York grad wins Governor-General’s Literary Award

Big congrats to Saskatchewan-raised author Ross King, who has just won a well-deserved Governor-General’s Literary Award for his latest non-fiction work, The Judgment of Paris: The Revolutionary Decade That Gave the World Impressionism, wrote a columnist in Regina’s Leader Post Nov. 22. The Judgment of Paris is a rollicking, gossipy account of what was going on in Paris in the 1860s, when an extraordinary conjunction of pent-up artistic energy and circumstances led to the creation of the visual art form that changed the world. It’s nonfiction but it reads like a good novel, wrote columnist Will Chabun. For the record, Ross (who hails from North Portal) attended the University of Regina, then received a PhD in literature in 1992 from York University. He now lives in Britain. Ross’s earlier books include non-fiction Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling and Brunelleschi’s Dome plus two historical novels, Domino and Ex-Libris.

BC to name Turpel-Lafond children’s advocate

A prominent aboriginal judge from Saskatoon is expected to be named British Columbia’s first representative for children and youth, reported The StarPhoenix in Saskatoon Nov. 22. Provincial court Judge Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond was the unanimous choice of a special all-party selection committee that began its search last spring. The first treaty Indian and the first aboriginal woman to serve on the bench in Saskatchewan, Turpel-Lafond was named one of the top 20 Canadian leaders for the 21st century by Time magazine in 1999. She holds a bachelor of arts degree from Carleton University, a 1985 law degree from York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, a master’s degree in international law from the University of Cambridge and a doctorate of law from Harvard. Earlier this year, the Law Society of Saskatchewan named Turpel-Lafond the winner of its Willy Hodgson Award for her work “building bridges between aboriginal and non-aboriginal peoples, based on the teaching of the elders of kindness and respect.”

Canada losing UN votes to have Iran condemned for abuse

Iran came within two votes Tuesday of winning enough United Nations support to throw out a Canadian-led condemnation of its human rights record, which Canadian officials said was getting worse, reported CanWest News Service Nov. 22. What’s interesting is that 103 countries in the United Nations don’t think the horrendous human rights abuses in Iran are worth condemning,” said Anne Bayefsky, Canadian editor of the monitoring group EyeontheUN.org and a Hudson Institute senior fellow who is on leave from York University.

Schulich grad thinks globally

More and more, living beyond our means isn’t about how much money we spend. Rather, it’s a warning that we’re gobbling up natural resources at an unprecedented and dangerous rate. It’s an emerging field that motivated Ashley Hegland to complete his Master of Business Administration, reported The Toronto Sun Nov. 22. “I am and was very passionate about corporate sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) and also recognized that it will be an increasingly important business discipline,” says the 2005 grad of York Unversity’s Schulich School of Business, who chose the renowned school because it integrates sustainability/CSR into its core curriculum. “More importantly, I believe that businesses can reduce their social and environmental impacts and be profitable. In fact, I think that this will be a key success factor for corporations in the future.”

A far cry from Bay Street, yet similar

A young Toronto lawyer shares his six-month work experience in Kenya and his bid to help fight poverty in one African country, in a series of columns that started Nov. 22 in the National Post. Jacob Kojfman, who earned an LLB/MBA in 2003 from York University’s Schulich School of Business and Osgoode Hall Law School, is a small-business adviser for a non-governmental organization. He wrote: “Before this trip to Kenya, the closest I ever got to a business trip was as an articling student, when I took a cab from downtown Toronto to glamorous Aurora to deliver a proposal to a potential client. Now, I have crossed eight time zones, without any idea of where I am going to live for the next six months, hoping someone will be at the airport to meet me, and help me experience the global community first hand. Any utopian notions of working internationally are quickly dissolved in Kenya. I never envisioned walking to work past people selling individual cigarettes or freshly roasted corn on the cob at the side of the road to earn a living. Those are not common sights on Bay Street.”

 Fight director started at York

The Globe and Mail profiled Simon Fon, freelance fight co-ordinator, in its GIG column Nov. 22. Fon, a theatre student at York from 1987 to 1991, told the Globe: “I was first exposed to stage combat in 1987, in my first year of acting at York University. Then I got a job with Canadian Stage, and I did a fight scene with an actor named Philip Akin. ‘Go away for an hour, then show us what you’ve got,’ the director told us. We hammered away at each other using a shield and a jo, a long, wooden staff. When we came back, the cast gave us a standing ovation. After that, I was asked to be the assistant fight director on the film The Swordsman, and to play three villains. You’d be surprised how many shows have a fight director, even to choreograph a few punches – just to make sure everyone’s safe, and to help tell a good story.”

Music prof part of Owen Sound cultural map

In an opinion piece Nov. 22 in in the Owen Sound Sun Times about the city’s decision to create a cultural map, Anne Finlay-Stewart wrote: “The other day a music room at West Hill was packed with singers from teenagers to seniors who came to spend the afternoon together making music with Karen Burke, professor of music at York University and director of the Juno Award-winning Toronto Mass Choir. It gives me goosebumps.”

Law students begin search for summer jobs

Catherine Nowak, 23, a student at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, was interviewed for a Nov. 22 Globe and Mail story about the annual ritual some have begun playfully referring to as “speed dating” week. It’s when corporate firms conduct a flurry of 20-minute, on-campus interviews as a precursor to more formal interviews at the office to fill coveted second-year summer job positions. Nowak told the Globe she estimates she missed the equivalent of eight full days of classes to attend job interviews this term. That included a full day of travel to New York for a meeting with top Wall Street firm Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP as well as two hectic days earlier this month, during which she set the alarm for 6am and didn’t arrive home till about midnight. “I had to skip a lot of school.” Some Bay Street lawyers are fond of quipping that confused students will sometimes forget which firm they’re at during an interview, and Nowak says it nearly happened to her. “The elevator shafts all look the same.”

Prof’s study on ethnoracial inequality cited

In an appeal to Muslim women to reject the niqab, published Nov. 22 in the Globe and Mail, Tarek Fatah cited a report by York University sociologist Michael Ornstein. In the late 1990s, the city of Toronto commissioned Ornstein to study the growing levels of poverty among the city’s racial minorities. His report, Ethno-Racial Inequality in the City of Toronto, was a bombshell. Ornstein laid bare the simmering poverty among minorities in Toronto. He wrote: “Combining all the non-European groups, the family poverty rate is 34.3 per cent, more than twice the figure for the Europeans and Canadians.” The statistics for Muslim communities ranged from 40 per cent to 80 per cent living in poverty.

Executives must practise continuous learning, too

Getting the most out of a senior management role goes beyond clocking long hours, investing in great ideas and making personal sacrifices for the good of the business and your career. It requires immersing yourself in your area of expertise, industry and company citizenship, suggested Stephen Friedman, an executive career coach and trainer who teaches at York’s Schulich School of Business, in his Best Practices column Nov. 22 in the National Post.

Sexy women, dumpy womyn

In response to the Nov. 21 National Post article “From Women, To Womyn, To Women”, Michael Boehlke (BSc ’97), wrote in a letter published Nov. 22: “Not only has the spelling changed, but the uniform as well. As a York University student through the 1990s, I was arguably at the epicentre of Canadian feminist thought. Now my career involves frequent visits to universities. During the ’90s female university students of all sorts wore the baggy, grungy, lumberjack attire.” Now, he continued, “the view has improved dramatically. Females of all sorts, even womyn, dress in feminine colours and their clothes actually fit.” He concluded, “Maybe womyn just got tired of looking dumpy.”

On air

  • York political scientist Robert MacDermid discussed the history of voter fraud in Toronto and the ballot fraud allegations being made between former Ward 8 York West Councillor Peter Li Preti and victor Anthony Perruzza in last week’s municipal elections, on CBC Radio’s “Metro Morning” Nov. 21.
  • Richard Fisher, York’s chief communications officer, told “Global News Morning” Nov. 21 that campus security is on high alert after an alleged sexual assault at Murray Ross Parkway and Sentinel Boulevard on the weekend. Global also aired comments by student Aury Garcia.