An era ends with last shipment of wheat aid to China

For 45 years, China has turned to Canadian wheat to help alleviate hunger among its impoverished millions, reported The Globe and Mail April 7. But the shipment that was due to arrive in China Thursday was the final delivery of food aid from the World Food Program, the United Nations agency that distributes food from Canada and other countries. From now on, China will be exclusively a donor of food aid, rather than a recipient. It symbolizes a new era for the country and the end of Canada’s official role in donating food to what is now the world’s fastest-growing economy. “The vast majority of Chinese never knew that they were getting Canadian wheat,” said Bernie Frolic, director of York’s Asia Business Management Program and a leading expert on Canada’s relations with China. “A few Chinese officials did know, and they expressed their gratitude.”

Companies smart to diversify ranks

Procter & Gamble Co. employees in Toronto and elsewhere celebrated their diversity yesterday with jerk pork, samosas, Romanian meatballs – and, playfully, Fruit To Go from the gay, bisexual, lesbian and transgendered employees booth, reported The Globe and Mail April 7. Alan Middleton, a marketing professor at York’s Schulich School of Business, said yesterday that diversity is now “a hot topic” with Procter & Gamble and other major employers – although the executive ranks are still typically white and male. Procter & Gamble said Wednesday that it has made progress in diversifying the make-up of its senior ranks, although did not provide statistics. Middleton said P & G is moving in the right direction and can only benefit from its efforts to recruit employees from varied backgrounds. “I’d regard it as an essential way of surviving doing business in Canada today,” said Middleton, who cautioned that P & G and other companies have to guard against stereotyping in their efforts to target ethnic or cultural groups.

India honours novelist who wrote about breast cancer

York alumna Jayashree Thatte-Bhat (MSc ´75), a Calgarian whose novel inspired the first cancer support centre to be set up in the Indian province of Maharashtra, was one of 25 Indian women feted as “Chaturastra Chatura,” an award for being “a well-rounded intelligent woman,” by the Maharashtra government, media conglomerate Indian Express Group and the provincial daily newspaper, reported The Calgary Herald April 7.

Thatte-Bhat, who moved to Canada 36 years ago and settled in Calgary in 1979, is famous in India for three books she wrote in her mother tongue of Marathi. They weave together current scientific research on topics such as genetic cloning and breast cancer with fictionalized accounts of how people deal with these issues in their lives. The breast cancer book is going into its third printing, which means it has sold more than 100,000 copies. The science in them is so up-to-date that “colleges want to keep these books in their science libraries,” Thatte-Bhat’s publisher told her. In the past five years, Thatte-Bhat has begun to visit India regularly to lecture on science and technology, especially to women’s groups. “I was amazed at the lack of awareness about breast cancer,” said Thatte-Bhat, 55.

The return of Moses to song

David Moses is returning to his roots – in more ways than one – with a new single celebrating a singular event in the history of Six Nations, reported The Expositor in Brantford. The 51-year-old, who earned a fine arts degree in theatre from York in 1990, is an admittedly late bloomer, who has overcome personal challenges to forge a successful career as a journalist, and now, as owner of an audio and visual recording studio to be based at the Woodland Cultural Centre. A member of the Six Nations, he was raised to ignore his Delaware heritage. And, for almost half his life, Moses has repressed inner longings to express himself through song. “(Music) is what makes me feel alive. This is what pushes me,” he said. Fittingly, Moses’ first foray into recording his own songs explores a legend he covered as a news reporter for Six Nations radio station CKRZ in Grand River. It’s the bizarre tale of a so-called Monkey Dog spotted on a reserve in the spring and summer of 1998.

On air

  • Sociologist Noreen Pupo, director of York’s Centre for Research on Work and Society, talked about the unusual work arrangements experienced by the working poor and how the retail industry is riding the trend of contract, temporary and part-time work to staff its stores, on CBC Radio’s “Ottawa Morning” April 6.
  • Michiel Horn, a history professor at York’s Glendon College and author of Academic Freedom in Canada: A History, participated in a group discussion on TVO’s “More to Life” April 6 about whether academics should be allowed to freely speak their mind or should respect certain societal boundaries. The discussion was triggered by the uproar over a suggestion by Harvard University President Lawrence H. Summers that the low number of female professors in science and engineering can be in part attributed to a different intrinsic aptitude.
  • John Paul II “opened a door in saying that people of faith have something to say to each other,” said Rachel Turkiniecz, a professor of Jewish education at York University, during a Vision TV panel discussion on the Pope’s interfaith legacy April 6.
  • York University is organizing car pools as a TTC strike looms, reported CHUM-FM “News” April 6.
  • Transit advocates and some TTC commissioners argue that Toronto should give up on the idea of building a subway line to York, reported CBC Radio “News” April 6.
  • A “CTV News” interview with Pat Lakin-Thomas, a biology professor from York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, about how to feel less tired following Daylight Saving Time was aired April 5 and 6 on CTV affiliates throughout northern Ontario and across Canada.