York alumnus is one of six soldiers killed in Afghanistan blast

A Sarnia-Lambton family lost a son, 37-year-old Cpl. Brent Donald Poland (BA ’92), during Sunday’s bomb explosion in Afghanistan, wrote the Chatham Daily News April 10. The son of Don and Pat Poland of Camlachie, Ont., Poland was one of six soldiers killed. An improvised explosive device detonated near their light armoured vehicle about 75 kilometres west of Kandahar City, in the southeast corner of Afghanistan, stated a Department of Defence press release. Poland was a member of the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment based at CFB Gagetown, NB, as were four of the other soldiers who died.

His brother and fellow York alumnus, Mark Poland (LLM ’05), is a London lawyer who is also a major with the reserves serving with the 31 Canadian Brigade Group headquarters unit in London, wrote the Daily News. He issued a statement on behalf of the family that read in part:

"Brent was our dear son, brother, uncle, nephew and cousin. Brent graduated with a history degree from York University and a media arts degree from Ryerson University. In his thirties, Brent chose to follow his heart and his passion. He enlisted in the Canadian Armed Forces where he volunteered for a career as an infantry soldier."

  • The defence department confirmed Apri 9 that the sixth soldier killed was Cpl. Brent Poland, wrote the Toronto Star April 10. His identity was not released earlier at his family’s request. Family gathered behind closed doors at the home of Poland’s parents on the shores of Lake Huron.
  • “[Brent] told us before he left that he saw this tour as his chance to help in the effort to bring peace and stability for the people of Afghanistan," wrote CanWest News Service April 10, quoting the statement from his family. “He was inspired by the thought that his efforts might help to ensure little girls had the chance to go to school and women might be given the opportunity to thrive in an environment free of brutal oppression. He is in every sense our hero and he will always be."
    Although his family said they were "devastated" by his death, they were extremely proud of his service in Afghanistan, wrote CanWest. They said he wouldn’t have wanted his death to cause any wavering in Canada’s commitment to the mission in Afghanistan and shouldn’t be fodder for "political opportunism."
  • In a video produced by Army Public Affairs and available on the defence department’s Web site, Poland is shown leading a platoon as part of an infantry officer training exercise at Gagetown, reported the London Free Press April 10.
    John and Ann Hitchins, who live across the street from Poland’s family and have known Poland since he was a child, called him "a wonderful kid (who) seemed to really be enjoying the military," said the Free Press. "The whole family has a wonderful sense of humour, and (Brent) kept them in stitches. They’re devastated," John Hitchins said.

York technician wants the information on UFOs

After decades under lock and key in dusty filing cabinets, France’s national space agency went public with its "X-Files" and posted 1,600 pages of them on the Internet late last month, wrote the National Post April 9. To those who actually believe there may be proof of alien life contained in France’s files, the opening of the archives is a "breath of fresh air", in the words of one Canadian enthusiast. "It’s not right to lie to people and if we are, in fact, being visited by beings from other worlds, should anyone be able to keep this information from us?" asked York alumnus Nick Balaskas (BSc ’79), a lab technician in York’s Department of Physics & Astronomy in the Faculty of Science & Engineering.

Romberg’s bizarre aesthetic attracts veteran players

When he was a boy, York music instructor Barry Romberg wanted to be a comedian, wrote the National Post April 10. The closest he ever came to achieving that dream was playing drums in the house band at Yuk Yuk’s in Toronto in the late ’70s. The drummer’s technique, imagination and relentless sense of swing and groove prove him to be a serious musician – indeed, he is nominated for best drummer at this year’s National Jazz Awards. Romberg’s musical associates include trumpeter and fellow York instructor Kevin Turcotte.

York grads get jobs

Individual Ontario universities also publish statistics on the employment rates of their graduates by program six months after they finish school, wrote the Toronto Star April 10 in a story on Ontario colleges. At York University, 79 per cent of graduates in mathematics and computer science had found jobs six months after getting their degrees, compared to 88.9 per cent in humanities and 100 per cent in agriculture and biological science.

York has intellectual property rights rules

In a story in the Ottawa Citizen, April 10, about a new plagiarism policy to protect graduate students’ work at Carleton University, Ian Boyko, national Chair of the Canadian Federation of Students, said only a handful of universities have intellectual property rights policies, including York University.

Nursing students lend helping hand

Since she started taking nursing students to the Dominican Republic for clinical experience seven years ago, Lynn Hoath has had the satisfaction of knowing her efforts have made a difference, wrote the Owen Sound Sun Times April 10. Hoath is a nursing instructor at Georgian College’s Owen Sound campus, where some of the students are in the first two years of a bachelor of science degree program for nurses, offered by York University’s Faculty of Health.

She and a group of 75 students and faculty members head south April 18 for this year’s tour. Three years ago, the program expanded to include nurses who supervise the hospital clinical work of Georgian students. York professors have also joined the program. This year, they’ve developed an irrigation project in the northern part of Dominican Republic to make use of the skills of some non-medical volunteers who want in on the project.

On air

  • Daniel Cohn, professor of public policy in York’s Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies, spoke about private versus public health care in British Columbia on CKNW-AM(Vancouver) April 9.