of them or fully ‘feel’ all of them, but when a shooting targets a specific community, a minority community, we must take note and we must reach out. LGBTQ+ people all over the world felt alone and in danger after Pulse. They felt like the world moved on and they were hurt by the failure to acknowledge the role that homophobia unquestionably played in murdering 49 LGBTQ+ individuals. Our Jewish friends and family are feeling this way now. While they continue to grieve and feel unsafe, they are watching others move on to the next topic, or they are listening to the media debate whether it was ‘really’ an attack on Jews or if, perhaps, it was an attack on all religions, or an attack on America and an ‘American-way of life’. It was not. It was an attack on Jews, Jewish Faith, Jewish Culture, and specifically, the Jewish tradition of welcoming and safeguarding refugees. The drive to explain the motives behind this shooting in an overly inclusive way (i.e., it was an attack on all of us/all religions) diminishes the reality of anti-Semitism in today’s society, and in our very own backyards. More importantly, it needlessly adds to the grief and suffering of those within the targeted community.

When we live in a society that constantly excludes others and draws rigid boundaries between “us” and “them” over the smallest of social identities, we cannot just erase those lines when tragedy hits and pretend like those lines weren’t the catalyst for the tragedy in the first place. Thus, while people’s intentions may be well meaning when they say, “this was an attack on all of us,” we cannot claim victims as “us” when we did not fully claim them as such while they were living. As one participant after Pulse put it: “Never before had the queers been considered so American until the moment that 49 of them were dead.”

Pulse, Quebec, and Pittsburgh, while not identical, are all connected through the shared feelings of immeasurable loss and those feelings are stronger among the members of the affected communities, no matter how far away they may actually have been from the event. These feelings are only exacerbated when others fail to acknowledge the gravity of the situation and the specific prejudices implicated in each (i.e., Homophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism). 

We must acknowledge the toll that these prejudices take within our society and do all that we can to eradicate them. It may seem like a daunting task that is too big for any one person, but I’d like to challenge each member of this campus to take a step in the right direction. Over the next week, make a list of how you categorize others in the world. Who is on your “us” list and who is on your “them” list and then ask yourself why?* Even if it seems harmless, question if a certain category on your “them” list is worth having there if, ultimately, having them there keeps you in the habit of dividing the world by us and them rather than finding points of agreement and common ground. Challenge yourself to re-organize those lists so that your “us” list gets longer, and your “them” list begins to shrink. Don’t rejig the list after tragedy strikes, do it beforehand so you can be a part of preventing these tragedies from happening.

*If you are having trouble starting the list, often the identities that are important to us end up defining the ‘us’ list (your university, major, nationality, sexual identity, gender, residence, city/sports team, political party, or favourite pizza parlour – Kenny’s vs. the Wheel!). Make a list of your most important personal identities and then ask yourself how much you consider the opposite of each of those identities to be part of your ‘ingroup’ or ‘us’ and how much you think of people in those opposite categories as members of an outgroup, or ‘them.’

The following list names 66 individuals who were killed in the three shootings mentioned in this article. May their memories be a blessing.

Pulse Quebec Mosque

Stanley Almodovar III (23) Ibrahima Barry (39)

Amanda Alvear (25) Mamadou Tanou Barry (42)

Oscar A Arcena-Montero (26) Khaled Belkacemi (60)

Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala (33) Aboubaker Thabti (44)

Antonio Davon Brown (29) Abdelkrim Hassane (41)

Angel L. Candelario-Padro (28) Azzedine Soufiane (57)

Juan Chevez-Martinez (25)

Luis Daniel Conde (39) Pittsburgh Synagogue

Cory James Connell (21) Bernice Simon (84)

Tevin Eugene Crosby (25) Sylvan Simon (86)

Denoka Deidra Drayton (32) Melvin Wax (88)

Alejandro Barrios Martinez (21) Daniel Stein (71)

Brenda Lee Marquez McCool (49) Irving Younger (69)

Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez (25) Rose Mallinger (97)

Kimberly Morris (37) Jerry Rabinowitz (66)

Akyra Monet Murray (18) Joyce Fienberg (75)

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo (20) Richard Gottfried (65)

Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez (25) Cecil Rosenthal (59)

Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera (36) David Rosenthal (54)

Joel Rayon Paniagua (32)

Jean Carlos Mendez Perez (35)

Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez (31)

Leroy Valentin Fernandez (25)

Mercedez Marisol Flores (26)

Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz (22)

Juan Ramon Guerrero (22)

Paul Terrell Henry (41)

Frank Hernandez (27)

Miguel Angel Honorato (30)

Javier Jorge-Reyes (40)

Jason Benjamin Josaphat (19)

Eddie Jamoldroy Justice (30)

Anthony Luis Laureanodisla (25)

Christopher Andrew Leinonen (32)

Enrique L. Rios, Jr. (25)

Jean C. Nives Rodriguez (27)

Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado (35)

Chrisopher Joseph Sanfeliz (24)

Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan (24)

Edward Sotomayor, Jr. (34)

Shane Evan Tomlinson (33)

Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega (24)

Juan P. Rivera Velazquez (37)

Luis S. Vielma (22)

Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez (50)

Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon (37)

Jerald Arthur Wright (31)

 
 

Marijuana Packaging Sparks Outrage

 

Customers disappointed in overuse of plastic

In the nearly one month since prohibition ended across Canada, long-term users and curious first-timers alike have been taking advantage of the opportunity to head into their local cannabis distributor and snap up the leafy green buds by the handful. Stores across Canada have reported shortages, with some provincial distributors having to shut down three days a week to manage supply and demand – a situation which plagued Québec recently. While it is not hard to see why Canadians by the crowd are keen to try the newly legal substance, many Canadians are balking at something completely unexpected – the packaging.

 
 
 Caleb MacIsaac

Caleb MacIsaac

Unlike the packaging debacles surrounding cigarettes of the 90s and early 2000s, the packaging issues related to marijuana isn’t one laden with bleeding hearts, cataracts, or wheelchair bound smokers. Instead, the problem lies in sheer amount of packaging. In purchasing a single gram of marijuana from the NSLC, a customer can expect the packaging to weigh many multiples of the product itself - clocking in at 22.7 grams of plastic. For the 3.5-gram choice, the package weighs a hefty 34.0 grams; a slightly more appropriate weight to weight ratio, if only slightly. The containers for the marijuana do not label volume, but it visually clear they are significantly larger than they need to be. The size of the packaging may not have been such an oddity, had it not been for the fact that marijuana users have, for decades, used more quantity-appropriate packaging.

Each brand version of marijuana comes in as small a quantity as one gram. If a customer purchases five grams across five different brands, each one comes in its own 22.7-gram plastic container. For five different brands of one-gram amounts of marijuana, a buyer can expect to bring home 114 grams of plastic. At a time when people are becoming more aware of the amount of plastic that ends up as pollution in the environment, the oceans, and even our bodies, this seems like a deep miscalculation attributable to federal packaging mandates, and producers of marijuana. Due to the secure nature of marijuana sales, the relatively large plastic containers cannot be used like a jam jar at a bulk food store or a reusable coffee cup – they must be thrown out or recycled. 

Given that the legal sale of marijuana is still in infancy stages, it may very well be that the packaging will improve over time. Understandably, some critics may contend that the large size and safety lids are a necessary measure to prevent children from accessing marijuana. Indeed, the federal government has mandated all packing be “child-proof.” In comparison, pill-containers, which come in much smaller sizes, are just as effective (if not more so) at keeping pills out of the hands of children, and there is no discernible reason the same container could not be reused for marijuana. 

Hopefully, the amount of plastic in containers will decrease to a reasonable point. Another viable option may be for distributors to incorporate some kind of container that can be reused or repurposed. In the end, the reasoning behind producers’ rejection of pill container-like vessels will probably never be known. Until such a time that the packaging is reconsidered, customers will have to endure their 22.7 grams of plastic with every single-serve gram of marijuana.

 
 

Cyber-attack Harnesses StFX Network Power

 

Bitcoin business temporarily shuts down StFX services

StFX services such as Wi-Fi, Moodle, MesAmis, printing and student email accounts were down for the count starting the morning of November 1. These services and others gradually returned on Sunday following a 4-day hiatus. 

The university’s Facebook @stfxuniversity posted on November 2 that the “IT Services Team worked through the night making progress testing and analyzing the 150 servers within our network.” Each server is being evaluated rebooted after a thorough assessment that accounts for the time-consuming process. 

Kendra MacDonald, a Service & Support Administrator of IT Services notes the cause of this issue to be an organization harnessing power from the school’s network to mine bitcoin. 

MacDonald assured The Xaverian Weekly that the person, or people, doing ‘cryptocoin mining.’  behind this operation on StFX’s high-powered network did not access personal information from students’ accounts. 

StFX News details the act of ‘mining’ as “The malicious software attempted to utilize StFX’s collective computing power in order to create or discover bitcoin for monetary gain.”

Xaverian News Editor Evan Davison-Kotler worked in the corporate finance industry this past summer as a blockchain consultant. He expands on StFX’s announcement, “There’s essentially a set number of bitcoins that have can ever come into circulation. Mining is simply the process of releasing a new bitcoin into circulation. It’s a competition between lots of people on the network to solve a really hard cryptographic problem using computational power. The function of mining is essentially two-fold – it creates a resource-based method of obtaining Bitcoin, putting a bottleneck on the supply and a cost (power) associated with the procurement of the currency. The second element is security – the more individuals attempting to release a coin into circulation, the more secure the bitcoin network becomes; this is through really impressive and complex cryptography. The more bitcoins in circulation, the higher the mining difficulty for the next bitcoin, meaning the more power necessary to mine. In theory, increased power demands match increased price of bitcoin, meaning there is always a monetary incentive to expend the power necessary to release a new coin into circulation. We can obviously see the issue with this, where bad actors could attempt to infiltrate and repurpose existing servers and processors that they do not own, re-routing them to expend processing power on bitcoin mining.”  

Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency created by Satoshi Nakamoto. The idea for the cryptocurrency was first posted by Nakamoto in “Bitcoin P2P e-cash paper” dated November 1, 2008. 

The paper by Nakamoto, originally published in full on bitcoin.org, is the first trace of Nakamoto’s mysterious identity. To this day, documentaries and other sources speculate on whether Nakamoto is an individual or a group of people.  

An article titled “What is Bitcoin?” posted on the University of Toronto website March 17, 2014 defines in some detail what is Bitcoin and how it works. Jenny Hall interviews Yuri Takhteyev who was a status-only professor in the Faculty of Information about cryptocurrency. Takhteyev concludes that, “cryptocurrencies are probably here to stay.” 

Takhteyev correctly predicted the evolution of “cryptocurrencies” from the underground black-market into mainstream. The University of Toronto added three new courses this year. Portfolio Management Praxis Under Real Market Constraints, Blockchain Technologies and Cryptocurrencies, and Inventrepreneurship: Invention + Entrepreneurship are now courses taught to graduate students in the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering.

The objective of Blockchain Technologies and Cryptocurrencies as an academic course of study is described by the University of Toronto in the U of T News, “This course will provide students with the concepts and mechanics of the blockchain technologies starting with Bitcoin, allowing them to identify business-relevant benchmarking criteria for blockchain technologies in accordance with their current and future impact on business processes.” 

Cryptocurrency has come a long way since Bitcoin was introduced ten years ago by Nakamoto. The study of blockchain technology by international universities in Qatar, Stanford, and Edinburgh validate Nakamoto’s global influence at the post-secondary education level.

The recent cyber-attack on StFX’s network is a reminder for our readers to remain critical and inform themselves before investing in cryptocurrency.

Enterprise systems professor David Mattie, who has over twenty years of experience in the IT services industry commented on the breach, “All it takes is one guy penetrating one server, out of our 500, to have all of StFXs data compromised. We spend the same amount of money as the University of Toronto does in our IT department, but we are always susceptible to being hacked. It does not matter how much money you spend on IT, you will never be able to be 100% secure unfortunately.”

StFX continues to investigate the matter and have yet to identify the culprit responsible for the cyber- attack.

 
 

WUSC & StFX for SAFE on Refugee Awareness Day

 

Partnered organizations hope to shed light on worldwide refugee crisis

WUSC StFX and StFX for SAFE have partnered with the Students’ Union and Office of the President to host a StFX Refugee Awareness Day on November 20th. The event aims to shed light on the scope of the global crisis and the struggle of living day-to-day as a refugee. We are also celebrating the refugee resettlement efforts taking place in Antigonish and at StFX over the years. On November 20th, a mock ‘refugee camp tent’ will be set up in the Xavier Gardens courtyard to highlight the tenuous living conditions of refugees worldwide. Lectures, film, and activities will take place in or near the tent. The evening event, called Salam Neighbor - Hello Neighbour, tells the story of the Al Hariri family coming to Antigonish. The Al Hariri family was sponsored by SAFE using the money raised by StFX for SAFE in the first year of the campaign. We will meet Mr. Al Hariri whose family lived in the Za’atari Camp in Jordan for six years prior to arriving in Antigonish this summer, thanks to the many efforts of many, many volunteers.

Both societies contribute to the resettlement of refugees in different ways. StFX WUSC has existed for over 30 years. It is one of several programs offered by the national World University Service of Canada (WUSC). At our university, the Society sponsors a refugee and when the individual arrives in Canada, the WUSC program covers their first year of study at the university. WUSC’s operations at StFX are funded by a multi-partner system: each year, students pay a $4.00 annual contribution. The funding allows the StFX WUSC Student Refugee Program (SRP) to sponsor the student’s cost of coming to Canada and the student’s first year in Canada. The university contribution includes the waiving tuition, residence costs and dining hall fees for the WUSC students’ first year of study. While the university’s support certainly offsets a significant proportion of the costs incurred by WUSC-sponsored students, expenses such as summertime living, travel, textbooks, and technology are all expense covered by the WUSC fund. WUSC’s support also extends beyond financing, as they are responsible for the overall well-being of the sponsored student. In a video promoting the society, StFX graduate Sierra Bergman described the society’s role:

 wusc.ca

wusc.ca

“During the students’ first year at StFX, our WUSC society is entirely responsible for the welcome and well-being of the student. We select the student, register them for classes, pick them up from the airport, provide them with bedding, winter coats, and all of the necessities related to school.” 

In the same video, student Stephanie MacAulay elaborated, “we provide financial and emotional support for students throughout their first year, and continue to serve as a resource for them throughout their four years at X.”

Farhiyo Salah is one of WUSC’s sponsored students, and a supporter of the SRP program. In describing the impact that WUSC has had on her, she said, “The SRP program changed my life in many ways. Since I was young, I had dreamed to do a degree and become a nurse. It’s kind of a light that shined on my future, and in my life.”

While the fund has been instrumental in ensuring the WUSC students’ success, the dated funding model is lacking, as it has not kept pace with rising costs. When established, the $4.00 contribution had buying power of approximately $5.50 today. While inflation has kept ticking forwards, the student contribution remains frozen in time, leading to a progressive reduction in WUSC’s capacity to support refugee students. Last year, the society held a referendum to increase the student contribution from $4.00 to $6.00 - this would have provided an additional $8,000 in funds for WUSC. Unfortunately, though the referendum was supported, it failed to meet quorum (low voter turnout) and did not pass. In spite of the defeat, WUSC has continued to provide their crucial support to refugee students, and a second referendum is being planned.

StFX for SAFE was created in response to the ongoing crisis in Syria. In May of 2015, Syria-Antigonish Families Embrace (SAFE) was established as a private sponsorship group. Their mission was simple: gather funds and community support, with the hopes of eventually resettling a Syrian refugee family in Antigonish. The response was nothing short of incredible. The town, steeped in a tradition of humanitarian response dating back to the days of Moses Coady, was instantly galvanized. Fundraising events and awareness campaigns began occurring on a weekly basis, organized by individuals of all backgrounds, levels of education and professions. In speaking with SAFE members, they describe it as beyond anything they could have ever imagined. 

Within StFX, the community was eager to directly participate in the humanitarian effort. At a special meeting in November of 2015, StFX faculty members, representatives of the StFX Students’ Union, three employee unions, the Association of University Teachers and senior administration members voted on a motion to create StFX for SAFE. The goal of this newly founded initiative was to raise $100 000 in sponsorship money for SAFE, to aid in their resettlement efforts. 

Many readers will balk at the idea of a $100 000 goal - if it seems like a steep target, it’s because it was. In a town of only 20 000 people and a school of under 5 000 students, many saw this goal as nothing short of casually optimistic. With fundraising events such as the Peace for Syrian Walk, two Pause for the Cause campaigns, “Hair Today/Gone Tomorrow”, and the benefit-based theatrical performances of StFX for Safe Vice-President Majd Al-Zhouri, StFX for SAFE reached their fundraising goal of $100 000 within 18 months. 

Together with other private sponsorship groups such as the Tri-Heart Society and C.A.R.E. Foundation based out of St. Ninian’s Parish, a total of eight Syrian families have resettled in Antigonish, with a ninth in the works. 

StFX for SAFE and WUSC are both examples of the importance of participating in the community as a global citizen. It reflects the sheer magnitude of change that can happen when individuals come together focused on promoting refugee justice. Both societies invite you to attend StFX Refugee Awareness Day and demonstrate your support for refugees around the world. Regardless of the size of your contribution, whether you give your time or donate funds, you can make a difference - the small ripples of the few create waves of change at their intersect.

To find out more, search StFX for SAFE and StFX WUSC on Facebook.

 
 

Marijuana Demand Way Higher Than Supply

 

Canada officially becomes the second nation in the world to fully legalize marijuana

On October 17, Canada officially become the second nation in the world to fully legalize marijuana. 

However, the much-anticipated legalization day has proven to be more than a bit anti-climactic. Supply of legal cannabis across Canada has not been able to catch up with the demand. In a press- release, a spokesperson for the NSLC said “The supply challenges are being experienced nationwide and are not exclusive to Nova Scotia.” British Columbia, long notorious for its unauthorized dispensaries and illicit supply of marijuana, has only one sanctioned storefront. Government run cannabis retailers in Quebec shut down for three days this week due to a lack of product. In the other provinces, the situation is more-or-less the same. 

The supply issue can be traced to bureaucracy. Red tape and legal hurdles are making the processing of marijuana producers and dispensaries painstakingly slow. All would-be producers and sellers of cannabis, whether government owned or private, must apply for registration with Health Canada. As of Friday, November 2, only 132 producers and 78 retailers have been approved. In addition, many of the currently licensed retailers are small storefronts. In an attempt to keep up with the applications, Health Canada has hired 300 additional staff members for evaluating producers. 

In one example of the process, CTV News found that a producer in Ontario, FSD Pharma Inc, was approved to grow marijuana one year ago, but they are still waiting for a license to sell today. 

In Ontario, physical locations will not be open until April at the earliest, meaning sales of cannabis are being handled online by the Ontario Cannabis Store website. In addition to a supply shortage, the current strike by workers at Canada Post is making even delivery problematic. 

Perhaps, some shortages are reasonable to expect. A spokeswoman for Health Canada, Tammy Jarbeau added to the discussion, “As with any new industry where there is considerable consumer demand, we expect there may be periods where inventories of some products run low or, in some cases, run out,” Certainly though, a simplification of the process would help ensure inventories don’t run out as often. The federal government is reportedly working on doing that. 

In Nova Scotia, it’s worth noting too that the packaging of marijuana sales in the NSLC’s Cannabis section is excessive. Cannabis is sold in plastic jars inside cardboard boxes, and often the plastic containers are have more than ample space. For example, a sale of three and a half grams is given out with enough space in the container to comfortably fit seven or more grams. Shoppers looking for a green solution would probably like to see a dispensary that allows customers to use reusable containers. However, Health Canada has the final say, requiring marijuana “be packaged in an immediate container that is tamper-evident, child-resistant, prevents contamination and keeps cannabis dry.” As per regulation, cannabis sales must also include Health Canada produced health and safety documents. So, it seems the NSLC’s hands may be tied here. 

While we can all respect the need to keep drugs out of the hands of children and assurances that users of a drug are well informed, the regulations seem inconsistent. Why would cannabis need to be so heavily protected, when even hard liquor is not held to the same standards? No one was ever given health and safety information with a 40-ounce sale of vodka, nor does the government require it be sold in a child proof container. As Canadian society adapts to the new laws, perhaps this is liable to change. 

Either way, since the new legal infrastructure has made it impossible for many consumers to satisfy their desires, it should come as no surprise that many are returning to black-market sources. Included in the new legislation is the ability to grow up to 4 plants per household. Those with the right setting to do so may take to growing their own, but that’s not likely to help anyone in the short term. 

Hopefully, as Health Canada approves more producers, the short supply proves short lived - only time will tell. 

 
 

The Logic & Danger of Trump’s latest Political Move

 

U.S. President threatens to pull out of Cold War nuclear treaty

President Trump announced his intention to withdraw the United States from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty last month, on October 20. The president has decided to abandon the treaty due to purported violations by Russia, the second signatory to the bilateral agreement. While a withdrawal from the treaty may seem logical to counter the reported nuclear development by Russia, Trump’s decision may put global security at risk.

The INF treaty was signed in 1987, between former presidents Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. It eliminated Soviet and American short and intermediate range land-based nuclear and conventional missiles in Europe, essentially eliminating an entire category of nuclear weapons. Along with other treaties like the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, the INF treaty helped bring an end to the arms race between the two countries and signalled the end of the Cold War.

The very reason why Trump wants to scrap the INF is similar to the reason why it was signed in the first place – the threat of nuclear strikes in Europe. Trump has accused Russia of violating the treaty by developing a ground-launched nuclear system that could reach continental Europe without much warning. Similarly, in 1987, the INF treaty was signed after the Soviets deployed short-range ballistic missiles that could target NATO alliance members with little notice. In a sense, Trump’s decision to pull out of the treaty is a logical move to confront, once again, a perceived threat of a Russian nuclear presence in Europe.

Beyond expanded ground-based launch systems, Trump’s move to withdraw from the treaty may have been spurred by Russia’s increasing interest in upgrading their nuclear arsenal. Earlier this year, Putin announced the development of two new nuclear delivery systems, one of which is a hypersonic system that could evade existing missile defense systems. Since Russia seems to be expanding its nuclear capabilities, although its claims have not been verified yet, it is only rational for Trump to turn towards the time-tested nuclear deterrent.  

Withdrawing from the INF treaty could have other benefits for the United States, such as signing new treaties between Russia, China, and other emerging nuclear powers that regulate what types of nuclear weapons are acceptable. One of Trump’s reasons for scrapping the treaty is to attempt to coerce China into signing a similar agreement, since it too has been expanding its nuclear capabilities. Unfortunately, the suggestion of a multilateral nuclear treaty may be a fool’s errand; China has condemned Trump’s decision to unilaterally leave the INF treaty, which does not bode well for the chances of a treaty between the United States and China.

Critics of Trump’s announcement to leave the INF treaty say that his actions could lead to another arms race and further destabilization in international politics. Gorbachev himself wrote, “The United States has in effect taken the initiative in destroying the entire system of international treaties and accords that served as the underlying foundation for peace and security following World War II.” in his op-ed piece about Trump’s decision in the New York Times. Scrapping one nuclear treaty could lead down the slippery slope that sees the abandonment of multiple nuclear weapons control treaties, and the beginning of a renewed nuclear arms race.

There have also been mixed reactions from allies of the United States after Trump’s announcement. Britain’s defense minister Gavin Williamson voiced his support for the United States’ withdrawal from the INF treaty. 

On the other hand, Germany, France, the EU have expressed concerns about an arms race and the implications for NATO. While Trump seems to be reacting to emerging security threats, he may leave the INF treaty with little support from the majority of his allies, as they try to stabilize power shifts in global politics without resorting to deterrence through mutually assured destruction.

Overall, Trump’s decision to potentially withdraw the United States from the INF treaty should come as no surprise given his track record of treaty withdrawals and coercive behaviour during his time in office. 

Regardless of outcome, it is imperative that the president carefully weigh the risk of emerging nuclear powers and Russia’s aggression against the global costs of resuming nuclear arms races before formally tearing up the INF treaty.

 
 

StFX Students and Remembrance Day

 

What’s the situation with young people and November 11?

Remembrance Day is so engrained in Canadian culture that it runs the risk of becoming routine. While the core spirit of the holiday – remembering veterans and reflecting on Canada’s involvement in wars – remains, is Remembrance Day more of a symbol than an impactful, solemn event as it is intended to be?

Being in a history class, I decided to ask some of my classmates to write down anything they knew about the poppy – where it came from, what it represents, anything. I was curious to see if StFX students who take history classes at a 200+ level would know more than the basics. Among the 8 students I surveyed, there were a few common things mentioned. Seven of the eight surveyed mentioned the poem In Flanders Fields (with two mentioning the author’s name, John McCrae). Special mention of the First and Second World Wars was the second most common thing to mention, with six students referencing it. Besides these two, everything else was pretty scattered. Many answers were unique; referencing the Canadian Legion, the commonwealth, generic “battlefields” and “remembering the past”, and only two students had things to say about the history of the poppy itself. This information was exclusively tied to the evolution of the poppy’s appearance, and the do’s and don’ts of how poppies should be worn.

Honestly, this was about what I expected. In Flanders Fields is such a ubiquitous part of Remembrance Day culture. Not only is it common to memorize the poem in grade school, but it’s also used in song form during some Remembrance Day ceremonies. Knowing about the World Wars should also be a given. Besides this, student answers about the poppy varied. 

If a class of mostly history students had overwhelmingly basic offhand knowledge about poppies and November 11th in general, does that mean students who aren’t engaging with history (especially Canadian history) would be even less aware? It’s hard to tell. I’m not sure if spouting ‘fun facts’ about a holiday based around remembering war is all that important. 

Something that makes Canada’s Remembrance Day unique is the speed in which it all got started. Founded as a special day in 1921, Canadians were among the first to engage with war in a way that involved living memory. We were rapidly involved in setting up memorials and remembrance ceremonies. Is there a bias against updating anything to do with Remembrance Day today? I’d say that the negative reaction is there. The White Poppy has routinely been a controversial idea; created to be a symbol of pacifism, the White Poppy often incites negative reaction from people who automatically assume that this alternative is meant to replace the Red Poppy. While some people do use this poppy, it looks like it won’t become mainstream for a long time, if ever. 

Poppies, In Flanders Fields, the Legion, and ceremonies are the common traits of November 11th, but beyond all of this, isn’t the emotional reaction you get from this holiday the thing that’s the most important? A lot of people have ties to veterans, whether they knew their veteran relatives or not. Taking off the “world war” lens, we have so many other war-related things to be including in our cultural memory. The Korean war, the Gulf war, the Afghanistan War, and Canada’s involvement in peacekeeping missions are certainly included in Veteran’s Affairs Canada’s official Remembrance Day information. I believe that among the general public, the focus is overwhelmingly on WWI/WWII. It’s not bad by any means to focus on these catastrophic events in world history, but with more and more veterans from the world wars passing away, maybe a heightened focus on Canada’s modern and 

ongoing military engagements would be beneficial. Bringing awareness to younger people who might not have any living relative who interacted with “wartime Canada” in the WWI/WWII sense could create further inclusion for those currently serving in the Forces and perhaps revitalize the ceremonies and bring forth the concept of living remembrance.

 
 

It’s Time to Eat

 

Discussing Politics Revamped and Served with Pie

Over time the interest in politics has been declining, meanwhile we have never had more access to information or have been so informed about the politicians and representatives locally or internationally. In America, Donald Trump was voted into office and the impact his presidency has had has caused people to get heavily involved in discussing politics. Enter MADA, Making America Dinner Again, a movement to encourage people to get involved in politics in a safe environment. Created by Justine Lee and Tria Chang, they encourage small dinner parties consisting of six to eight people, keeping it preferably even. They suggest that the host takes time to get guests with differentiating opinions and to reach out to established groups to create a list of follow ups in case of cancellation. The idea is to allow different sides to express their opinions and defend their points while creating a safe space to encourage people to be open and honest about how they feel and what they believe. They have created a full step by step guide for those interested in hosting. 

I believe this is a brilliant tactic to engage the community into enjoying the act of debating their viewpoints, but also in creating informed opinions. The current political climates in our university, our town, our province and our country are rising. StFX is dealing with the discontent of their student body on management of sexual assault. Antigonish and neighbouring areas are rising against Randy Delorey over the growing concerns to changes made in Healthcare. Nova Scotia faces a growing migration issue from small communities to urban centres for employment, and a lack of attention from the federal government. Canada’s federal government is under scrutiny for its green policies and the Trans Canada Pipeline amongst other issues. There is a problem that the issues aren’t being discussed and are not as heavily advertised as the Trump administration. More people need to be informed of the current events that happens at home in their community on top of the international community. 

By implementing the idea of these dinner parties, but perhaps under something more relevant to Canadian politics, we could encourage people to get involved in local politics. Discussing matters relevant to them and staying informed on current events within the community. The creators of this movement have made it simple to create your own; from including options to cover costs, to offering suggestions for locations if you’re uncomfortable hosting it on your own. The evening breaks down into activities, topic selection, discussions and more to encourage a fun environment. Rules are implemented, such as a safe word, in case the conversation becomes too heated. 

Eating has a long history of bringing people together, and in a campus environment it can become even easier using meal hall if you have a plan.  As social creatures, this interaction helps people to deter the growing trend of isolation. We do not have to agree to build a community, but if we can communicate, express ourselves clearly and defend why we think that way, we become that much stronger. With the different societies and social media groups, finding people with different opinions is simplified. The biggest challenge of this activity is patience and respect, something we often take for granted even in ourselves. Separating a person from their opinions or actions can sometimes be difficult, if not impossible. Knowing the boundaries in a discussion and being able to come together afterwards and recognize that a person is more than their beliefs on a specific issue is what is vital in building healthy opinions and relationships.

 
 

Dear StFX

 

A final goodbye

It seems such a crime to not fill such a beautiful journal with beautiful words.  But here I am with a beautiful journal, a long bus ride ahead of me, and filled with some negative emotions.  I guess I should start with StFX, the university that broke my heart.  I wouldn’t say I was necessarily excited to go back, having been sexually assaulted the previous year, but I was certainly hopeful.  I had reported to the school and my assaulter was suspended for the year.  This was my fresh start, my chance to make my home there.  There was still a voice in my head saying, ‘you only have a year of safety there.’  I pushed the voice away, determined to make the best of this year.  I’d switched myself into Mackinnon Hall from Riley for a more social experience.  I was in contact with a student involved with the weightlifting club so that I could join.  I was taking medication to help with my mental health.  I set up appointments at the hospital and Women’s Resource Centre.  I really thought I’d put everything in place to have a kick ass second year.  I may have had to avoid a certain fast food restaurant because my assaulter was living in town and working there but that was okay.  I always had the campus as my safe place.  This campus, this community, this family, I chose it.  I chose to return despite my assault last year, I chose to move forward and heal.

I wish the school had given me that chance as I’d fallen in love with the town, StFX, and the community.  Through a friend of mine I had heard the accused was seen at the radio station greeting new students.  I was livid and terrified.  How could that not be monitored?  It was the first day of classes, for the first time since landing in Nova Scotia I’d felt excited.  I had packed my bag for class and headed over to the RLC office to let them know about the accused.  Someone brought me over to talk to the director of student life, Jacqueline De Leebeeck.  I started to recount what I’d heard and for some reason the look on her face made my stomach drop.  She started off, “there’s been a miscommunication, I’m sorry.”  I felt my heartbeat start to speed up.  “His lawyers got in contact with our legal counsel and he’s been permitted to take classes this year.”  I still don’t think I have the words to describe how that felt but I’ll try.  All at once it hit me and I was scared, angry, broken hearted and most of all I felt betrayed.  This school that was supposed to protect me treated me and my assault like a joke.  I got up to run outside as I felt the panic attack coming on.  She threw out, “he’s only allowed on campus for classes,” as if that’s fucking consolation.  I bolted out of the office and called my mom mid-panic attack.  I was crying, shaking, yelling.  She could barely make out what I was saying, I could barely breathe.  I was utterly devastated knowing StFX cared about my safety so little.  My mom told me she’d book me a flight for the next morning.  She would never leave me somewhere I could never feel safe again.  Before I went to pack my things I stopped in the RLC office one last time.  I let Jacqueline know she could share all information with my mother and that, “no I will not be staying to handle my academics, you guys will be doing that as well as reimbursing us, I’m going home.”


It broke my heart, but I left StFX. 


I left Antigonish.

I left Nova Scotia.

 
 

Meet Kelly Ann Farrell

 

Farrell’s artwork for sale at the Tall and Small

If you find yourself rushing into 342 Main Street before morning class or if you have time to sip on a coffee while you study, be sure to take a moment to look at the walls. The ordinary warm cherry interior of the coffee shop is beautifully decorated with a smattering of colourful paintings. From beach scenes to portraits to depictions of houses around town, artist Kelly Farrell has taken over the Tall and Small with her dozens of canvases. 

Born and raised in Antigonish, Farrell has, for a while now, become a well-known artist and icon in her community. She is an active member of the L’Arche community in town and is currently featured on the artists’ page of the L’Arche International website. Farrell has undoubtedly made an impression with her work in her home community – and she certainly has our attention. 

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A member of Hearts & Hands in Antigonish, Farrell is a workhorse in the art studio on the corner of West Street and Highland Drive. Mentors Tina Angustia and Glen Mattie at the Studio can attest to Farrell’s work ethic and ability to motivate herself when it comes to her work. Angustia commented, “Kelly is always looking for what to paint next”. Smeared across the upstairs walls where Farrell creates her work are blown-up photographs of her subjects. These photos are strewn on her workspace, hanging on the door frame by her desk and serve as her primary perspective when she begins her projects. Along with painting, Farrell also enjoys photography and drawing.

When asked about her favourite part of working at the Studio, Farrell answered, “The people.” Farrell shares space upstairs with several of her friends and fellow artists. She signed, “The people are silly… there was a Halloween party where people made funny faces in a Photo Booth and people danced. Glam (her nickname for Glen) had a lemonhead.” It goes without saying, the everyday events in Farrell’s involved life are worth documenting. And that is what she does - so brilliantly well. 

Farrell’s art isn’t solely a vehicle for her talent in visual arts. It is also a means of communication. Her paintings are all snapshots of the beautiful memories she has, the people who mean the most to her, and the unforgettable places she’s been. While at the Tall and Small on October 25th for her artist’s Meet and Greet, Kelly signed about her variety of canvases on display. She picked up a couple paintings leaning on the west-most wall and signed, “When I was with my sister in Orlando, Florida, with palm trees… and kayaking.” Several of her paintings reflect her other interests and hobbies outside of making master pieces. “I like summer. I enjoy taking pictures, boats, biking, kayaking, the cottage, and spending time with my sister.” Farrell also enjoys some of the finer things like the rest of us. “I like pizza, playing pool, drinking wine and having tea (Twinning’s especially!) … [with friends and family].”

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Candidly, coming into the Studio to check out Farrell’s work felt like an interruption. Immersed in her work in progress, a painting of her brother’s new car, it almost didn’t feel right to take her out of her zone. However, as soon as she was asked to explain her love for creating, the list of reasons went on. As Farrell explained why painting makes her happy, she wrote out and drew her reasons. She paints a clear picture. Farrell’s constant running dialogue, in the form of fine art, will not be stopped. It is her way of consolidating communication, fond memories and emotion for others. Her art is a universal language we can all understand and enjoy on different levels. It is clear to everyone around her that more than anything, Farrell loves what she does, and this message is conveyed in each of her canvases.

 
 

X-Pride and Coffeehouses

 

Robert Chatterton on the LGBTQIA2S+ community in Antigonish

X-Pride’s very own Robert Chatterton generously took the time to be interviewed by Bailey DeEll. During this interview, we discuss his recent work with X-Pride and how he hopes it will affect the community of Antigonish. 

***

BD: How long have you been involved with the X-Pride society? 

RC: Since 2016, I began as a general member helping out with the events which lead me to have a leadership role. Later I became the president of the society in the 2017-18 year and have held the position since. 

BD: What lead you to join the society?

RC: Early on in my time at StFX I was physically assaulted because of me being gay. From this I realised the lack of supports available to those a part of the LGBTQIA2S+ community, as well as a lack of community identity in general. My goal was to create a visible community for all students and to educate all students, especially those in first year, about the LGBTQIA2S+ and how to be an ally. 

BD: What kinds of events do you currently hold to promote education and community at StFX?

RC: Sex Toy Bingo is hosted at the Inn once per semester, it is designed to be a sex positive and queer inclusive space to educate people on sex, especially sex outside the heterosexual couple. Spill the Tea is a workshop based educational discussion around different topics that effect the queer community specifically, this year we have covered sexualized violence and coming out narratives. In future Spill the Tea’s we plan to cover gender and Queer Intersectionality’s: How you can be privileged and oppressed at the same time, among others. We also held National Coming out Day organized by Bre O’Handley, the Gender and Sexuality Diversity Adviser. We gave students the opportunity to fill out a message on various posters, each with their own writing prompt to support and identify with the queer community. We have also had two Awareness weeks, one for bisexuality and the other for asexuality. These two identities are not necessarily recognized and validated so we wanted to highlight them and publicly show our support for these communities. Also we hold community building events, such as Homoween Bowling, movie nights, board gaymes’ nights. We also host coffeehouses at the Tall and Small each month where it is open to everyone in the community, including those in high school and older generations, to have an intergenerational mingling of queer folk.  

BD: With the coffeehouses being held so regularly, how do you feel they are beneficial for the community?

RC: I think they are beneficial because they provide an assessable queer positive representation that I think this town needs. Being someone from a rural Nova Scotian town, I had no queer positive representation in my life, until I came to StFX. Because of this, I had internalized homophobia and didn’t come out until I was 20. With the coffeehouses, my goal was to create a visible queer positive space that anyone can attend, from high school students to senior citizens, that will build intergenerational community and shift the town to be more queer inclusive as a whole. Hosting these coffeehouses at one of our local coffee shops bridges the gap between the university and the town. 

BD: What are some of your future plans for X Pride this year that students and community members can look forward to? 

RC: On November 20 we are holding a vigil for our Trans Day of remembrance, in which we remember and honour all those who have died because of transphobia. January contains the events I am most excited to tell you about, it is our Pride Month at StFX and we will have different events to celebrate the multifaceted interests of the community. Some of these events include a queer X Talks, drag queen hosted Sex Toy Bingo, and the Nova Scotia renowned drag show “Priscilla, Queen of the Highlands.” While these three are the highlights of the month, we still host our regular events like the coffeehouse and Spill the Tea, but also events exclusive to this month like rainbow party, art night, among others. Lastly we organize a trip to the Halifax pride parade in July to have local Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) students experience a celebration of queer identity. 

For more on X-Pride check them out on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and for other resources pertaining to the LGBTQIA2S+ community look for Bre O’Handley in the new offices on the fourth floor of the Bloomfield Centre, or contact her at bohandle@stfx.ca

 
 

Visible @ X Halloween Posters

 

Successful campaign or scary slip-up?

Students passing through the Bloomfield Centre in the past few months will have paid witness to the new Visible @ X advertising strategy: eight foot tall pieces of cardboard plastered with posters about consent. The first round of posters, put out for homecoming weekend, took to re-imagining popular StFX cheers to champion consent, boasting slogans such as “sex is dynamite, but only if there is consent” and “Go X Go, Go Sex Go.” 

From the Visible @ X webpage, “Visible @ X means zero tolerance for sexual violence of any kind” and that “consent is not optional.” The goal behind the posters follows that philosophy - to impress the importance of consent on StFX students, and to get students talking about consent by connecting it to relevant events and popular slogans on campus. To achieve this, Visible @ X has designed a series of different posters for different holidays and events on campus. The most recent round of posters features zombies, bats, and a haunted house for Halloween; but are zombies the only scary thing about these posters?

Despite the good intentions behind the campaign, feminist students and faculty are shocked and disappointed at the choice of slogan: “too drunk to consent, or zombie?” Comparing someone who can’t consent to a fictional monster makes light of an extremely important issue, and is particularly ignorant in wake of recent events on campus. 

First year student and activist Jenny Li is one of the many students to voice concern, and states that “in their attempts to lighten the subject matter, the posters trivialized sexual violence and did little to advance the education and awareness so vital to its prevention.” Jasmine Cormier, who has spoken up about the campaign on Twitter, agrees, “trying to make light of such a serious issue that students face every day isn’t what’s needed right now... comparing someone who’s heavily intoxicated/possibly drugged to a zombie just sends a message that this problem isn’t real or meaningful.” 

Other students, Grace Tompkins among them, don’t feel comfortable being in a space where posters such as this are being displayed. “The language used in them was extremely insensitive, and seeing 20+ of them plastered on a board in the SUB made me feel uneasy,” shares Tompkins.

Perhaps a bright side to this slip-up is that it has succeeded in sparking conversation about the importance of language in talking about sexualized violence and assault, as is evident, for example, on Twitter. Li adds, as well, that “it is heartening to see any effort made, by student or staff, toward the prevention of sexualized violence.” Progress isn’t a flawless process, but what is important is that we learn from our mistakes moving forward, and ensure that they aren’t repeated. 

 
 

Musicians in the Spotlight

 

Female musicians who hone their craft

St. Vincent - Actor

  ilovestvincent.com

ilovestvincent.com

Annie Clark’s Annie Clark, but St.Vincent changes. St. Vincent is her vehicle. Her 2007 debut Marry Me and 2017 release Masseduction polarize from one another in every way: tone, musicality, lyrical content, promotional material, general aesthetic, whatever you’d like. Marry Me’s off-beat brand of quiet, self-aware, and soft-spoken feminine energy acts as a warm hug from someone who smells interesting - I can’t quite pin down the spice or if I like it, but it’s warm and it has my attention. Masseduction drops the “good girl,” amps up the aggression and angularity. It smells like sex (check out the title track). 

So, I’d like to bring something in the middle, 2009’s Actor. Annie Clark spent much of the writing process listening to Disney scores. “The Strangers” opens Actor, beginning with the soft, whispered deliver that featured so heavily on Marry Me. I can see the dark Paris nights from The Aristocats, but it’s subtle. Two-thirds into Track One the pulse turns to a stomp, elephants begin to play trumpets announcing Prince John’s parade through Sherwood Forest. And then we’re done. 

Actor is a hallucinogenic trip wrapped in anything you’ve ever loved about Disney. While St.Vincent’s art changes drastically from album to album, this album may be the easiest to hold and the easiest to digest. The cozy nostalgia will catch you, but her sense of edge and danger may be more memorable in the end. After all, villains usually get the best songs.

Oathbreaker - Rheia

  deathwishinc.com

deathwishinc.com

This will be the most difficult listening experience you’ve ever had, no question. Oathbreaker’s 2016 LP, Rheia is an album of contradictions - one of my favourite recordings ever and I can barely survive the whole record. Caro Tanghe’s vocal performance is one of the best I’ve ever heard, and I hated every second of it. This record’s a behemoth, I’ll try to make sense of it.

Genre’s the hardest question. Oathbreaker combines delicate but haunting folk-inspired breaks that act as a short breather between white-hot blasts of black metal. Halfway through the first bits of black metal, the first of Caro’s shrieks, any self-respecting person would pause the album, turn it off, and never listen to it again. After all, black metal has traditionally been understood as male-dominated, brutally heavy, unrelenting and impenetrable. With Rheia, we’re left with some of the second, a bit of the third, a whole lot of the fourth, and absolutely none of the first. Her anger and aggression are uncompromisingly feminine. Her calm moments, while quieter, sound cold. She delivers her lyrics as a figure who after screaming in frustration begins to quietly mumble: “I’m just disappointed.” 

With Rheia, Oathbreaker gives a listening experience you’ll never forget. You, like me, will have difficulty sitting through it. And you, like me, will be left exhausted and smiling because it happened - smiling too because it’s over.

Pronoun - itty bitty discography (the whole discography’s gold)

Ever catch yourself thinking “Bleed American was music’s peak?” No? Just me? Alright. Alyse Vellturo of pronoun loves emo as much as she hates capitalization, and it shows. 

I’m a walking cliché for this one - I found pronoun through Audiotree sessions. Once they stop introducing me to half-decent music, I’ll stop paying attention. First things first, Alyse’s voice takes most of my attention. There’s a quiver in her live vocal that comes off less nervous and more intentional. It’s as though she’s giving the impression of a shaky singer just happening on every note perfectly, an accidental artist. 

But maybe I’m using flowery gobbley-guk and missing the point. After all, her story implies introversion and stage fright. Alyse wrote most of pronoun’s lo-fi sound in her bedroom, whisper-singing her vulnerable lyrics. Rather than slotting into “Audiotree band with a mumbling front person, awful moustaches that smell of cheap IPAs, clothing caught somewhere between ’97 and ’02, the bassist just outside camera view, the drummer who keeps losing time, and the keyboardist who keeps mean-mugging”, pronoun sneaks a smile on your face. Go to your Spotify right now, listen to Pronoun’s most recent single “Run”. There it is, there’s that goofy-ass smile. Pronoun doesn’t bring nostalgia in some heavy-handed sledgehammer like vapourware. You’re taken to better times, wherever or whenever they were - though, the clothes just might be baggier.

While the pronoun discography lasts for now as long as a sneeze, Alyse Vellturo hasn’t made a single duff note.

 
 

Frank Landry Preserves Acadian Phonetics in Writing

 

An unpublished interview with legendary Acadian author

Yanik Gallie interviews Frank Landry at the Starbucks coffee house in Chapters at the location in Dieppe, New-Brunswick during the summer of 2015. 

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YG : Comment sta commencer par écrire dans les journaux?

FL : J’ai écrit pour 3 journaux. J’ai mis 25 ans pour le Moniteur, ptête moins. En total, 33 ans ‘going on’ 34, ce qui inclue la vie de Delphine. Avant ça, j’écrivais un autre caractère qui s’appelait Old Josh. J’ai une fascination pour la phonetic, pi j’aime d’être un raconteux d’histoire. J’ai un background en sociologie. Sociologie veut dire tu fais beaucoup d’recherche. J’ai aussi pris des cours d’anthropologie. Ça ne me met pas plus intéressant, j’dis ink que y’avait des affaires importantes que j’avais été appris quansse tu fais d’la recherche, comme y faut que tu préserves des tels moments dans une histoire. 

Quand j’ai arrivé à Halifax, j’avais écrit Old Josh, les phonetics d’un Cap Bretonner. J’tais un gars de Shédiac pi phonétique cer toute que j’faisais. J’ai pensé pourquoi n’pas préserver la phonétique de cosse qué le chiac? 

J’ai commencé à faire du théâtre itou quand j’ai back arrivé de Halifax. Cer vraiment un journaliste par le nom de Daniel Chrétien qui travaillait pour un journal qu’est arrivé a moi. Pour qaziment un an de temps, on allait au Pizza Delight à Shédiac. J’enseignais des cours d’art le jour, pi le soir on s’flaquait tute là, la gang, pi on parlait pi on cacossait over une bière chaque jeudi pour quasiment un an de temps. Daniel disait, “pi Frank tu devrais p’tête bin commencer à écrire des histouaires.” Pi moi chavais pas si j’voulais faire ça. Jusqu’à temps que quelqu’un nous a dit voulez-vous vous taire parce que vraiment cecitte cer rendu tannant pi j’veux pas back vous entendre parce que sois que vous l’faites ou taissez-vous. Cecitte cer le mois d’Octobre. J’noublirais jamais, tout d’un coup j’ai dit j’va essayer d’écrire. J’ai écrit. J’ai introduit mon caractère dans le journal pi j’ai dit j’va écrire jusqu’à noël. Trois mois, j’ai pensé, ça ne lastera pas… chavais pas cossé jm’embarquais dedans. So, j’ai arrêté à Noël, j’ai même dit mes goodbyes. Tout d’un coup, le premier mercredi du mois de Février j’ai la phone call du newspaper qui dit, “pourrais-tu mnir au bureau du journal faut tu viennes ramonsser ton courriel?” Moi, j’mattendais d’avoir tête bin une lettre, deux lettres. Tu sais les gros sacs de garbage orange? Ceux d’Halloween, yen avait trois et demi à craquer de lettres: Delphine faut q’tu viennes back on t’trouve comique pi dadada... Moi chu overwhelmed at this point because j’avais toutemps ma joie de vivre comme un artiste. Peinturer, dessiner, animer parce que j’ai un background en arts visuel, c’étaient mon plaisir. 

J’aimais écrire pour le journal but j’écrivais déjà des lettres funny à mes friends. C’nétait pas les histouaires, c’tait plutôt parler about moi. Comme faire amine té au collège pi j’tenvois une lettre qui dit “Le chien à manger la jambe de bois à mon père.” J’aurais pu t’écrire des niaiseries d’même but c’tait jamais Delphine. C’tait toutemps Frank avec des jokes pi j’tarrais même écrit su du papier de toilette pour dire. Ju endjablé comme sa, ju un joueur de tours. 

Après ça, le journal appartenait à Irving at the time, L’Express. L’Express n’a pas duré plus qu’un an et demi avant de fermer ces portes. Daniel Chrétien qui travaillait pour eux, lui a starter à travailler pour l’Acadie Nouvelle. Daniel a vendu l’idée à l’Acadie Nouvelle qu’on devrait experimenter. J’va être vraiment honnête, je l’enjoyais pi je l’enjoyais pas parceque ça qu’arrive cer que l’journal allait dans l’nord pi beaucoup d’monde n’appréciait pas ce genre de writing. Y’a du monde qui croiait c’était un language pas vrai que j’inventais. À moment donné, j’ai venu à un point ousser que moi j’voulais vraiment arrêter. J’en avais déjà parlé avec un Monsieur qu’était là pi j’ai dit, “jpense pas. I don’t think its gonna work anymore.” Lui ma appelé pi y’a dit p’tête bin c’est une bonne idée qu’on arrêterait, mais tu sais que tu peux faire autres choses. J’navais pas été firer, on avait parlé pi c’était alright so j’ai arrêté. J’navais pas le tchoeur de cassé. J’était comme, cer fine. 

Eventuellement, Le Moniteur vient me chercher. But, ça prit du temps avant que j’ai dit oui au Moniteur. J’était assis dans l’mall à Shédiac, au restaurant, pi j’ai dit, “j’va y penser.” Y’a dit, “ben non, ben y faut.” J’ai dit, “jva y penser.” Pi j’étais vraiment right là pi j’ai dit la vraie vérité de cosse jpensais. Parce que, à moment donné quansse j’écrivais dans l’Express, le Moniteur, whoever qui travaillait là à l’époque, attackait Delphine. J’ai encore les chroniques anti-Delphine publiées par le Moniteur de sauvé. So, ej n’voulais pas vraiment aller travailler pour l’enemie at the time. Le monde de par chenous me connaissait comme quelqun qui fsait des fundraiser d’la communauté, eux ont été au Moniteur pour dire “wowow! Sais-tu quissse que t’attaques icitte?”

Gisèle qui travail au Moniteur, bless her soul, j’la connaissait ben. Elle m’appel pi elle dit,  “Frank, I hope tu mind pas…tatata…”  J’ai dit, “j’va l’essayer.” J’lai essayé pi it’s been like a big family ever since. C’était pu les mêmes personnes qu’étions là, c’était une nouvelle dynamique avec Gisèle pi Betty qui travaillent au Moniteur. Betty est vraiment une personne fantastique. Le monde là, y fsont du cheering on. C’est eux qui m’appellent défois pour me laisser sawaire cossé quer la feel des tels affaires. Une joke c’est la fois qui voulions faire une nudist beach à Shediac. J’avais entendu ça pi j’ai dit, “c’tu vrai?” Yon dit, “ouaille.” J’ai dit, “ben moi j’croix j’va explorer l’histoire.” J’ai parlé que Delphine s’avait décidé qu’elle allait aller faire du bird watching parceque cer intéressant ouaire les oiseaux. Elle a arrivé à la fin pi elle a dit, “Imaginez-vous si y’aurrait des grous signs en sortant d’la beach qui met: Bienvenues d’avoir nues par chenous.” Parceque on n’dit pas, “venu.” Nous autes on dit, “t’as nues chenous ein?” It was a play on word. Ça quej fait cer qu’ej joue avec les mots. J’amène aussi des vieilles expressions dans mes écritures.

YG : Parle-moi de la naissance de Delphine.

FL : Delphine est née hors de rien. It came out of nothingness. On f’sait des carnivals d’hivers et des soirées amateurs. So, tout d’un coup moi j’utais cosse t’appelles un character performer. Ça veut dire, n’importe quoi tu m’aurais donné comme prop, j’peux improviser avec comme le best of the best. Jutais d’le backroom au carnaval d’hivers pis j’utais censé être un cowboy. J’allais sortir dehors pi j’savais pas cosse j’allais m’appeler. Tout d’un coup, y’ont dit,  ‘la suit de cowboy n’te fit pas!’ Y’ont amener une peruque verte de Marywitch. Y’ont amener un gros chapeau de Cowboy en foam de Calgary Stampedes. Pi la, y mon flaqué une robe. J’ai dit ‘vous êtes pas bin j’veux pas porter cecitte!’ J’ai fait la joke en sortant, j’ai dit ‘si jamais que j’suis discoveré comme cecitte j’va vous suer.’ J’ai sorti su l’stage pi chavais pas cosse j’allais faire. J’pouvais pas même jouer la guitare, j’avais ink une guitare avec une corde dedsu. J’ai sorti en avant pis j’mai introduit. J’ai dit, “ser moi la reine du carnival. J’u la reine, j’viens juste de gagné un concours de Countré. J’viens d’haute-aboujagane pi mon nom cer Delphine BB Bosse!” Cer toute j’ai dit pis j’ai fessé su la guitare. J’savais pas comment jouer but le monde dansait. Cer ste temps là j’ai pensé à moi-même le monde sont pas trop bright parce qui sont entrain de danser à cosse j’chante. J’men rappel des premières paroles que j’ai chanté, “chanter du countré cer po mal aisé, chanter du countré cer chanté du nez.” Pis lmonde sa dansais pi sa s’garochait. 

Normally, moi j’faisais jamais back les caractères à deux fois. So, j’va faire comme les Golden Girls su l’TV la vieille-là. Picture this : L’année suivante, j’arrive pi moi j’avais l’intention de faire d’autres caractères pi le président du carnaval d’hivers Mr. Raymond Leblanc avait parlé t’au monde pi y’avais dit tu devrais dire à Frank qui refasse ce caractère-là. Y’on dit “tu vas aoir un argument avec lui si tu plan ça.” Pi dans l’temps j’nécrivais pas encore, c’était ink des monologues en Chiac. J’arrive là pi j’wois l’grous chapeau de cowboy. J’ai dit, “Non! Cossé qué ça?” Y’ont dit, “ah, non, on va juste te faire picker d’quoi d’autre.” Come to find out, j’tais back Delphine. J’ai sorti avec Delphine pi les Poutines parce que y’aviont trouvé deux personnes pour être des chanteuses en arrière. Une des chansons qu’on avait jouée c’était “Hey Hey Good Looking” jl’ai chanté à la Delphine. Delphine chante mal vraiment, but Delphine dans sa brain elle est une légende. You have to remember, she’s bigger than life. Elle a la permission de dire ça qu’à veut. Ousse que moi, Frank Landry, j’noserais pas dire la motché des affaires qu’à dirait. Elle est devenue comme la reincarnation, ou ptête, l’influence de toutes les femmes fortes que moi j’ai connu dans ma famille. 

YG : Cossé qué ton writing process?

FL : J’écris d’avance. J’écris, j’mets la date. J’dit, “Ok, ça parrait ben… J’l’envois. J’ai des souvenirs de jokes but pour te dire spécifiquement cosse qu’était toute dans l’histoire : chepas. Moi j’nécris pas pour m’assir pi composer. J’m’assis là pour être un raconteur d’histoire. C’est là ousque creative writing rentre en jeux. Ça veut dire que faut que j’trust les fantômes du gernier. Tous les samedi matin, j’massis à l’ordinateur avec aucune conception vraiment de cosse j’écris: j’m’assis là. Ça sonne esoteric cosse j’va dire, but it’s not meant to be like weird la, c’est que j’m’ai appris à m’truster moi-même. J’m’ai appris à truster que j’peux écrire, que j’peux raconter n’importe quoi. J’peux picker anything. J’pourrais parler about ton chapeau right now. J’composerais dequoi à la Delphine, qui peut être super hilarious. Si j’m’aperçois qu’ton chapeau n’fit pas dans l’histoire de Delphine, ben ça peut aller ptête bin à Hen-Henri ou jpeux l’fitter cheque part… pi c’est ça qu’a été le gros, gros défis: de jamais me répéter. Toutemps essayer d’garder la fraicheur d’un écrivain. Pi c’pas d’la great literature que j’fais. J’me oit comme Jane Goodall, elle qu’a fait les grosses recherches de singes. Tu vas t’moquer d’cosse j’va dire. C’est que moi j’u un follower de Jane Goodall. J’veux dire que ju dans une société pi j’observe, j’écoute. So, les singes sont vraiment le monde qui viennent de Shédiac. J’les appel pas des singes, j’dit ink que moi j’les observe pi je suis devenue cosse t’appelle une réflexion de quisse qu’eux sont. 

YG : Cosser que cer du chiac, des acadiens pi acadiennes?

FL : La naissance du chiac a mnu de la nécessité de survie au travail. Sé l’affaire la plus importante, pi l’monde ne te dit pas ça. Y ton dit que y’ont fusés parce qu’ils viviont ensemble, but la vraie nécessité de l’assimilation était pour survivre au travail. La plupart du monde qui gérait les entreprises à l’époque, c’tait les Anglais. Honestly, c’pas dire “les maudits Anglais aviont tute comme qu’à été les années d’acadie.” C’est, “Par chance aux Anglais que l’monde de Shediac a pu faire vivre leurs familles. Moi j’veux célébrer ça.”

J’veut t’dire une affaire qu’a influencé Delphine plus tard. C’est durant les années d’acadie, acadie, pi ya du monde qui va pas believer cossé j’vas dire. Quansse everybody avait dropper une tête de cochon, whatever qu’était l’histoire, c’était, “Les maudits Anglais.” Moi pi mon bon sens de ptit jeune, j’avais appris que tu peux bagueler tute qu’tu veux mais à moment donné, l’monde nt’écoute pu. J’ai appris de thinking outside the box jeune, vraiment jeune, que moi j’voulais être le future dans toute cecitte. J’ai rencontré des personnes d’influence à l’époque, qu’ont vraiment des grosses jobs de decision makers dans la province steur. Y’ont vraiment travaillé pour pi y’ont maintenu la philosophie qu’était à nous autres. Moi jviens d’se gang là oussé qu’y’ont dit ‘On arrête de bagueller. À la place de bagueller, why not si vous mettez une gang ensemble, une bunch de français pi pooler tute vos argents ensemble, pi startez-vous une business! Engager some of your own people, comme du monde de votre backyard. 

 

 
 

Unconquered

 

Fourth Invictus Games graces Sydney, Australia with inspiring performances by all

Most people today will be able to go through their entire life without facing the horrors and struggles of combat. They will not face the physical and mental challenges that proceed after serving their country. For so long, veterans, servicemen and women have suffered from life-altering injuries and mental illnesses without anywhere to turn. Oftentimes, they find it difficult to find the motivation to move forward and beyond their disabilities acquired during or after battle. 

Is there a way to break the perception that life stops after disability? Is there a way to promote rehabilitation for the wounded, injured, and ill service members that fought for our countries? Is there a means to celebrate the importance of sport and physical activity for everyone, including those who are suffering from war related injuries?

The Invictus Games, held from October 20-27, in Sydney, Australia managed to do all these things. The fourth Invictus games to take place, the event in Sydney garnered over 500 competitors from 18 countries to compete in 11 diverse sports. These sports include archery, track and field, indoor rowing, powerlifting, road cycling, sailing, sitting volleyball, swimming, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, and a driving challenge. 

The name Invictus is Latin for the word “unconquered.” It was decided by Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex to launch this event in the United Kingdom after noticing the importance and strong impact athletics can have on recovery and rehabilitation, especially for servicemen and women. Since he established the Invictus games foundation and held the first games in 2014, there have been three more held in countries around the world. This includes Orlando, USA in 2016, Toronto, CAN in 2017, and Sydney, AUS in 2018. 

Among the athlete competing included 40 Canadians, representing our country with pride and courage. The team comprises of 18 members of the armed forces and 22 veterans, all who have experienced a physical or mental health injury during their time serving Canada. Their participation is made possible thanks to many contributors, including Veterans Affairs Canada, the Province of Ontario and the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 organizing committee as part of the Canadian Armed Forces’ Soldier On program. Since beginning 11 years ago, Soldier On has been committed to supporting Canadian Veterans and has contributed $6 million directly to ill and injured service members in support of their recoveries. 

  invictusgames2018.org

invictusgames2018.org

A full list of Team Canada’s athletes was released in late July of 2018. Most of the team were notified in January that they were chosen. They all attended two training camps in Halifax, NS during the year. With regards to the training being put in, Halifax Member of Parliament, Andy Fillmore was full of pride. 

“It is great to see the camaraderie of the Team Canada athletes here in Halifax as they prepare for the Sydney Invictus Games. Each person’s transition from Canadian Armed Forces member to Veteran is a unique experience and the Invictus Games have been an incredibly positive force for many Veterans and their families during this journey.” Fillmore explained, “Our Government is proud to be part of the Invictus Spirit and I congratulate all Team Canada athletes, they deserve this and will have an entire country cheering them on as they head down under!”

Andy could not have been any more correct. Team Canada had loads of support coming from their country and other countries as well. For example, Team Canada and Team Poland worked together as one to become “Team Unconquered,” a joint wheelchair rugby team competing at the Sydney Invictus games. 

Competitors didn’t mind combining athletes from different countries because that isn’t what the games are about. Canadian competitor Casey Wall said it best when talking about his wheelchair rugby team, “The name says it itself – ‘unconquered’ – and that is what Invictus is all about. It’s getting together, it doesn’t matter what your nationality is, or where you’re from. Whatever it is, it’s getting us all back onto the same playing field.”

The importance of the Invictus games undermines all the importance of the country you’re from or the team you’re on. Everyone participating is each fighting their own unique personal battles, but at the same time they are fighting together to show a positive message about the recovery, resiliency, and tenacity they all possess. 

 
 

Three Rings in Five Years for Rugby Team

 

Tournament all-star Joanna Alphonso comments on ‘killing the bird’

Yanik Gallie interviewed Joanna Alphonso on November 6, 2018 in The Xaverian Weekly office. Alphonso is a tight-head prop for X-Women Rugby.

***

YG: Congrats on the big win. Talk to me about the game and how you prepared for the final?

JA: Going into the game, we weren’t favoured to win. That was a big cloud over our head. We knew that no team could stop us if we played 100%. Going into the game, coach Mike told us to starve their back line of the ball. That’s exactly what we did. Their #10 was really shifty and we were able to shut her down. That was our whole game plan. 

We kept possession for most of the game. Our big forwards did the job to get those tries. Our backs did a good job tackling. It was an all-around team effort.

YG: You mention coach Mike in your answer. How has the coaching team been supportive of the rugby team this year?

JA: We have amazing coaches. Mike, our head coach, Tara, our forwards’ coach, John, our scrum-half coach, and Allison our backs’ coach, they have worked with us day in and day out. They are there from 5pm to 6:30pm with us teaching us the little skills that we need to win a national championship. Definitely, Mike is a rugby genius. There’s nothing Mike doesn’t know about rugby and that helps when he’s teaching us things that help us win. Tara is amazing. She is our forwards’ coach so I work personally with her. Since I’ve been in first year, Tara has been there for me. She always had my back and she always will. John and Allison both hold special positions on our team as well. They help these individuals excel to their best ability. 

YG: Tara has been around for the three rings in the last five years. What does the third and final ring mean to you?

  Sports Photos NS

Sports Photos NS

JA: This ring is bittersweet as I don’t have any more years of eligibility. It’s also bittersweet because I think that I was part of something really special. Our rugby team is like no other. It’s a family. Those girls are there on your worst days and on your best. They pick you up whenever you need it and they have your back always. There’s always someone there when you need to talk. Also, the fact that we weren’t favoured to win the tournament. We’ve had a lot of confrontation with other teams saying that we shouldn’t have won our games. We’ve proven time and time again that we deserve the win. Our hard work definitely paid off in the end. It’s awesome to know that respect has been put on our names now because we pulled off the title. 

YG: You’ve shared this expression on social media that some of our readers might not be familiar with and it’s ‘killing the bird.’ What’s the story behind this expression? 

JA: Before we go to nationals every year we have a breakfast with Kent MacDonald and Leo MacPherson, the president of the university and our Athletic Director respectively. They give us all their well wishes. We have some loyal fans like Father Stan and Sister Jovita who come to the breakfast as well with our coaching staff and players. Every year, Mike says a speech but this year the speech was special. He stood up and he said, “We’re like cats. We get birds and we beat them up a bit and we let them go. We beat them up some more and let them go. We do that to teams all the time. We give them hell and then we let them off the hook and back off. Stop playing around, just go out there and kill the bird.”

We took that motto into the tournament. It was so fitting because every game when we took the field, that’s what kept us going. “We got to kill the bird because we can. We know that we have it, so let’s kill it.” Our last game was against the Guelph Gryphons, which is a bird, so we put it to rest.

 
 

Maryland Football Scandal

 

An all too familiar conversation continues after the death of Jordan McNair

  baltimoresun.com

baltimoresun.com

Jordan McNair was a nineteen-year-old football player for the University Of Maryland.

On May 29, 2018, McNair was in the midst of a gruelling set of ten 110-yard sprints, a tall task for the 290 lb offensive lineman.

It was then, during his eighth run that he collapsed due to cramps. He was able to get back up and complete all ten of the sprints, albeit was struggling with them. Only after the sprints was when he began to receive treatment from one of the trainers. While he was showing textbook signs of heatstroke, the trainers instead misdiagnosed him with cramps, and wrapped cold towels around them.

As he became increasingly irritable on the sidelines, a 911 call was made. He then began to foam at the mouth, the early signs of a seizure. Two ambulances arrived, and at this time, more than an hour after the completion of sprints, cold water immersion is done. Cold water immersion is 100% effective in preventing fatalities from heatstroke, when done within 10 minutes.

McNair was kept in the hospital for two weeks, until, on June 13, he died from complications of heatstroke.

McNair’s tragic death began the cascade of deplorable behaviour that was exhibited by the university.

The unpreparedness of the trainers was initially brought into question, and then it was an ESPN investigation where they discovered a “football culture based on fear and intimidation”, spearheaded by head coach DJ Durkin, and Strength Coach Rick Court.

Here are just a few examples of Court’s behaviour, and the culture that contributed to it:

- A former player said that Court told another athlete he was a “waste of life” and that “you should just fucking kill yourself.”

- “Throwing food, weights, and on one occasion a trash can full of vomit.”

- A player whom coaches wanted to lose weight was forced to eat candy bars as his teammates worked out.

- A former staff member was quoted as saying: “I would never, ever, ever allow my child to be coached there.”

- A former defensive lineman, who ended up transferring summed up his experience at Maryland, “They did go by the philosophy of balls to the wall. Push to the extreme? That was an everyday thing. I’ve seen him get physical with guys sometimes, throw objects at guys sometimes.”

- A current player added: “They usually target and pick a couple people they think are soft and go after them…. Durkin and Court feed off each other. I would say Court is as much responsible for the culture as Durkin.”

Durkin was put on paid administrative leave following this report, on August 11.

Court ended up resigning on August 14, yet was paid out 2/3rds of his remaining contract (approximately $315 000).

Then, after an extensive investigation by the university, the Board of Regents ruled on October 30 that Durkin was found not liable, and as a result, would be allowed to coach the team again, despite claims from an external investigation showing that the President Wallace Loh failed to control both the athletic department and the abuse allegations. 

The investigation also claims that former Athletic Director (AD), Kevin Anderson, helped foster a dysfunctional environment rooted by infighting from the utter disregard for accountability, and that current AD Damon Evans had a rift that led to utter chaos within the administrative structure of the university athletic department. Claims continue that Court was not held accountable for his persistent terrorizing of players.

The next day after a searing crucifixion by the media on their decision, the board reversed it, and decided to fire Durkin.

According to Maryland University’s website, The Board of Regents consists of 17 members, including one full time student; their role is to “oversee the system’s academic, administrative and financial operations: formulate policy; and appoint the USM chancellor and presidents of the systems 12 institutions”. They are akin to StFX’s Board of Governors.

Similarly, StFX’s administration admittedly mishandled the sexual assault case brought forth last month, which has made the administrative deficiencies between the two universities quite notable.

From the public perspective, along with students, athletes and other teachers, Durkin should have been fired instantly.

StFX should have issued an apology and warning to the victim that her assailant was returning to campus.

Marty McNair, Jordan’s father, upon hearing that Durkin was initially returning to coach, issued this haunting quote.

“I felt like I’ve been punched in the stomach and somebody spit in my face.”

I can only assume this is what the victim from STFX felt, having horrifically seen her assaulter back on campus, and was unbeknownst of his re-entry into university.

Of course, I am by no means intending to directly or unilaterally compare Maryland and StFX’s recent issues, as they were different in their scope and complexity.

Perhaps a comparison to Baylor University’s football scandal in 2016 is better suited, where they were reported to have consistently covered up claims of sexual assault by the football players. These cover ups stretched as early as 2012.

Or maybe another comparison is the 2011 Penn State child sex abuse cover up. Where Jerry Sandusky, former assistant for the football team, methodically groomed and abused children from 1994 to 2009. The president, vice president, AD and head coach were all indicted on charges of failure to report these heinous acts.

Consider last year’s USA Gymnastics scandal, involving Larry Nassar, where Michigan State University’s gymnastics coach was reported to have pressured former athletes to stay quiet about claims of Nassar.

What has been made clear is the routinized negligence by administrations that would rather protect the institution, instead of the individuals affected. It sets a dangerous rhetoric for future occurrences.

Contrary to titles and recognition, not all universities have a power structure that relies solely on the school president. Schools rely on donations from alumni and businesses to pay for salaries and other expenses. 

Therefore, it is not hard to understand, for many schools, why football teams have boosters. These boosters provide a lot of money to the athletic programs, and as a result, have the power to pressure administrative staff to decisions that are not morally right.

In Maryland, President Loh was not immune to the impact of the boosters. He reportedly had an ultimatum given to him by the board: reinstate Durkin, or be fired.

Even though Durkin was fired, it was without ‘cause’, and as a result, he will be paid out his remaining salary on his contract ($5.5 million). 

Dangerous rhetoric indeed.

 
 

The Best Stories Live in Hell

Tips on how to write good drama and more from Lawrence Hill

Renowned novelist and screenwriter Lawrence Hill spoke in Schwartz auditorium on Friday, October 19. Hill opened by speaking of the latest novel the professor of creative writing at Guelph University is currently writing. The release date of his book, announced to be titled Midnight Men at the event, has yet to be made official.

Hill was warmly welcomed to the stage by Kalista Desmond and the Strait Regional Drummers band. Desmond performed some new spoken word. A particularly moving line was “#powerfulnotpowerless”       encouraging women to own their empowerment. 

The drum group led by Morgan Gero performed three songs. Gero left her seat to distribute instruments to colleagues in the audience for a collaborative performance while her skilled drummers held the rhythm. Drummer Isaiah Williams spoke with The Xaverian Weekly post-show. Williams spoke about his favorite moment on Friday night, “I liked when I played the drums to welcome him here. One of the songs we played tonight was ‘Fonga’.” 

Hill made the point of showing his appreciation for the drumming performance. Williams, who has been drumming for two years, remembers how after their performance, “Lawrence said it reminded him of drumming he heard when he was in West Africa and being welcomed to villages.” 

 During his time at the lectern, Hill read excerpts from The Book of Negroes and spoke in detail about imagery and other realistic or fictional literary elements in the novel. One thing he mentioned was that the novel is not about slavery; it is about the resilience of a woman. 

During the question and answer period, Hill said that while his parents were not thrilled he desired to become a writer, they were instrumental in his upbringing as an author. 

Referring to some of the nonsense poetry that his mother read to him as a child, Lawrence recited from memory the first verse of “Disobedience” by A. A. Milne to a laughing audience.

Y and I.jpeg

Williams asked Hill how long it took to write The Book of Negroes. Hill answered, “It took me five years. I rewrote the book eight times. That’s not as ridiculous as it sounds. To spend the time researching, writing, and rewriting, editing, rereading, and publishing over five years before I was satisfied. 

“I wrote some other books along the way, it wasn’t the only one I did. Most writers have to do two or three different kinds of writing at a time to get money. Sometimes things you really care about that are really difficult take time. You have to let them gestate. Let them have the time that they need and they will take over from there. You are ill-advised to rush something if it’s coming along well. If you give it some time, it has a chance to get better. 

By the way, unless you’re born with the genius of Mozart, chances are the first time you write something it’ll stink. That means you have to write it again, again, and again until it’s good. One of the reasons The Book of Negroes took five years is because it was so bad the first time. You have to keep working on it. Thank you for your question and your drumming.” 

Emcees Addy Strickland and Rebecca Mesay brought the event to a close by asking Williams to come back on stage for the presentation of a gift to Hill. 

The author stuck around post-show to meet the audience and sign everything from books to a case for glasses. 

Prior to speaking publicly at StFX in the evening, Hill spoke privately at Dr. John Hugh Gillis high school with 80 students from neighbouring high schools in the morning. The intimate student-led discussion was held with students who had read and researched a novel of his in the classroom. 

Even though Hill has travelled back home to Ontario, his authenticity and wisdom remain cherished in the community.

Jeremy Dutcher is a Leader of Indigenous Renaissance

Tobique First Nation brings the prestigious Polaris Music Prize home

Jeremy Dutcher takes home the 2018 Polaris Music Prize award and declares the nation is in the middle of an Indigenous renaissance. The musician, who grew up in Tobique First Nation, is at the forefront of this renaissance having contributed what is arguably the most notable Canadian album of the year. 

Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa is the name of the album that has swept the nation off its feet. The album preserves and revitalizes a fragment of Indigenous culture in the voice and piano playing of a classically trained operatic tenor. 

dutcher2.jpg

The name of Dutcher’s album translates to Our Maliseet Songs. The vocals and melodies feature Dutcher’s singing and musical interpretation of wax cylinder recordings from over a century ago.  

Dutcher studied 110-year-old wax cylinder recordings of his ancestors that were kept at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Québec. The recordings were preserved by anthropologist William H. Mechling who lived with the community for seven years between 1907 and 1914. On top of recording songs, jokes, dialogues and various social interactions between the Wolastoq people in wax phonograph cylinders, the following photograph was taken by Mechling at Tobique in 1911. 

While speaking with Exclaim!, Dutcher admits that more than 20 percent of 100 songs had deteriorated to the point of being indecipherable. Most had been forgotten by his community, due to lack of access to the materials since the Indian Act of 1876.

The language of the Wolastoqiyik, whose ancestral territory is all along what is now known as the Saint John River in New Brunswick, is now spoken by fewer than a hundred fluent speakers. 

Dutcher is a graduate of Dalhousie University with a BA in Music and Social Anthropology. Research for Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa had begun long before graduation from the program in 2012. Respected elder Maggie Paul inspired Dutcher to pursue the transcription of these cylinders which eventually developed into the studio album.

Chief of Tobique First Nation, Ross Pearle, commended Jeremy for preserving the language of the Wolastoqiyik, “The chief, council and community of Neqotkuk are very proud of Jeremy receiving the Polaris award. Taking wax recordings in our maliseet language that survived the years of forced assimilation of our people and adding his musical talent to showcase internationally is very admirable. Jeremy deserves this recognition for all his hard work.”

Dutcher’s talent is reaching audiences all over the globe. After the traveling musician played the Halifax Pop Explosion at The Marquee Ballroom in Halifax on October 17, Dutcher took flight to Las Palmas, Spain to play at The World Music Expo (WOMEX). 

WOMEX is the biggest conference of the global music scene attended by thousands of professionals in the field. There is a trade fair, talks, films, a showcase festival at each annual conference. 

Over 2,600 professionals (including 303 performing artists) come together every October from more than 90 countries, making WOMEX not only the number one networking platform for the world music industry, but also the most diverse music meeting worldwide.

A collaboration with pop artist Casey MQ led to the “Pomok Naka Poktoinskwes” remix of Dutcher’s water rights’ anthem. MQ’s spin on the tune has a much faster electronic beat. While it honours the precedent, it strays away from the mellow distinguished piano and powerful vocals of Dutcher. 

The Polaris Music Prize was last won in 2016 by Colombian-Canadian electronic musician Lido Pimienta and in 2017 by Louis Kevin Celestin who is a Haitian-Canadian DJ and record producer. Dutcher’s victory harkens back to the 2015 Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Power In The Blood win. Dutcher’s album is up to par with the albums of these greats and available for purchase at Sunrise Records, iTunes and Spotify. 

Winners: The Noble and Ignoble

A rundown of this years prestigious and zany research

Each year there are two organizations who dive into the wide world of academics and published research and draw from the very wide and wooly world of research, nominate a number of people and teams, and then award prizes to most deserving people or teams of people. This year is no different. The best and strangest minds have been revealed by each committee, so let’s get started with the strange.

Founded in 1991 by editor Marc Abraham of Annals of Improbable Research, this magazine is dedicated to finding the humour and satire inherent in the world of science. Before the list of Ig Nobel winners is revealed, it must be stressed that not all winners are contributing useless science, sometimes, it is the route or the way that scientists uncover their data that is the laughable aspect. Indeed, at least one Ig Nobel prize winner would later go on to win their own Nobel Prize; first for levitating a frog, second for advances in graphene research.

Medicine - Marc Mitchell and David Wartinger for research on rollercoasters and passing kidney stones.

 

Anthropology - Tomas Persson, Gabriela-Alina Sauciuc, and Elainie Madsen for their research on how well zoo-housed chimpanzees imitate humans (conclusion: just as well as humans who imitate chimpanzees).

 

Biology - Paul Becher, Sebastien Lebreton, Erika Wallin, Erik Hedenstrom, Felipe Borrero-Echeverry, Marie Bengtsson, Volker Jorger, and Peter Witzgall for discovering that wine experts can accurately smell if a fly has fallen into their wine.

 

Chemistry - Paula Romão, Adília Alarcão and the late César Viana, after discovering how well human saliva works as a cleaning agent (conclusion, not too bad!).

 

Medical Education - Akira Horiuchi for researching the efficacy of sitting colonoscopies through self-colonoscopizing.

 

Literature - Thea Blackler, Rafael Gomez, Vesna Popovic and M. Helen Thompson for their discovery that for people who use complicated products “Life is too Short to RTFM…”

 

Nutrition - James Cole for discovering that a cannibalistic diet is calorically deficient compared to other meats.

 

Peace - Francisco Alonso, Cristina Esteban, Andrea Serge, Maria-Luisa Ballestar, Jaime Sanmartín, Constanza Calatayud, and Beatriz Alamar for their research on swearing while driving.

 

Reproductive Medicine - John Barry, Bruce Blank, and Michel Boileau for their committed work on measuring nocturnal penis function through the use of postage stamps.

 

Economics - Lindie Hanyu Liang, Douglas Brown, Huiwen Lian, Samuel Hanig, D. Lance Ferris, and Lisa Keeping for researching the efficacy of using voodoo dolls in the workplace to retaliate against bosses (conclusion: it might help the victim, but they don’t recommend it).

 

Further information on the Ig Nobel Prize can be found at www.improbable.com

 

            The Nobel Prize, in contrast, was created by inventor of dynamite, who created the explosive after witnessing the disastrous effects of unstable explosives, like nitroglycerine, which killed some of his associates. Later in life, Alfred had the experience of reading his own obituary in the newspaper, in which he was labelled a “Merchant of Death,” for his work in armaments manufacture. Since 1900 the Nobel Foundation (split between Sweden and Norway) has awarded the prizes below (except the economics prize which was created in the 1960s, although with some controversy, perhaps most notable by a living relative of Alfred Nobel, and human rights lawyer, who claimed that the Nobel Prize in Economics is a “PR coup by economists to improve their reputation”).

 

Physics - Arthur Ashkin, Gérard Mourou, Donna Stickland for their inventions and groundbreaking work related to the use and study of lasers. While this may seem quite staid, Ashkin’s work allowed lasers to be used to precisely move and hold molecules and even small bacteria. While Mourou and Strickland discovered the method by a which high-frequency laser could pulse in extremely short pulses without destroying the materials that make a laser work. Combining these two discoveries unlocked the massive potential of lasers, so much so that they seem quite commonplace today.

Additionally, Strickland, a Canadian, is the first woman since 1963, and the third woman ever, to receive the Nobel Prize in Physics.

 

Chemistry - Awarded to Frances Arnold, George Smith, and Sir Gregory Winter. Arnold directed the evolution of enzymes to become better, more efficient catalysts in certain chemical reactions and has led to more environmentally friendly methods of generating biofuels. Smith and Sir Winter directed phages to evolve in new ways to develop new antibodies against different diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis and metastatic cancer.

 

Medicine - James Allison and Tasuku Honjo shared this year’s prize in medicine for their discovery in the ability to inhibit “negative-immune regulation,” which is a way which cancer cells stop certain white blood cells from attacking them. by inhibiting their “immune negative” abilities they open cancer up to be attacked like regular viruses or bacteria would be. It should be noted, however, that this therapy has only efficacy over some types of cancer and side effects can be severe. Regardless, their research is widely considered groundbreaking.

 

Literature - This Nobel Prize will not be awarded this year following a series of scandals, not the least of which includes, financial malfeasance, infighting, confidentiality leaks, resignations, and most seriously, accusations of sexual assault. The crisis stems from one of the members of the committee, Katrina Frostenson and her husband, Jean-Claude Arnault, being accused of leaking names of the nominees to friends and relatives in order to profit from placing bets. Furthermore, Arnault has been convicted of rape after 18 different women accused him of sexual misconduct in both France and Sweden, though he has appealed the verdict.

 

Peace - Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad have jointly won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize for their continued efforts to “end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflicts” around the world. Denis has used his position as a doctor to bring awareness to the terrible use of sexual violence in the conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, condemning the DRC government as failing to do enough to put an end to the use of sexual violence in conflicts. His activism has put his family at risk and he has fled the Congo for Europe with his family.

 

Since 2015, Nadia Murad has spoken out about the extreme abuses and sexual violence visited upon women by soldiers of ISIS after having been captured, enslaved, tortured, and repeatedly raped herself, only escaping with the help of sympathetic neighbours who helped smuggle her out of ISIS territory. She was the first person to ever brief the United Nations Security Council on the issue of human trafficking, in which ISIS has even used social media platforms, like Facebook, as slave marketplaces that still exist. She has moved to Germany and continues to fear for her safety for her activism against human trafficking and sexual violence in conflicts.

 

Economics - Despite the desire by Swedish Foreign Ministers, Kjell-Olof Feldt and Gunnar Myrdal, for the prize in economics to be abolished for having been awarded to “reactionaries as Hayek (and afterwards Milton Friedman),” the prize has been awarded one again this year to William Nordhaus and Paul Romer.

Nordhaus won for his work on integrating climate change in to economic models, and who has tirelessly been trying to alert governments to the dangers of climate change to economies, and the efficacy of carbon-pricing in reducing the release of carbon emissions.

Romer was awarded the other half of this Nobel Prize for his work in researching the motivations of innovation and the effects that limit or promote innovation funding that arise from within a nation’s economy.