York grad takes politics back to the theatrical spectrum

York alumna Wendy Lill (BA ‘71) is a rare exception: a playwright who is also a politician, wrote the National Post Jan. 8. Her latest play, Chimera (pronounced ky-MIR-uh), which opened at the Tarragon Theatre in Toronto Jan. 2, explores the debate surrounding stem cell research. Lill’s plays have always been known for their political content. Her efforts have been nominated for the Governor General’s award four times.

Though Lill has always had more than a passing interest in politics (she has an undergraduate degree from York University in political science), the written word has always been her preferred medium. "I’ve always been political," she says. "I was always involved in my community, but it wasn’t my intent to enter the world of electoral politics." She never even considered that possibility until 1997, when she was asked to represent the NDP in Dartmouth, NS. She ran and won ("That was the shocker!" she laughs), and playwriting took a back seat to Parliament Hill for a few years.

Sex tourism is prostitution by another name

When it comes to the phenomenon known as sex tourism, scholars agree on one thing: female sex tourism is common enough and big enough to merit serious academic attention, wrote The Gazette (Montreal) Jan. 6. By some estimates, 600,000 Western women have engaged in travel sex sometime over the last 25 years. "Seeing it in operation, it’s quite a phenomenon – there’s a whole system," said Professor Kamala Kempadoo, an expert on the global sex-trade who teaches in the Division of Social Science in York’s Faculty of Arts. Of Guyanese descent, she did field work on female sex tourism in Negril in 2000 and 2001.

"It’s not just women on the beach, it’s the nightlife. You go to a party and see couple after couple of older, quite substantial – I mean overweight – white women with very young, very lithe black men," Kempadoo said. "It’s quite a curious thing…. People say that because it’s not hard-core prostitution, women having sex with the locals is acceptable," said Kempadoo. "But they’re actually so similar in their practices, that I don’t think one is more acceptable than the other."

Her healthy scepticism started at York

Former York student Cathy Dueck’s environmental scepticism got a boost during her first year at York, where she was required to take a biology course, wrote the Peterborough Examiner Jan. 6. "That was when I took a course in environmental pollution which really opened my eyes," she says.

When she and a friend from York bought a large property near Peterborough she decided to make it her home, using timber from the land to build a log cabin that was ready for Dueck and her then-partner to move into by 1979. For the first 10 years of life in the cabin, Dueck, her partner and two children – son Kyle and daughter Kait – lived “off-grid”, without a hydro hookup.

"I was very aware of negative impacts about all our sources of energy," she says, "particularly nuclear and the legacy we’re leaving for our children, and I thought, ‘Well, if I don’t need to add to that problem – if I can live a wholesome, full life without that – then why not try it?’" In the end, the reason for hooking up to hydro was the same as living off-grid: the health of the children.

Women’s ball tryout at Frozen Ropes

When York alumna Samantha Magalas (BA ‘05) walked into her first national team baseball tryout, she didn’t have to worry about trying to wrestle a spot away from a veteran player, wrote The Oakville Beaver Jan. 6. The Burlington resident was a pioneer, one of the players trying out for Canada’s first national women’s baseball team in 2004.

Magalas is now a veteran of two Women’s World Cups and the owner of a pair of bronze medals from the event. While she feels that may give her an edge heading into next week’s open tryout at Frozen Ropes in Oakville, she isn’t taking anything for granted. "The coaches have seen us in game situations and have had ample opportunity to see us play in pressure situations," the 24-year-old said. "But you never know, there could be some top notch player coming in to steal your spot so you’ve got to be on your toes. No one is being given a spot."

Mavor Moore memorial to be held in Victoria

A special memorial event will be held in honour of the Canadian cultural icon Mavor Moore, a former York theatre professor, on Jan. 13 in Victoria, reported CBC.ca News Jan. 5. Moore – the noted actor, director, writer and teacher – died in December at age 87 in Victoria, where he had made his home since the 1980s. Moore’s family and some of the artists and teachers who worked with him will gather at Saturday’s memorial to remember a man who was one of the most influential figures in Canadian culture. York University plans to name an annual lecture series after Moore, because of his long association with the University’s theatre program.

Aboriginal law focus of conference

One of the leading experts on aboriginal law will be the keynote speaker at an upcoming conference on the subject, wrote Kamloops This Week Jan. 7. Kent McNeil, professor in York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, will discuss case law and review recent court decisions at the Aboriginal Title and Rights Law Conference on Feb. 1-2 in Kamloops. McNeil has written extensively on the rights of indigenous people, land claims, hunting, fishing and water rights, and self-government.

Rumour has Collenette heading Ottawa mayor’s LRT task force

With Ottawa Mayor Larry O’Brien expected to announce his transportation task force next week, former Liberal transport minister David Collenette, currently a Distinguished Fellow at York’s Glendon campus, is one name councillors are hearing could head up the group, reported The Ottawa Sun Jan. 6.

Never again means never again

One of the dominant narratives of the 20th century was that of humanity’s collective failure to stand up to evil. In its face of global indifference, however, one group of people consistently raised its voice to demand justice: students, wrote York student Josh Scheinert in a co-authored opinion piece for the Toronto Star Jan. 8. New UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called the situation in Darfur "unacceptable". We are at a critical moment. It is time that Canadian students en masse join together to pressure our government to take concrete steps to bring about an end to the killing in Darfur.

Scheinert, a student at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, is the advocacy and communications director of STAND (Students Taking Action Now: Darfur).