Hockey injuries greater for boys born early in the year, says York study

Being born in January has long been considered a head start for children, said The Globe & Mail July 3. But if they play hockey, boys born early in the year are more prone to injury than peers born late in the same year, according to a new study released July 2.  Because these kids are taller, heavier and faster, "we thought they’d be predisposed to lower rates of injury," says Joseph Baker, a professor of kinesiology and health science in the Faculty of Health at York University, who conducted the study with grad student Nicholas Wattie.

The opposite proved to be true. The study, which appears in the July issue of the US journal Pediatrics, looked at 10,000 ice hockey injuries reported at Canadian hospitals among 10- to 15-year-old boys between 1995 and 2002. The majority of players with injuries were born in January, February or March. Kids born in October, November or December of the same year were injured the least. Causes of injury included body checks, falls, collisions with the boards and being hit by a puck or hockey stick.

Initially, the researchers thought older kids were simply getting more ice time and therefore had more chances to get injured. But Baker is discussing another theory with colleagues in Australia, where there are plenty of contact sports, such as rugby, to study: while bigger players are more fearless about rushing into physical contact, smaller players might know they have to exercise caution. And they might also be compensating for their relative lack of bulk with more skill.

Baker’s research illuminates the issue of whether kids should be grouped by age alone in both sports and school. "Any time you have hard-and-fast cutoff dates you’re creating a continuum of oldest and youngest," he says. Grouping kids by weight in hockey, as is the case in wrestling, might be one solution.  

B’nai Brith cites principled defence of academic freedom

I was moved by Professor Ernest Weinrib’s plea to his fellow colleagues to beware of the British University and College Union (UCU) boycott campaign, which seeks to ostracize Israeli academics, wrote Frank Dimant, executive vice-president of B’nai Brith Canada, in a letter published in the National Post June 30. Leaders of some of Canada’s most prestigious universities – Heather Monroe-Blum, McGill University; Stephen J. Toope, University of British Columbia; Claude Lajeunesse, Concordia University; Danielle Laberge, Universite du Quebec à Montreal; Lorna R. Marsden, York University; Luc Vinet, Universite de Montreal; and Emoke Szathmary, University of Manitoba – should be commended for their moral clarity in denouncing the UCU boycott and for their principled defence of academic freedom, Dimant said.

NASA to tackle universe’s mysteries

NASA has announced five new space missions to track mysteries that go "beyond Einstein" — where the universe came from, what it’s made of, and whether space has edges, reported CanWest News Service in the National Post July 3. The first launch is set for 2015. NASA says its new Einstein Probes Office will "provide key information to help answer questions about the origin and evolution of the universe."

"If you go back 10 years, we still were of the view that the universe might stop its expansion," says astronomer Paul Delaney of York University’s Faculty of Science & Engineering. Since then, astronomers have found that the universe is not only continuing to expand, but its spread is speeding up. Pushing the universe apart is something called dark energy – "dark" in the sense that we can’t observe it in the way we see light or sense heat and X-rays. "Seventy per cent of the universe is dark energy. None of us know what the damn stuff is… yet it’s 70 per cent of everything," Delaney says.

Neighbourhood birds of a feather 

To help companies more effectively sell you their steaks and sandals and SUVs, MapInfo Canada and competitor Environics Analytics have divided Canadians into some 65 lifestyle "clusters", reported the Toronto Star June 30. Using census and survey data, they’ve placed your neighbourhood in one of them – and created an exhaustive description of your supposed personality.

Cluster information may not give any company a competitive advantage, says marketing professor Ashwin Joshi of York University’s Schulich School of Businesss, since every company in an industry might well have the same Environics or MapInfo data. But cluster systems can help firms better understand the people in the neighbourhoods in which they operate.

Liberals face huge fundraising deficit

In this year’s first financial quarter, the Conservatives took in 10 times as much money as the Liberals from 10 times as many people, giving them millions to spare for anti-Liberal TV ads, reported The Globe & Mail July 3. "It [the poor showing] says to me that the internal party mechanism has not yet seriously turned its mind to this problem," said  political science professor Robert MacDermid of York’s Faculty of Arts,an expert on political fundraising. "That is partly the role of the leader."

It is much easier for a governing party – and the Liberals have been in office longer than the Tories in the past 50 years – to raise money. "Corporations want to give money . . . and it’s easier to send out a bagman than it is to write a fundraising letter and spend a bunch of money posting it," MacDermid said. He said he thinks that the Liberals mistakenly believed that all of the political parties would merely rely on the taxpayer subsidy and not aggressively try to raise funds.

Tradition a powerful draw for the second generation

Gideon Arhinful doesn’t spend a lot of time pondering his cultural identity, wrote the Toronto Star July 2 as part of a series on multiculturalism. He just knows that when he has children, they’ll be raised more Ghanaian than he was. His parents arrived in Canada before he was born. They divorced when he was an infant, separating his mother from the Ghanaian community and leaving Arhinful far removed from his native culture.

"I don’t even really know the language that well," the 19-year-old York University student admits, shaking his head. His mother has now begun to speak to him in her first language, Fanti, and emphasize Ghanaian culture in their home near Eglinton Ave. W. and Keele St., out of a fear that part of his identity has been lost. Arhinful echoes her concern. "I don’t like to be forced to do things, but I would like to know a little more about my culture."

Young Canadians like Arhinful are the future of multiculturalism. Raised in the mosaic model, they and their children will determine whether the country’s ethnic diversity will flourish separately or adapt and meld in the coming years.

Kisho Jeyaseelan, 22, was born in Sri Lanka and moved to Canada in 1991. Tamil language dominates his home near Kennedy Rd. and Lawrence Ave. E., but he rarely visits the temple, while his mother and sister go weekly.

Jeyaseelan is attending York University and is thinking about opening a marketing firm. His friend, Truong Phung, 21, sitting across from him for an impromptu card game between classes, was born in Vietnam and moved to Canada six years ago. Phung, who lives across town at Creditview Rd. and Bristol Rd., dreams of becoming a doctor. Unlike their parents, neither one sees their career hopes as out of reach.

  • In an earlier story in the multiculturalism series, the Toronto Star June 30 noted the concerns of author Andrew Cohen, who says newcomers to the country are given no strong sense of Canadian identity. "Canada allows them to bring all their emotional, linguistic and ethnic baggage and unpack it here. That is not the way to build a country." The Star said Saeed Rahnema, director of the Atkinson School of Public Policy & Administration at York University, echoes similar concerns, but points especially to imported religious beliefs. "Some people, particularly very conservative leaders, try to bring arcane perceptions of society into Canada and impose it on their youth," he says.
    "If we do not emphasize the universal values in Canada, which are governed by the Charter of Rights and by enlightenment ideas, then we will have all these groups who would like to create their own identities."

Entrepreneur-alum wants to be a carbon-neutral retailer 

Tim Petrou (BSc ’06) is an entrepreneur with an unusual goal: he wants to become the first carbon-neutral retailer in Canada – or at least the GTA. To reach that golden ring, Petrou, 23, has set about "offsetting" all the jet fuel and gas used in transporting goods from across the country to his Oakville specialty store.

He also pays for the privilege of keeping steaks from Alberta and seafood from Vancouver frozen while in transit – and while they’re sitting in giant refrigerators in his shop, which is part butcher, fishmonger and purveyor of fair trade coffee. Since opening in May, Petrou has spent about $700 a month buying carbon credits. The money is funnelled into renewable energy projects or into planting trees. The idea is to pay into programs that will reduce or trap carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that Petrou’s business activities emit into the atmosphere.

Petrou, who has an environmental science degree from York University and is pursuing a law degree at the University of Ottawa, calculates his offsetting costs to the penny. He plugs car and truck mileage or kilowatt-hours into an online emissions calculator at to find out what he owes each month. That way he can work toward carbon-neutralizing his business.

Teacher and alum championed rights before it was trendy

Helen Gough (BA ’74 [Poli. Sci.], BA Hons. ’89 [Eng.], MA ’90) was the first woman elected a parish warden in the Anglican Church of Canada’s Toronto diocese, in 1971, said The Globe & Mail in an obituary July 2. Raised in 11 foster homes, she became a teacher and counsellor who championed the rights of Aboriginal people, immigrants, gays, the poor and the marginalized long before it was trendy.

In the 1960s, said the Globe, she went into social service work for the diocese, mainly on housing conditions in Toronto, before returning to school at 35 to earn a BA at York University. She confessed that it was the worst experience of her adult life. With a D average, "I was so ashamed, I didn’t go to my graduation or tell my mother about it until much later." Despite that, she returned to York a decade later to earn a master’s degree in English, with honours, and an essay prize. She died in Toronto of cancer on June 1. She was 76.

Farmers’ market taking root

The Chatham Daily News reported July 3 on a new farmers’ market in front of the Downtown Chatham Centre, where residents hoped there would be more such events. That’s the plan, according Meghan Holmes, a York University student from Thamesville, who is heading up the project, which is a joint venture between the Historic Downtown Chatham BIA and South West Agri Development. "We still want more produce," she said. "Anyone selling produce, we’d love to have them."

The new university endowment manager  

Edgier, riskier, sexier. The hot new fund managers aren’t ensconced in Bay Street skyscrapers. They are perched in ivory towers, reported the National Post July 3. These aren’t stodgy economics professors fussing over play-it-safe university endowments. The new keepers of university trusts are on the cutting edge of investing. University of British Columbia and University of Toronto are ahead of the curve and other Canadian universities are also trying to keep pace. Smaller endowments like York University, which hit a $306-million high as of May 31, recently commissioned an asset mix liability study.

On air:

  • Shin Imai, a professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, talked about the Aboriginal Day of Action, on CBC Radio’s “World Report” June 30. Imai said non-Natives should look at the land-claims process as a relationship to be nurtured rather than a list of problems to be solved.