Vaughan hires York chancellor to monitor new city hall construction

Vaughan council has appointed York University chancellor and former Canadian Supreme Court judge Peter deCarteret Cory as a “fairness monitor” to oversee the building of the new $93.5-million civic centre, reported the Toronto Star, July 2. “We are completely confident in our process, but having someone of Mr. Cory’s stature will ensure residents remain confident in the city’s tendering procedures,” Mayor Michael Di Biase said in a statement. The unusual move was taken in an effort to silence critics who have raised questions about the city’s tendering procedures. It will also ensure the construction is done in a “fair and transparent manner,” Di Biase said.

Former dean of Fine Arts celebrates two national holidays

Joe Green, retired dean of York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, celebrated his citizenship for the second time this week, reported The Toronto Sun, July 4. “It’s a working day, but I really get two holidays. I get last Friday and I get July 4,” said Green, who is also the former chairman of Democrats Abroad Canada, referring to Friday’s Canada Day festivities and today’s American Independence Day. Green, a dual citizen since moving to Toronto in 1968, will toasted  his birth country on Monday night at the Consulate General reception at the Canadian Forces Staff College in Toronto. Independence Day brings mixed emotions. “I have very strong feelings about the land of my birth. It’s a combination of weariness in what the Bush administration is doing to the loss of civil liberties, mixed with a bit of hope that this may change,” he said.

Professor’s dogs live in lap of luxury at Muskoka pet resort

Lisa Brooks runs one doggone resort that makes visitors purr with delight, reported The Ottawa Sun, July 4. Her playful guests run, swim, bask in the sun, or just hang out in the lounge complete with fireplace, cosy furniture and television. On a whim, they can opt for a midday snooze or let their imaginations run wild in print painting or pottery-making workshops. An idyllic getaway – but it’s pets she pampers, not people. Kimberley White, social science professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, agrees. “It’s amazing seeing dogs run together, baying excitedly in a pack,” says White, a York University professor who boards Fezziwig and Zuzu, her twin five-year-old otterhounds, for up to two weeks at Happy Tails each summer. “They like it here so much that they’re really sad when I come to pick them up.”

Hot comedian studied theatre at York

Raised in Brampton, fabulous gay comedian Scott Thompson went on to the Toronto comedy scene after studying theatre at York University, reported The Toronto Sun, July 3. In 1984 he became one of the comedy group the Kids in the Hall, winning four Gemini’s with his fellow Kids. Now starring as the wedding fairy on Global’s “My Fabulous Gay Wedding”, Scott Thompson’s got his work cut out for him turning one of today’s most controversial issues into a comedy of errors.

York signs on to new services placement program

Local service providers and students will both be able to benefit from a new placement program organized by the Wellesley Central Health Corporation (WCHC), reported Metroland’s Toronto community news in its North York and Toronto City Centre editions, July 3. The Community-Based Research Series will help social work, nursing and other university students find placements with local agencies. The students will gain valuable hands-on experience and knowledge, while the agencies will benefit from the students’ enthusiasm and eagerness to learn. Thus far, York University, the University of Toronto and Ryerson University have all signed on to the program, giving local service providers a choice between many students. Both agencies and students can narrow their search through an online questionnaire that focuses on their goals, needs and preferences. “We wanted to see what we could do that was different, new and innovative for students,” said Saara Greene, professor and director of field education in Atkinson’s School of Social Work. “A lot of our students have clinical experience and want to do a practicum that has a very social-work-based element. Students will be in a position where they can learn research skills and then attach those skills to community-based work.” York social work graduate Lori Chambers said that after her own experience as a community-based research placement student at AIDS housing network Fife House, she would recommend it to her fellow students. “You realize that what you’re taking in school has applications,” she said. “It’s a great way to contribute to the learning process, build bridges and break down walls. In eight months’ experience, I learned more about research than I did in my courses at York.” She added that she felt service agencies could stand to benefit a great deal from taking on students, most of whom would work on an unpaid basis. “Students love learning, which is why we’re in school,” she said. “You get a lot of enthusiasm from students. We want to help.” The Community-Based Research Series officially kicked off last Friday.

k-os spreads Joyful Rebellion

Former York film & video student k-os isn’t really all that chaotic, reported The Edmonton Journal on July 1. He’s just this nice guy from suburban Ontario (via Trinidad) named Kevin Brereton. He just happens to have a hit song or two, and recently cleaned up at the MuchMusic Video Awards for “Crabbuckit” and “Man I Used to Be.” 

York student mentioned as one of several ground-breaking Islamic women

Friday prayers were conducted by a woman in a mosque for the first time in Canadian history, a move many liberal Muslims are hoping will open the door to greater equality between the sexes in the Islamic community reported The Globe & Mail, July 2. About 100 people sat on the floor of the United Muslim Association mosque in North Etobicoke as Pamela Taylor, co-chair of the New York-based Progressive Muslim Union, led the mixed-gender congregation in prayers and offered a sermon on the importance of equality between races, genders, sexual orientations and persons with disabilities. The story mentioned York student Maryam Mirza, who delivered part of a sermon marking the end of Ramadan at the Etobicoke mosque in November. She did not, however, lead the prayers.

Glendon alum Russell Oliver doubles as Cashman

The Globe & Mail carried a story on July 2 about York alumnus Russell Oliver (BA ’70), the Toronto jewellery buyer, known for his advertisements featuring corny superhero Cashman. In Oliver’s world, cash has always trumped sentiment, and while others may chafe at his methods, he makes no apologies. “I’m not embarrassed about anything,” says the transplanted South African, 58. “I’m never shy and I’m never embarrassed.” That’s hardly a revelation to anyone who has been jolted out of a La-Z-Boy snooze by Oliver’s campy exhortations to trade their unwanted jewellery for cash, topped off with a hearty “Oh, yeah!” Love ’em or hate ’em, the ads – all 40 versions, on which Oliver has spent $5 million in airtime since 1995 – have worked like a solid-gold charm…. Ubiquitous as he is, Cashman is merely the latest entrepreneurial incarnation of Oliver, one of four children of savvy parents who ran, among other things, a circus in South Africa. In 1968, he made his first serious money, and his first trip to the fringes of respectability, when he started an illegal after-hours club. He was studying English at York University (Glendon), but preferred the club to the classroom. “I had the power, the money and anything I wanted,” he says. “That was the happiest time, but the burnout . . . ” He graduated from York and was bound for law school in the fall of 1970, but got sidetracked that summer while working at a jewellery store, upstairs in an office building at Queen and Victoria Streets.

On Air

  • Stephen Cain, English professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, was mentioned on Toronto’s CBC television on June 30, as leader of a walking tour for Toronto’s Scream Literary Festival.
  • A call for Canada’s removal from membership in the G8 by a former advisor to US President Bill Clinton sent reporters looking for a reaction from Bernie Wolf, professor of economics in the Schulich School of Business. His comments were carried on radio in Toronto (CFRB) and Montreal (CJAD) on June 20. Wolf also spoke that same day on Toronto’s CFRB radio and CBC television’s local and national news broadcasts about the new assembly plant Toyota Canada announced it will build in Woodstock.
  • The health of India’s poor was the topic of an interview with Martin Bunch, professor in York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, on CBC Radio’s “Metro Morning”, July 1.
  • Coverage of Saturday’s Live 8 concert included comments by Rob Bowman, music professor in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, on CBC Radio in St. John.
  • Karla Homolka’s release from prison was the topic of the Goldhawk phone-in show on Rogers Television, June 30. The guest was Paul Burstein, adjunct professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School and a criminal lawyer who once represented Homolka’s former husband Paul Bernardo.

  • Akua Acheampong, a part-time York University dance instructor in the Faculty of Fine Arts, joined FM 89.5 CIUT’s “Evi-dance” producer and host Ted Fox on July 3 to talk about York’s brand new course on urban/hip-hop and the dance form.