Miss Universe Canada is an angel of mercy for the kids of Brazil

Miss Universe Canada is a good calling card if you run a charity. Mariana Valente’s charity is the children of her native Brazil, wrote The Toronto Sun Oct. 22 in a story about the York student who has taken a year off to take care of her official duties.

It started with her grandmother, who for years held a Christmas party for the poor in Caxambu, 300 kilometres north of Rio. She died two years ago. Mariana and her family kept the party going, long distance. They came to Canada in 1997.

And they set their sights higher – rebuilding a ramshackle shelter for abused kids in Caxambu. Headquarters for the charity, now called BASE (Brazilian Association for Social & Educational Support), is the dinner table in Richmond Hill. There’s Mariana, her dad Gustavo, an engineer at Bombardier, her school teacher mom, Ellen, sister Patricia, 26, and brother Luis Gustavo, 28.

“Winning the pageant,” says Mariana, “meant we could help on a much bigger scale. What a great way to honour my grandmother.”

The shelter is nearly done. Mariana, whose beau is a construction worker, goes to Brazil next month to scout the next plan: A school to teach adults basic job skills.

Much more than a pretty face is our Mariana. She’s had an action-packed six months since I last saw her. She didn’t make the final 15 at Miss Universe in the Bahamas. She’s just in from her part-time job at a Richmond Hill daycare. She’s taking a year off from York University to deal with the demands of her title – charity events include SickKids, AIDS and breast cancer. A TV gig, surprise, surprise, might be in her future.

Schulich tops Yale, Stanford in survey

York University’s Schulich School of Business has been named the top postsecondary institution for non-traditional business content in a new survey, beating out almost 150 other schools from around the world, including Yale and Stanford, wrote the National Post Oct. 22. This is the first time a Canadian school has taken the top spot in the Beyond Grey Pinstripes survey, a biennial “alternative ranking” of master of business administration programs first published in 1999.

The survey, which takes 18 months to complete, does not look at test scores or an institution’s reputation, wrote the Post. Rather, a panel of PhD fellows evaluates the curriculum, faculty research and institutional support of a school for its focus on social, ethical and environmental issues, such as immigration in the workforce or the impact of a carbon tax on business.

Asian choreographers join native, black artists in Toronto experiment

York fine arts alumna Lata Pada (MA ’96) thinks it’s time to put multiculturalism to bed and start talking interculturalism, wrote the Toronto Star Oct. 22.

To underline her point, Pada has brought together three emerging dance artists from distinct cultural traditions for a collaborative work called Samvād, the Sanskrit word for dialogue.

Pada is an internationally acclaimed leader in Toronto’s South Asian dance community and founder/artistic director of Mississauga-based Sampradaya Dance Creations.

Pada conceived a project in which she, along with native actor Michael Greyeyes, theatre professor in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, and York grad Charmaine Headley (MA ’07), co-artistic director of COBA (the Collective of Black Artists), would act as mentors to the three younger choreographers. They include Meena Murugesan, Nadine Jackson and Shelly Ann McLeod, each respectively coming from South Asian, aboriginal and Afro-Caribbean cultural heritages.