York Arts prof. called as expert witness

Saroj Chawla, a York University sociology professor, was called to testify at a Hamilton man’s murder trial in order to bring some context to the proceedings about arranged marriages in traditional Sikh culture, reported The Spectator Nov. 20. Chawla noted that from ancient times the Judeo-Christian mindset has been, “Thou shalt leave your family and cleave to your wife. But the Sikh tradition is quite different. The daughter-in-law is brought into the husband’s family and becomes a part of his family.” After the daughter-in-law’s husband died of strychnine poisoning she alleged was administered by her husband’s business partner, she said she was told by a disbelieving family not to say anything, and she later feared for her life when she became pregnant by her brother-in-law with whom she was forced to share the same bedroom. Chawla explained that a daughter-in-law is supposed to be obedient and modest. She is expected to abide by the wishes of family elders.

Jesus in our time

“Every generation has to reinterpret Jesus for its own time,” says Tony Michael, an instructor in world religions at York University and the University of Toronto, reports the Toronto Star in a Nov. 20 story on a religion scholars conference. Michael was talking about a Canadian horror film called Jesus Christ, Vampire Hunter, about Jesus coming back to save the world from vampires.

Imperial’s war on tobacco taxes

Advertising expert Alan Middleton, professor at York’s Schulich School of Business, said Imperial Tobacco deserves credit for taking the only approach possible – a media tour – to getting out its message in an industry virtually regulated into silence. “They have one legitimate point,” he told the Toronto Star in an interview printed Nov. 20. “We are acting as a society with a great deal of cowardice on this issue. We moan, quite rightly, about how many people are killed by this product and how health-care costs are driven up by people who smoke a lot. We say we’re going to strip tobacco companies’ ability to conquer new people, yet we don’t ban tobacco.”

First Nations lose billions

Many of the 633 First Nations across Canada oppose Ottawa’s proposed First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management Act, reports Canada News-Wire Nov. 19. The act prescribes fiscal structures aimed at helping First Nations develop economically and be financially independent. But chiefs say it denies them the opportunity to develop and have control over the laws and policies which affect their lives. Meanwhile, says Fred Lazar, professor at York’s Schulich School of Business: “Annual losses for the First Nations from the loss of their land and resources is estimated at $22.5-$26.5 billion, $5 billion plus for income gap, unknown billions for social and health gaps, hundreds of millions for legal costs and $300 million for underpayment of annuities.”

Students design patch for space mission

Graham Huber, Peter Hui and Gigi Lui, a trio of second-year students in the York/Sheridan joint program in design, won an international competition with their proposed design for the crew patches for the space mission, reports The North York Mirror Nov. 17. They also came up with the winning design for MacLean’s personal patch for the mission, during which technicians and engineers will transport and install solar panels on a space station. MacLean, who graduated from York University with an honours physics degree in 1977 and received his doctorate in physics from the school in 1983, pushed hard to have the winning design come from Canada in general and York University in particular.

Pictures that whisper

On Nov. 16 The Globe and Mail’s visual arts columnist Sarah Milroy describes the work of James Welling, currently on exhibit in the Art Gallery of York University: The work of this mystifying American photographer has not been seen in this city since the glory days of the S.L. Simpson Gallery in the nineties, so his return is a most welcome event. Moving between different photographic modes — from representational landscapes to austere photogram abstractions – Welling relentlessly questions the nature of photography in pictures that whisper with subtle melancholy.

Dooley memorial fund

Members of the Jane-Finch community have established the Randal Dooley Memorial Fund at York University, reports the Toronto Star Nov. 18. Three awards of $2,000 each will be given annually to local high school students entering York’s faculty of arts. The seven-year-old died in 1998; his father and stepmother were convicted of second-degree murder earlier this year.

Inventions that shaped 20th century

Farm tractors altered life dramatically but didn’t make the list of the top five inventions of the 20th century because they were invented at the end of the 19th century, reports The Toronto Star Nov. 18. “The 19th century’s inventions became fully realized in the 20th century,” says Steve Bailey, professor of humanities in the information age at York University. “There was the automobile, the telegraph and the telephone.”