By Nick Goodwin
I recently interviewed another participant in “The Remix Project”. His name is Hopeton.
By Nick Goodwin
I recently interviewed another participant in “The Remix Project”. His name is Hopeton.
By Nick Goodwin
I’ve come a long way from being kicked out of my house. My parents and I have managed to rekindle our relationship and these days we see eye-to-eye better than we ever have.
You could say that my first two years out of high school were my least productive. I was definitely a lost individual. High school wasn’t exactly a walk in the park, or more over, was too much park walking if you catch my drift. There were some rough times and I lost a few people close to me in those days.
Here is some background noise from a café that I go to from time-to-time:
By Nick Goodwin
I have begun researching the art of Muay Thai boxing. The reason being is because I have been given the opportunity to create a mural on the wall of a soon-to-be Muay Thai boxing studio. The Remix Project has given me the opportunity to help with the creation of this mural.
So far, I have learned a few basics in regards to the history and importance of Muay Thai boxing. Muay Thai was born in Thailand. The practice of this fighting technique dates way back to a more primal time. It was originally formed as a technique that the people of Thailand could use to defend themselves from neighbouring countries that had the intentions of invasion. One of the most unique factors is that the techniques of Muay Thai have always been passed on orally rather than through documentation or written instruction. There are few written records.
Muay Thai is a large part of Thai culture. Even in times of peace, the military leaders encouraged the practice of these self-defense techniques. In this cultural environment many people choose to make a living through Muay Thai competitively. In some cases of poverty it is some people’s last resort of survival.
Like any sport, over time it has evolved and become a little safer and more commercial. Still, Muay Thai boxing is a part of the Thai culture that continues to affect the whole world.
I am excited to post more details on this subject as my knowledge and experience increases.
By: Kirk Verner
As the first week of summer drifts through Toronto like a lost locomotive, my nose hairs tingle from the smell of rubble. Toronto’s trash is all bagged-up, with nowhere to go. Soon to be towering high over our heads, our trash will have to sit and decompose in our garages, alleys, and on our street corners until yet another city strike is settled.
As this strike rots its way into “Week 2” I decide to roam the streets in the city’s core, seeking the most unsightly of trash heaps.
I find a bus shelter that has been transformed into a wonderful compost pile. Equipped with blackened banana peels, mustard stained napkins, and more rodent droppings than you could find in any grain elevator, this inner-city glass shelter can now become an impeccable greenhouse…how innovative.
A short journey through the alleys of Chinatown reminds me of why I was warned to steer clear of this area of the city during this garbage strike. The smell of rancid sweet and sour ribs hovers in the air. The stench sticks to the graffiti that has been crudely spray-painted on the brick walls. Dead pigeons rest in peace and are clean of maggots due to the endless menu options for the squirming fly larva. The alley reminds me of photos I have seen illustrating the garbage dumps in Rio de Janeiro.
In my own garage, the problem worsens. Although horrid, the smell is not the concern. It is the sight of all I want to rid that really bothers me. It’s the garbage that reminds me of what I once loved, but now want nothing to do with. An old Playboy, the Farrah Fawcett issue, sits menacingly amidst plastic and Styrofoam; photos I will never again be able to look at due to her passing. A “Thriller” album I bought as a joke from a yard sale sits cracked and faded on the ever-growing pile a junk. A Michael Jackson bobble-head with the word “pedophile” finely painted across its chest frightens me every time I open the sliding door. Please take my garbage away!
The strike, I believe, should be a test for Canada’s largest city. Toronto needs to seriously start recycling more in order to tackle this heap of an environmental issue. Why is it always about money? At least a third of the ruin I come across resting on the city streets is most certainly recyclable. What are we going to do about it?
Toronto…a world-class city with third-world garbage issues!?
By Rachel Muenz
There are no shoe design schools in Canada and you can blame that on our climate.
Because of our ever-changing weather, Canadians tend to put function over fashion, according to Sarah Beam-Borg, the assistant curator at Toronto’s Bata Shoe Museum. “North Americans, traditionally, haven’t been sticklers for beautiful manufacture in footwear also because we need so many different kinds of shoes for our climate,” she says.
There’s a saying at the Bata Shoe Museum, Beam-Borg adds. The average Italian is willing to spend up to $500 for a single pair of beautiful shoes and they’ll have about 10 pairs of shoes in their closet.
The average North American will spend about $70 for a fashionable pair of shoes but they’ll have 30 or 40 pairs in their closet.
Canadians need winter boots, summer sandals, footwear for wet weather, shoes for work, and shoes for play. Paying $500 for each pair would put most people in the poorhouse.
As a result, we don’t worry about style so much and Canada has never gained a reputation for fashion.
“We have our own Fashion Week but Canada isn’t really a fashion centre on the world stage,” says Beam-Borg. “It isn’t known for its footwear design or manufacture and never has been.”
Most shoe manufacture is done in China where labour is cheapest and most of the design is done in Italy, seen as one of the major fashion centres of Europe, Beam-Borg says.
There’s also been little interest in shoe design programs here.
Beam-Borg has worked with the Ryerson University fashion department for the last six or seven years doing shoe design competitions with the students. When the competitions were mandatory, 150 students would show up, but as soon as shoe design was made optional, only nine came to compete.
“Unless it’s a course requirement, students aren’t seeking it out,” she says.
As far as Beam-Borg knows, no one has tried to establish a shoe design school or program in Canada and she doubts anyone ever will.
Greg Flood also says no one has tried setting one up in Ontario.
Flood, a spokesman for the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities, says if post-secondary schools in Ontario saw shoe design as necessary, they would submit curriculum and criteria for a shoe program to the ministry for funding.
No such submission has been put forward.
“I’m not aware at the present time about a university or college that has identified shoe design as a need within the province of Ontario,” he says.
But, there is one program that focuses on shoes in Canada and it fits perfectly with the North American desire for needs over style.
It is the post-graduate program in pedorthics at Western University.
Pedorthics involves the making of special shoes and inserts for people with foot injuries or ailments. Those who practice it are called pedorthists.
All aspiring pedorthists must take this program.
“Anybody new now entering into this field must graduate and get a diploma through Western,” says Linda Deschamps, a certified pedorthist and kinesiologist who’s also an instructor in the program.
Before, students did an apprenticeship program which involved three years of work to get certified. Deschamps says the new program is better because it is more objective and faster to finish, taking only one year to complete.
With Canada’s aging population, you would think a single program wouldn’t be enough to keep up with the demand for pedorthists’ skills, but Deschamps says this isn’t so.
“If it was just pedorthists that were dealing with the aging feet, it would not be enough,” she says from her clinic in Kingston, Ontario. “But there are other Allied Health Professionals who also deal with the feet.”
Orthotists, who make custom inserts for shoes, chiropodists, who treat foot diseases and deformities, and podiatrists who also care for the foot, are some of the other professionals helping to deal with the increasing foot problems that come with age.
The program at Western is also open to people all across Canada because the courses are offered online with three work terms in between that can be taken almost anywhere in the country.
It was started by one of the first Canadian certified pedorthists, the late Howard Fiegel, and is in its fifth year. Only about 20 students are accepted and around 12 to 20 graduate each year. But, there are advantages to staying small.
“They’re not high numbers from our course but these are very strong students who help another clinic along the way and eventually open up their own,” Deschamps says. “We could take more but those are the numbers that appear to be good candidates.”
She says the program is growing slowly because pedorthics is not a well-known field, having only been in Canada for about 30 years. There are now around 400 pedorthists registered with the Pedorthic Association of Canada.
This slow growth does have its positives though.
“In some ways it’s a very good thing because we have control over the students that come through and the product that leaves in the end,” Deschamps says.
She expects the program will expand to another university in the future, possibly in western Canada, but says it probably won’t get bigger than that.
Also, a second program isn’t likely to open soon.
“There’s only one program because of numbers, because of financing, because of the need at this point,” says the pedorthist, who was certified 17 years ago through an apprenticeship. “We’ve looked into it, [. . . ] but at this point, numbers are only dictating the need for one.”
There are negatives to those low numbers as well.
“If we had larger numbers applying, of course, it would allow us to open more doors and offer more because, financially, we would be more feasible as well,” Deschamps says.
Overall, she says the program is a great one to be in.
“It’s a very strong, young program,” Deschamps says.
As for Canadians interested in the fashion side, there are still options.
Beam-Borg says people usually go to schools in other countries, such as Cordwainers, a shoe design school in London, England.
“You go where the best education is and [. . .], Canada’s never been a traditional place for shoe design or shoe manufacture,” she says.
But she agrees it is difficult for people who don’t have a lot of money to afford the cost of a foreign education. The one-year, post-graduate shoe design program at the Fashion Institute of Design and Marketing in California costs $30,000 in tuition.
“If you can’t afford to go then perhaps you can’t be a shoe designer, which sociologically is a problem, absolutely,” Beam-Borg says. “But I think if you have the skill, a lot of people also get bursaries and grants.”
Many people could also take a fashion illustrations program in Canada and then get into shoe design by gaining experience at a fashion house or shoe design company in the U.S. or Europe, Beam-Borg says. There are three such programs in Toronto at Seneca College, Humber College, and Ryerson.
“If you want to do shoe design, fashion illustration seems to be the quickest way to get into that vein,” Beam-Borg says. “If shoes catch your fancy, odds are really good if you can draw a shirt, you can draw a shoe.”
By Nick Goodwin
Hard work. Sometimes I feel that I know the definition of it. Truly, I do not. I have the vision of where I want to be with my successes. This is what sets the tone for how hard I must work. Lately I am coming to discover just how much work is involved with reaching your goals. Endless efforts.
My plan is to stay organized. I am able to think a lot more clearly if everything around me in my life is taken care of. However, it is impossible to live a completely stress-free life. When you are meticulous, little things can throw you off. When you are careless, things build up and the stress is there in an overwhelming sense. It will be there. The only thing you can do is accepting the bad with the good.
So, before I get sucked into my little world of computer graphics and illustrations I plan to make sure my life is in order and organized. If I do this, getting down to business will feel more like a privilege as well as I will have a clear focus when I am ready to crack down on the task(s) at hand.
There are lots to keep a busy person motivated. I think the true challenge is being able to focus on “the now” and still feel motivated by the prize at the end of the road. I see people around me feeling overwhelmed by their work and I sometimes doubt their approach. I have faith in their ability to eventually overcome their state of distress and of course I admire their strength to not quit. The art of working hard and living stress-free is something I will continue to try and understand as well as master.
By Rachel Muenz
Most people in Toronto put on high-heels, polished oxfords or running shoes when they go to work. Matthew Wright puts on a pair of tabi.
Tabi are a traditional type of shoe worn in Japan mainly for festivals and are essentially like mittens for your feet, keeping the big toe separate from the rest of your toes. They also happen to be the favoured footwear of ninjas.
Wright has been making training tools and fixing swords for people who practise ninjutsu for about three years.
“I’m very lucky with my profession that I get to say I’m a full-time professional ninja,” he says. “It’s very awesome.”
He says he finds wearing regular clothes strange because he is used to wearing his ninjutsu uniform all the time at work.
“When I go out, I feel I’m putting the costume on. I put the jeans on. I put a shirt on and I look in the mirror and I think I look very funny,” says Wright, who has practised ninjutsu for two years. “I don’t put Gators on, I put my tabi on.”
The shoes look cool but there is more to them than that.
Greg Tremblay, a full-time ninjutsu instructor at Kageyama Dojo in western Toronto also wears tabi every day to work. He says these unique shoes give a ninja’s balance a boost with their split-toe design.
“The big toe is absolutely of prime importance for balance,” Tremblay says, tugging on his own toe that is poking through his well-worn tabi. “It’s where all your balance comes from and so having that toe separated from the rest of them adds to that feeling of balance.”
You wouldn’t think so, since the cotton tabi tend to slip, but this actually helps with a ninja’s training, says Tremblay who’s at the rank of seventh dan in ninjutsu and bears the title of Shidoshi.
With Canada’s icy winters, training with tabi help simulate a situation where you might be fighting on a slippery, snowy road, says Tremblay, who opened Kageyama in 1996 and has been doing ninjutsu since the early 80s.
The easy-slide fabric forces ninjas to concentrate on their balance instead of taking it for granted.
Wright agrees cotton tabi improve a ninja’s stability.
“They allow me to grip surfaces that are uneven,” he says from the beige mat in one of the dojo’s training halls. “I can feel the terrain so it allows me to really work on my balance.”
Tabi are also easier to clean than other shoes.
“You can throw these in the washing machine and wash them,” Tremblay says, clapping a hand on his tabi-clad foot. “They’re just kind of like really thick, convenient socks.”
There are also more durable, rubber-soled tabi called jika tabi, which ninjas use mostly for outdoor training. In Japan, this type of tabi is used by construction workers.
Wright says jika tabi are excellent for training on hardwood floors because they grip much better than cloth tabi. Jika tabi also make it easier for him to train with his problem knee.
“With a rubber sole, my foot doesn’t slip so I can really feel where the pressure is on my knee,” Wright says, gesturing to his left leg. “It allows me to have a lot more power and accuracy.”
Some moves can only be done wearing tabi.
Amon Kage, who’s been training in ninjutsu for three years but has only been at Kageyama for a week, says he wears tabi just for one type of strike.
“The only reason I actually use them is because of the toe kick,” Kage says. “That’s the only footwear you can effectively use [for the kick].”
This move is a kick with the big toe to any target on an opponent’s body, says Kage, a literature student at the University of Toronto. The split toe is what allows a ninja to pull it off.
When buying tabi, Wright says he wants ones that don’t bite between his toes but have a seam that fits tightly to his foot. He says he still needs some space in the toe area for movement, but not a lot.
“If there’s too much space . . . it doesn’t hold nicely and it’s like wearing a loose sock and you’re trying to move,” he says, running his hand along his new-looking navy tabi. “It’s just uncomfortable all the time.”
Both Wright and Tremblay say it’s best to buy directly from a supplier rather than the Internet. Tremblay finds it easiest to get his tabi directly from Japan, which he visits often.
He says they cost about $15 to$20 Canadian and the larger sizes are around $30 to$35 and last three to nine months before they wear out, depending on how often they’re used.
If you have to buy tabi over the Internet, asking questions is important to make sure you get the right type and best quality, the two ninjas say.
“Ask if they’re Velcro,” Wright says. “If they’re Velcro that’s usually the first sign that they’re not good tabi.”
High-quality tabi have metal tabs at the back that can be adjusted for a better fit.
While Tremblay wears tabi as often as he can, the navy blue ones for ninjutsu, the black jika tabi for outdoor training, and white ones for doing Japanese archery, he avoids wearing them in public. He wore a pair of rubber tabi similar to rain boots when he went out only once.
“I wore them one time on the subway and everybody noticed,” he says with a smile. “It’s totally not something that a ninja would actually wear because then everybody knows you’re a ninja, right?”
By Nick Goodwin
I wonder if it’s strange that I relate my childhood to movies that I watched as a kid. Or children’s show such as Sesame Street. I guess it’s a good thing. I turned out to be polite, kind, respectful and considerate. Perhaps the creators of these shows had some of our best
interests in mind. It’s the least I could hope for.
I found it interesting the other day when I picked up a plastic bag full of carrots and read the side of the bag. There was an ingredients section listed on this bag of carrots and I wanted to know what
on earth could be added to a bag of carrots so I read in deeper. I was relieved to discover that the only ingredient listed was, of course, carrots. Kind of scary though, that so many of our foods are manmade. Some kids in the world might think that pasta trees or Cheerios plants exist somewhere in the galaxy. Assume not and count out no possibility, on both counts.
I’m 20 years old and at this point in life, the least I can do is try and set an example for people. To live by a code of respect and decency is the least I can do. Truly, it’s the least that all of us can do. Beyond making a living and feeding a family. Beyond politics and laws. People aren’t born to be hostile creatures. You don’t see us with fangs or claws. We weren’t given the tools to be predators. We were given the tools to consider.
We were given the privilege to be opinionated and to build our own stories. Each individual person with a story, a position, an opinion, an up bringing, and a direction.
Starting July 5, 2009 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Isabella and Church Streets in Toronto, I will be offering a writing course costing $40.00 for nine weeks. This special course will also include elements of self-publishing. If you would like to attend the nine-week course, please contact me at: email@example.com ASAP. Space is limited to the first 10 registrants.
By Rachel Muenz
I take off my shoes and socks, roll my pants up to my knees, pull on a pair of thin nylon stockings and put my left foot into what Ken Brubacher calls “the magic box.”
Brubacher is one of only a handful of custom shoemakers left in North America and, once he’s gone, his knowledge would have been lost. Until now.
Brubacher says shoemakers are vanishing partly because the trade is looked down on by the general public and because it is not being passed on to family members, who tend to go to university instead. But, with such a large aging population, there are more foot problems than ever.
Luckily, the box can help.
The “magic box” is the Otabo foot scanner and, in tandem with computer aided design and manufacturing systems and an exhaustive database, is the most sophisticated way of making custom shoes in existence.
Brubacher is showing me how the unit works from his shop, Brubacher Foot Comfort, in Collingwood.
He closes the lid of the box, which has a circular hole on top for my leg.
“It [the scanner] doesn’t like outside light so what we do is bundle the baby up,” Brubacher says, wrapping a blue towel around my knee where it emerges from the box.
He clicks a button on the monitor attached to the box and the scanner emits a high-pitched hum. Cameras move along a track beneath the glass, capturing data from 200,000 points on my foot using laser video technology.
A grey, 3D image of my foot begins to appear onscreen from heel to toe.
Brubacher repeats the process with my right foot and checks the data. There’s a hole in my left foot, which Brubacher says was caused by light.
“If a bit of light got in, and it [the scanner] doesn’t like that, then it will lose a bit of the data in the shaft of your leg,” he says.
Brubacher fills in the missing section with a quick stroke of the mouse, then clicks back to the grey model to show me the hole has disappeared.
A customer’s scans are then sent to the computers on his desk where Brubacher makes some more adjustments before the data is emailed to a factory in Guangzhou, China. Here, a plastic model of each foot, called a last, is made in a CNC milling machine and from those models, near-perfect right and left shoes are made. The shoes are sent back to Collingwood where Brubacher does the finishing touches and makes more adjustments based on feedback from the customer.
“It’s as close to perfection as anything that has ever occurred on the face of the earth, by far,” Brubacher says of shoes made from the scans.
Perfection comes at a price of around $1000 for the shoes, depending on what inserts and fine-tuning are required. But, the grey-haired craftsman says, if it is a case of “it’s either me or the wheelchair,” the shoes are a worthwhile purchase.
The new technology is also helping a small number of shoemakers tackle the public’s growing need for custom shoes by allowing them to serve more customers at a higher speed, says Rob DiFelice, a custom shoemaker in the Niagara region.
“With doing things by means of computers and all this new technology it’s going to totally be able to take over what the shoemaker had done . . . at a faster pace,” says DiFelice whose father taught him shoe repair. “And the product looks beautiful.”
DiFelice says he got into custom shoes because of the huge demand in his area.
Brubacher taught DiFelice how to use the scanner and computer systems in Collingwood and DiFelice still goes there frequently for more training.
He says Brubacher is a very enthusiastic and meticulous teacher.
“You can tell he really loves what he does,” DiFelice says. “He’ll tell me things in his teachings that he’s already told me five times over again.”
“He doesn’t even realize it . . . and he’s as enthused about it as he was from the first time he told me about it,” the younger shoemaker adds. “He likes to make sure you understand what he’s talking about, so he’s very thorough in his teachings too.”
Though Brubacher grew up watching his own father repair shoes, he taught himself how to make shoes and use the scanner and computer systems later on.
“My teacher is fixing my mistakes at night, for free,” he says, looking down his nose. “That’s a stern teacher. You listen to that teacher.”
Brubacher is also passing those teachings on to his daughter, Angela.
She agrees new technology like the foot scanner will replace the dying shoemaker but someone with shoemaking and orthopaedic knowledge and experience, like her father, will still be needed to properly serve those with foot problems. Technology will bring those skills to more people, she says on the phone from the family’s Elmira location.
“It’s much easier for him to teach somebody new, like myself, in a shorter period of time how to use all of that knowledge and the technology,” Angela says.
Brubacher says he’s lost a lot of money investing in the new technology, but he says the greater ability to help people walk in comfort has made up for the loss.
“It’s cost me my fortune but it’s worth it,” he says. “People come in, after the fact and they say, ‘You know, it’s just been an amazing, amazing, miraculous difference.’”
“We’re not dealing with covering up the feet here. We’re dealing with the quality of people’s lives.”
I have most of his albums and he is one of the only performers where I actually had a picture of him up on my wall when I was young. That being…Michael Jackson.
Apparently he suffered a cardiac arrest at 12:20 p.m. this afternoon. I certainly hope he is OK.
I can only imagine the media stir that is going to be created around something like this. I hope rumours do not fly and all kinds of suspicions as to what caused the attack. Let the doctors decide and whether he remains dead or alive – let him rest in peace regardless.
By Nick Goodwin
I’m sitting in my house listening to music and lightning. I’m listening to old school hip hop. I really like the “old school” stuff. I can hear it raining a bit in between songs and the lightning is chiming in
whenever it feels like it.
Last night it was extremely hot in the house. It probably did not help that I boiled a pot of water. It was so hot that I got up from my bed in a sweaty haze to try and pry open my uncooperative window. In the heat of the moment I managed to accidentally rip down my makeshift curtain. The window then began giving me trouble. I woke up this morning to a scene of clothes thrown, furniture moved, and a surprising decrease in temperature! I made a huge mess trying to get my window to cooperate. I ended up saying forget it and sleeping through the heat.
I’m starting to develop some personal goals for the future. My nature is ambitious, however, I am really not a goals-oriented individual. I know what I want and I go for it; not always with a plan.
My mother always criticized me for behaving this way. I often find it easier to write the blueprint as you go rather than before you engage in an experience that will have unpredictable occurrences.
I suppose my theory is more relative to short-term planning. I’m starting to think a little more long-term in my potential goals. If I develop some personal long-term goals that will add to my motivation to be a successful freelance artist as well as provide me with some focus.
By: Rachel Muenz
Before I climbed to the third floor of the North Borden Building on Spadina, I thought tobacco was bad. But now I know that it can be good, depending on how you use it. Tobacco can help students like me get the confidence they need to make their dreams soar.
It is here at the University of Toronto’s First Nations House where I meet Grafton Antone, one of two Aboriginal elders there, to talk about the work he does with students at U of T. In exchange for that information, I must give him a tiny packet of tobacco wrapped in yellow cloth.
Antone explains tobacco is sacred in Aboriginal culture because it is how natives communicate with Creator, their supreme being, when they need guidance.
“The smoke carries our prayers up to Creator and Creator said, ‘if you want anything, just give me a call and here’s my telephone,’ says Antone, holding up a piece of dried tobacco and laughing. This is why elders are given tobacco in exchange for information and counselling. It’s a way of asking for help.
Students can also bring the elders other gifts. Antone shows me the large block of pink salt stone he got from a student earlier that day who told him it came from Pakistan. He turns it in his hands so I can see the hole in the top where a candle can be put inside and lit to make the stone glow.
Just like lighting the salt stone, Antone helps feed the fires of students’ dreams with his booming laugh and encouraging words so they can shine with success.
“I work with people’s dreams and make them happen,” says Antone, who’s been an elder at First Nations House since about the year 2000.
Antone shows me how he does this by asking students questions and learning what their dreams are. Knowing a bit more about students, he can then bounce ideas off them for how they can go about achieving those dreams.
“That’s where we build; we build on our relationship,” Antone says. “We build on our conversations and that’s what I do. I dialogue with you and in dialoguing with you I’m able to work with you.”
But there’s only so much Antone can do to help a student. Overall, the student needs to have a goal and has to want to achieve that goal in order for Antone to give them guidance.
“A bird needs to have a dream to fly,” he says.
Kathy Marsden agrees. She’s been the native counsellor at the Aboriginal Resource Centre at Georgian College in Barrie for the past 12 years.
“If they’re [the students] not internally motivated, nobody can motivate them to change,” Marsden says. “The support services are about empowering, helping them to work things through themselves, not doing things for them.”
Like Antone, Marsden also uses Aboriginal teachings to help native students at the college. Her main way of helping students is by using what she calls “the medicine wheel approach.”
The medicine wheel is another important symbol of most First Nations, though it differs from group to group. It is a wheel divided into four sections: red, black, white, and yellow. The wheel stands for many different things, but Marsden’s counselling methods focus on the four parts of the self the wheel symbolizes: spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental.
Marsden mostly deals with the emotional part in her counselling but she says the four areas overlap.
“If someone’s under emotional stress, it’s affecting them in all those other areas,” she says. “It’s affecting them mentally, so they can’t concentrate on their academics. It’s affecting them physically; oftentimes they can’t sleep, so I don’t just deal with the emotional part.”
Balance is the aim of Marsden’s approach. She has students fill out a medicine wheel chart to show which of the four areas they need to work on. Eating well and getting enough exercise are some of the things she might help a student with in the physical part, while self-confidence issues could be a part of both the emotional and spiritual sections of the wheel.
“Depending on how lengthy the sessions are we may just deal with one specific aspect,” Marsden says. “But that’s OK. If it helps them get on with their lives, then that’s great.”
Helping students with those emotional problems can be hard.
Antone says that every single student that comes to see him is a difficult case in its own way, but it’s especially hard when the student is angry. Surprisingly, to help students get past their anger, he eggs them on to make them angrier.
“Sometimes when people are angry, it sometimes requires you to get a little bit more angry ‘til you realize that maybe that’s not really the right thing,” he says. “They catch themselves, they calm down and then I’m able to talk to them and maybe bring them down the good path.” The good path can mean forgiving people and treating them better instead of being mad, Antone adds.
Marsden agrees that anger shouldn’t be ignored even though most people see it as a negative emotion.
“The way we look at it is, all our emotions are given to us by Creator so we have to honour all those emotions and it’s how we deal with them that counts,” she says.
Smudging ceremonies are also a way that elders and native counsellors might help students deal with stress and other problems.
In his tiny office at First Nations House with the window open a crack, Antone shows me how smudging is done.
He takes a large shell from a table at the back of the room and sprinkles some grey-white sage leaves into it. He lights them on fire and smoke begins to curl up to the ceiling. I sweep the smoke over myself with my hands three or four times as Antone says for me to do. It has a spicy sweet smell and, as Antone says, “it makes you want to start cooking turkey.”
Aboriginals believe everyone has an energy surrounding them. The smoke from the sage or other plants First Nations use in smudging, such as sweetgrass, works like a shower to wash away negative energy, Antone says.
“What it does is it works with the thinking. It’s good for people and it’s supposed to bring understanding and it’s supposed to clear your mind,” he says. “And in the clearing of the mind it gives a new space, a new time, a new beginning for you to be able to walk the future.”
I feel calmer after bathing myself in the sage smoke and wish I had known about smudging during my last set of assignments.
But smudging doesn’t work for everybody.
“You only get out of it what you put into it,” Antone says.
He adds that postsecondary education is a kind of smudging, because by gaining knowledge, the energy around people changes too.
Learning about the Aboriginal worldview helps students with their personal growth, says Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux, an Aboriginal studies professor at the University of Toronto.
Unlike mainstream society, the native viewpoint focuses on the success of everyone as a group rather than the success of one person, Wesley-Esquimaux says.
“When it’s all about you and all you’re concerned about is getting to the top of the game, then you don’t care who you step on,” she says. “Whereas with the Aboriginal worldview it’s not like that, it’s not competitive, it’s about trying to help each other get to a good place.”
By thinking of helping other people instead of just themselves, students not only become better people, they also become part of a community, Wesley-Esquimaux adds. Because of this, they avoid the loneliness and homesickness students often experience when they first get to university or college. Taking part in native community activities like potlucks and feasts means that students gain the support of many people and aren’t left on their own to deal with the transition to university or college.
“They [the students] seem to enjoy the inclusive nature of it. They like being involved in putting together feasts and spending a lot of time with each other,” she says. “They like that part. They don’t feel so isolated.”
Marsden says this idea of community and getting students involved is important at Georgian College as well. Though her counselling services are just for native students, the Aboriginal Resource Centre, like First Nations House, also has events and activities for all students and they have an elder on campus who everyone can visit for help.
“We’re not exclusive, we’re inclusive and that’s a huge factor,” Marsden says.
Changing students’ ways of thinking either through seeing an elder or learning more about Aboriginal culture can help them overcome seemingly impossible challenges at school, Antone says.
“It is not impossible, it’s only the space that you’re sitting in or the environment that you’re engulfed in . . . if we move you over just that much,” he says, holding his hands about an inch apart, “All of a sudden you say, ‘Oh I can see it, I understand it now.”
With a bit of nudging, students see solutions to problems that they were blind to before.
Talking with students and hearing their stories is what Antone enjoys most about working at First Nations House.
“I like to listen to people and I hear their stories. That’s how I can get a story.”
But it also makes him happy when he sees students carrying on what he’s taught them by performing various First Nations ceremonies themselves.
Passing on knowledge is what he really seems to love.
“I changed you,” he says with a laugh. “I smudged you. You’re no longer the same person as you were when you came in here.
You now have an access to the Aboriginal understanding.”
When I first climbed to the third floor of the North Borden Building on Spadina, I was nervous and scared. I didn’t know what First Nations culture was, though I’d read a lot about it.
Now I know a little something, and as I walk away from First Nations House, up the dreary wet street, I’m happy and confident. I know more about who I am.
All because of a little bundle of tobacco wrapped in yellow cloth.
Donna Kakonge has a new book that can bought on the Lulu.com E-store. The site is: http://stores.lulu.com/kakonged. The book is called Listening to Music and features the experience of listening to Erykah Badu, Sting and India.Arie.
By Nick Goodwin
The sun. To tan or not to tan, that is the question. We question the reliance of the o-zone layer, the efficiency of sunscreen, and our ability to take in the nutrients that the sun’s light provides.
For adults everywhere it is common practice to know tomorrow’s approximate weather, however, there is nothing wrong with playing it by ear and looking out the window the day of!
This year I am not worried about getting too much sun. I have all the sunscreen I need. I always dress for comfort, so, in the summer heat that means baggy tee shirts that cover most of my arms as
well as long shorts or pants. If anything, my feet need as much sun as they can get. I also have a thin and comfortable hat that provides me with enough shade to stay less than crispy.
For the past two summers I have been very conscious of the sun’s effect on people. I have been highly motivated to use sunscreen and to see what kinds are out there. My skin requires a non-oily sunscreen with a high SPF. The past summer I was using 70 SPF that was really thick, however, I was working at a kid’s camp and they found it amusing to see me running around with TONS of sunscreen caked all over my face.
For kids it is important that sunscreen be fun. It shouldn’t be a worry. Sunscreen should be common practice and promoted as a positive and important thing rather than a threat of skin destruction if not taken advantage of. There is no harm in educating a child on the importance of it.
Growing up I would often visit my Grandfather. He had a divot on the side of his head shaped like a golf ball. He used to tell me that a golf ball had hit him in the head there. I was eventually told the truth. He told me that he had been burned badly by the sun for not wearing the appropriate sun gear and that part of his face had been badly damaged.
For me it was always an entertaining story to begin with, however, the story had a serious twist that brought a lesson to be learned to my attention. I must admit that this little story is probably the true reason behind my “obsession” with sunscreen. If not entirely, it has at least influenced me to be more careful when a beautiful day comes around and everything becomes carefree.
By Alex Scott
With the passing of time all things change, some for better and some for worse. Not everything that is new is better, and sometimes we lose something tragic. The art of buying music has been all but lost, and it is rather sad to see it go. A visit to the music stores will quickly reveal the dying business, and the endless rows of movies, TV shows, figurines, novelettes, and other such crap they must sling to try and stay alive.
What have we lost? Sure it is much easier to download music these days, if you have enough virus protection and fight your way through the jungle of media available online. Or you can take the noble route and purchase your albums online for a small fee. But buying music online will never be the same as the real thing. What you lose is the essence of music, the indescribable feeling of looking through the work that so many artists have committed their lives to.
I took a trip to the music store recently, a trip down memory lane it seemed to be. It had been quite some time since I had bought a CD, but I was very excited. Maybe I am alone, but to me there is nothing that can replace the way it feels to buy a CD. I will gladly pay more just for the sheer experience. After all, when you compare the cost of a CD to many other things, it really doesn’t cost that much at all. A simple lunch at any burger joint or sandwich shop is over $10, and CD’s are now mostly under $15.
After looking through the racks of music I decided to purchase the Kings Of Leon – Only by the Night. I had only heard one song from them, as they were new to Canada at the time, but the unique vocal sound and the mix of rock and rhythm and soul immediately drew me into the sound. Now they have started tearing up the charts in Canada with 2 songs in the top 30 and you can hear them on the radio, but a small part of me feels like I can be proud that I “discovered” them on my own.
Just the act of buying a CD is exciting. To really hear music you have to commit yourself to it. You need to listen. When you are surfing music on limewire or the apple store you don’t get the same appreciation in 5 or 10 second clips. But when you leave the store and you have invested in the music, then you are truly ready to hear it.
Then you take the time to look over the artwork on the album cover, read the song listings, and when the moment is right you crack open the plastic. That familiar sound of scrunching plastic as you fight the casing, and then you crack open the case and you just can’t wait to pop it in. There is even that smell as you take the disc out, the smell of the printed leaflet that you would recognize anywhere. You almost hold your breath as you slide the disc into the CD player. You don’t know what it is going to be yet, you have no idea what is about to hit you, you are at the top of the rollercoaster just hovering and waiting for the rush to hit you.
As the first few bars of Only by the Night hit my ears I knew this was going to be a fun ride. The haunting melody trickles in slowly, and then the bass follows, and it starts to take a hold of you, and you are immediately, gently but firmly, taken to another place. The first track, Closer, is really one of the best tracks on the album, it sets the tone for the rest of the album perfectly, but it is extremely difficult to pick one favourite on the album. Closer is very slow and melodic, and it makes fantasy seem very real… the song doesn’t tell you where to go; it just lets you get away. The unique style allows you to hear and listen to the lyrics without losing focus on the music, you can read into the lyrics as much or as little as you want, it lets you do the interpreting.
The next track kicks it up a notch with Crawl, a heavier, dirtier sound. More distortion and more rock to it. It’s the kind of song that makes you want to sing out loud and pound the steering wheel with your fists and nod your head with the beat. It’s like the big twisting loop after the free fall you just took in the first track.
The third song is the song that hooked me on Kings of Leon, Sex on Fire. Sometimes you just know, the first time you hear a song, you just have to hear it again. The sound is just so unique and it just makes you feel something deep inside, something you can’t even put your finger on. You don’t know what it is, but everyone can relate to the feelings of longing, of wanting someone or something you just can’t have. Again this song isn’t so much about the lyrics, and certainly not about sex. Sure they are catchy and you will want to sing along, but the lyrics are masterfully in tune with the underlying feeling of the song. This is definitely one song that people will still be listening to ten years from now. From the opening reverberating riffs of the song right to the finish you don’t want this ride to end.
Use Somebody again takes another turn, mixing it up between a gentle beginning focused on the vocal styling of Caleb Followhill and building into a rocking rhythm, and then fading off the way it started. Manhattan is another melodic tune that will stay in your head for days. It is amazing how the album all blends together, each song so unique and different, yet maintaining the same flow and feeling of the whole album. After listening to the album a few times any one of the tracks on the CD can pop into my head at any time, they are all so powerful.
Track 6 is another favourite on the album – Revelry. It starts with pure vocals, slowly laying out the fabric from which the song is woven. “The time we shared it was precious to me, all along I was feeling the revelry.” Once again, Kings of Leon has an amazing ability to take simple lyrics and let the listener run with them, delicately wrapped in a blanket of sound. The vocals really are the highlight in this song, and they provide most of the melody with the guitar and drums playing a backup role.
I don’t even need to go into the rest of the album, suffice it to say that if you listen to the first half of the album, you will enjoy the second half just as much as you enjoyed the first half.
Unlike many albums, it does not fade into hastily composed filler tracks. Notion is another favourite track of mine, taking a more upbeat turn which makes you want to tap your feet to the beat. I Want You slows it down just a little bit again, with lots of soul and longing, and some very curious lyrics that stimulate your imagination.
The last track Cold Desert puts the finishing touches on a wonderful journey. It is the slowest song on the album, and is better for listening to before bed than during a workout, but it really feels like “the end” of the album. If you were listening to this album for the first time and didn’t look at the track listings at all, you would still know the end was near, as it gently fades off. But just as you think it is all over the track comes back for one last encore and finishes strong. It is the kind of finish to a song and the finish to an album that makes you sit in silence afterward, soaking it in, because there isn’t quite anything that can follow it, and the best act to follow it really is silence. That is the precise time and moment that you will know you have listened and heard something amazing, and you will never feel the same again.
There are maybe a dozen or so albums in my life that I have felt so strongly about as the Kings of Leon – Only by the Night, but I am certainly glad I made that trip to the music store. Even though it costs more the experience of music is invaluable to me, and I will always own that disc for the rest of my life to hear over and over again, to pull out of a dusty box 30 years from now and to play it again, to bring me back to this time and place in my life when I first heard it.
There is no doubt in my mind that I will be back at the music store soon… in fact I have my next album already picked out, I am waiting for the release of one of my favourite bands, a Canadian band that started under the name Big Wreck… that’s right, Thornley!
By Nick Goodwin
So far, I have withheld the fact that I am an artist. I draw, paint, write, make music and play sports. My biggest exercise lately has been both graphic design and skateboarding.
The story goes like this. I was told about “The Remix Project” by a friend of mine. He told me he saw a little something about this organization on television. He thought it seemed right down my alley.
By Kirk Verner
Timid lips finally spew jargon.
You have less of an accent than expected.
Racing eyes, rarely locking.
Your fear lies in direct eye-contact.
Crossed arms, your knuckles are white again.
You look like a librarian, neat and gentle.
Your wet palm leaves streaks across the shadows on the table.
A chill in the air shall calm you with time.
I CALLED GIFTY SERBEH-DUNN AS SHE WAS FEEDING HER CAT. HER BOYS WALKED BY THE CAT WITHOUT FEEDING HER. HER BIG BOY IS HER HUSBAND WAYNE DUNN WHO HAS A BUSINESS DEGREE FROM STANFORD. HER SMALL 7-YEAR-OLD BOY IS HER SON KABORÉ. SERBEH-DUNN HAS MANY THINGS TO DO SUCH AS FEEDING HER CAT AND RUNNING A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS SHEA BUTTER MARKET.
by Nicholas Goodwin
I hardly make a decision without thorough consideration. The closest I ever get to stopping time is when I spend the afternoon balancing the pros and cons of my latest dilemma.
I do not live by the saying “look before you leap” to the fullest. I do appreciate living in the moment. I enjoy skateboarding through the heart of the city, or, anywhere for that matter.
Like anything, I try to achieve some sort of balance. Sometimes people say “everything in moderation, including moderation”. If this is the case, then I suppose I’m doing okay.
By Kirk Verner
A thousand worlds.
Stretching from Babylon,
To the mines below.
I love you more than the beauty of flying geese.
Uniform precision, instinctive direction.
More than a flower needs the sky’s rain.
Bright eyes of a daisy, tall and lean.
I love you more than a crypt-keeper’s chest.
Lacklustre exterior, contents that glow.
More than chef’s secret dish.
Encrusted with sugar, spice just a pinch.
A thousand worlds.
Stretching from Babylon,
To the mines below.
By Nicholas Goodwin
I love family. There are fights – sometimes we do something stupid – but still somehow we forgive and forget.
When I say family I don’t mean strict bloodline relations. There are infinite variances of family throughout the universe. A code of loyalty, comfort, inevitable trust, and unconditional love.
When you find your family, you find privilege and purpose and strength. There is no limit, only a comraderie. I can see it in the older members of my family. The understanding of this comraderie and the obvious comfort of company. Something to live for.
The beautiful things flow beyond my comprehension. Simple things that I overlook that come to my attention through observing the examples set by mine.
Bloodlines, friendships, mentors, rivalries, counterparts – anything that brings a family together is a reflection. Good times and the bad. Family.
I just spoke with my Dad the other day and he told me about my Aunt Bettie, his late sister who looked so much like him. Even though she had four children, she was so devoted to her work and received a doctor of science degree from Makerere University.
Makerere University used to t he be only university in East Africa and many of the neighbouring countries’ people such as Somalia, Tanzania and Kenya would study at Markerere. My Dad’s cousin Lydia has done very well with her Makerere degree since she has come to Canada.
by Nicholas Goodwin
Hello. Nicholas Goodwin here. I love hockey, going to the zoo, doing the dishes, skateboarding and I love to chase my dreams.
I am 20 years old. In my life I have seen my tiny world from many angles. I have been inside the window looking out at passers by just as I have been outside looking in. Sometimes I even feel further away from both. What has never changed is my ability to pursue happiness. My ambitious nature, however, keeps me from staying in one place for too long.
I was born in a beautiful suburban neighbourhood where I was raised by two beautiful, loving parents. From birth I was given every privilege. I grew up alongside my younger brother, Josh. We played street hockey, we had water fights. We built forts, we played lego.
A portion of my life’s most powerful privileges are memories triggered by photographs. Just one peek inside any year of my choosing is like selecting a scene on the DVD of my lifetime; with a real connection.
In some cases I would be too young to remember, thus making the privilege of reflection ever more powerful.
The true test is moving forward. The magic of reflection often tempts me to stand still, however, time waits for no man.
My ambitious nature spawns from my desire to be successful, to see a better tomorrow and to share my experiences with many caring individuals.
In a world full of dreamers it is easy to discover through your experience. You can create a powerful moment for future reflection just by living your life and shedding light on your endeavours. In a world full of dreamers it is easy to understand one’s desire to write their own story. I would say that it takes a powerful mind to honestly absorb the true feelings within a storyteller’s experience. On the flip side, it is a team effort. For one to paint a picture so vivid that an audience can potentially understand the portrayed emotion brings forth a distinct challenge.
Four lovely women, a fifth one coming later, volunteered their time on a January afternoon in 1998 to sit down at Salon Utopia and chat about hair. Here are the details of their chat which will hopefully stimulate your own discussions. Read the rest of this entry »
I knew I had a problem seeing far when I would sit really close to the television by about the age of six. Once I reached higher up in the school and I needed to sit at the front of the class to see the chalkboard, glasses were an obvious consequence by time I turned about 12.
At first I did not want to wear glasses, however I found the frames fun. I came across a pair of white ones and would wear them without the lenses, even though I needed still needed to see.
Growing up in the 1980s in the age of the material girl, looking your best was a priority and glasses did not always go with that image. I had not heard of anyone who had received laser eye surgery – I really did not even know what it was.
At first when laser eye surgery came out there were reports about people going blind. Others would say it changed their lives. I decided to just stick with my contacts, no matter how much they bothered me. I did know of some cultural groups who would get surgery to add an eyelid to their eyes. One of my best friends at the time had this surgery.
By time the 1990s rolled around and I was in university, I wore my contacts exclusively. They were one of the biggest pains in the world. I also find that putting in contacts is a skill itself…something that is developed as a skill with practice. When I would revert to my glasses for a time and then go back to contacts, I could not pry my eyes open long enough to put in those tiny, clear, round circles.
I can completely understand why someone would choose to do eye surgery…especially when it comes to issues of vanity and how important it may be when it comes to how they look. This would depend on the career they are in.
I keep wearing my glasses mainly for convenience. When I heard in a news report that contacts are actually bad for your eyes, I started to wear my glasses. Plus I am older now and less affected by concerns surrounding vanity. I have had flashes in the past of considering laser eye surgery; however figure that the money can be better spent in other ways.
Many people will choose cosmetic eye surgery to prevent the signs of aging. Surgical methods can lift the eyes, known as an eyelift as well as smooth the contours under the eyes to make you look younger.
Some cultural groups also get a surgical procedure done to add an eyelid where a significant one was not there before.
Laser eye surgery is used to reverse poor vision back to 20/20. The procedure costs anywhere from $4,000 to $5,000 for both eyes – even less in some cases. Those figures are maximum ballpark ones. Laser eye surgery is relatively unobtrusive for those people who are little squeamish when it comes to knives, needles and blood.
One of the benefits of cosmetic surgery is that it is meant to enhance your existing features. If this is something you would like to consider, perhaps you are tired of your eyeglasses and the way they make you look – or you are simply aiming to look younger because that is a value that you hold dear, then speaking with a cosmetic eye surgeon may be a good choice for you.
Make sure you do your homework to find the right ones. Do your research, ask friends who may recommend someone – check the person out with places like the College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Good luck on your journey to improving your physical beauty.
I had my days when I was in the model world. Weighing in at 118 pounds at the height of 5 feet 10 inches, my model agent once told me that I should lose five pounds at that time.
The main reason why I got into modeling was because a boyfriend of mine was doing it too. I had a lot of fun doing it and when I was in my late teens and early 20s I did not ever think of getting cosmetic surgery – nor did I plan to in the future.
By: Kirk Verner
Death is usually not a topic that dwells in my mind, well at least not the concern for my own faith. The truth is, death is as common a conversation topic as the weather. Talk of violence, gore, and death circles our everyday lives like hungry hyenas, be it in the news, on television, or around a sticky bar in a dank pub downtown in any city.
Death has never really bothered me, likely due to my horror film-of-the-week addiction. Sure, I have lost some important people in my life, but as for being close to death, it’s never happened. I don’t mean myself being close to death, I mean literally being close to someone or somewhere where a death has freshly occurred.
I remember the days when I was young and skinny – they really were not all that long ago. Those days are gone now and it is probably a good thing that I am afraid of knives that keeps me from doing cosmetic surgery.
In general I am happy with the way I look. It is an au naturel look that I strive for, an Earth Goddess kind of thing. At least I tell myself this and it helps me sleep at night so I do not miss being the “hottie” I once was.
There is an expression that “beauty is wasted on the young.” I would say this is absolutely true. All of the beauty I had when I was younger would come in more handy now and be a lot more useful. On the other hand though, I have things like wisdom at my age that I did not have in my teens and in my 20s that is hard to get from a knife.
I do understand why some older people would choose to get plastic surgery to have a look that they feel will give them the competitive edge in the career market. Some occupations really require a certain look. I am glad I am a writer and do not need to worry as much about my appearance. I need to worry more about grammar, spelling and punctuation.
Would I go under the knife? I do not think so. At the end of the day I am just happy that I breathe in and out and I am in a relatively healthy state. I could use some more exercise though and perhaps more soya milk.
Michael Lam, who did his undergraduate degree in engineering at McMaster University, is doing his master’s degree at the Walter G. Booth School of Engineering Practice. This school is also affiliated with McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. His thesis is focusing on product design for people with disabilities.
By Kathy Tapley-Milton
Some people used to complain that the “veterinarians have a license to print money”, but even the vets today are feeling the squeeze of the recession as pet owning customers spend less on grooming, tooth cleaning, stays at kennels, vaccinations, toys, and flea medicine. Tragically, some pet owners who have lost their jobs and their homes cannot afford to pay for their animal companion’s needs anymore and the pets end upon the streets.
Kirk Verner (a.k.a The Somnambulist) goes places so you do not have to. In this podcast he goes deep inside a dangerous mine. Listen to his amazing journey:
By Kathy Tapley-Milton
Are you feeling fatigued and listless and wonder why? Is everything becoming a monumental effort? Fatigue can be caused by millions of things from being stressed out to serious illness. If your doctor has given you a clean bill of health, but you still don’t have any pep, there are lots of natural ways to make you full of vim and vigour.
By Kathy Tapley-Milton
A Gingko tree in Morgantown, U.S.A was planted by Rueben C. Griffitt who was a Union soldier in the Civil War. The tree commemorates the 630 soldiers who died in the notorious Andersonville Prison.
Gingko, a long living memorial, can be planted in most of continental United States, in zones 2 to 9, and some companies sell kits containing everything needed to plant a memorial tree.
Kits can be obtained at: http://www.gifttree.com/p3/6941/Ginkgo_Tree_in_Their_Memory-106.html
Why do you think it is important for women to work together?
Women bring different approaches and perspectives to issues and tasks at the workplace. These have not for the most part been given much opportunity for practical application and recognition in today’s male dominated workplaces. There are still negative and trite stereotypes about the way women work together. More women working together with their successes to show can hopefully help eradicate these stereotypes.
How is working with women different from working with men?
It is hard not to fall into the same problem of stereotyping, so I only speak from my own experiences.
By Duncan Gunputrav
Management is the voluntary control of your self and or a particular situation, to achieve a desired result.
All actions in any situation have a subsequent result (both direct and indirect); even non-action is an action. The right action taken at the wrong time will not have the same result if taken at the right time.
By Duncan Gunputrav
In North America the tendency for most is to have a limited knowledge of countries situated in far reaching parts of the globe. Especially when these nations do not participate in the G8 meetings or are only secretly visited by international celebrities or rarely by heads of state.
The truth is these islands have a rare wealth and beauty. Some would even match some of these areas with paradise, as is the case of Mauritius – the Tiger of the Indian Ocean.