Record crowds attended Rogers Cup at York

A week that opened with a surprising Canadian victory has ended with record attendance figures at the Rogers Cup, with more than 161,000 tennis fans filing through the gates at York University to watch the men’s event, reported Canadian Press in a story picked up by newspapers and broadcasters across the country Aug. 16.

Tournament director Karl Hale said Sunday there have been five sellouts, which is three fewer than two years ago, but only because capacity has been increased on the grounds around the Rexall Centre. He said it was "too early" to offer any revenue projections, reported CP.

Canadian newspapers and broadcasters paid close attention to the weeklong tournament at the Rexall Centre at York. Here’s a flavour of the final weekend coverage:

  • Andy Murray politely described his stay here as "one of the best weeks I’ve had," when it would have been just as accurate to describe his run at the Rogers Cup as one of the best weeks anyone could have on the ATP World Tour, reported Canadian Press Aug. 16. He has become the first man in more than a decade to successfully defend his Rogers Cup title. Play was delayed several times by rain at York University, where the players also had to combat the heat and oppressive humidity in the US$2.43-million event. Murray claimed $443,500 with the win, while Roger Federer had to settle for $222,000 with the loss.
  • The National Post’s Shinan Govani reported sightings of hockey player Sidney Crosby delivering a birthday cake to Roger Federer at the Rexall Centre and Rafael Nadal helicoptering to York University from the downtown core, Aug. 14. 
  • North York’s Daniel Nestor, Canada’s most decorated tennis player, and his doubles partner have been eliminated from the Rogers Cup, reported the North York Mirror Aug. 13. Until the loss, Nestor was the only Canadian remaining in the tournament being held Aug. 7 to 15 at the Rexall Centre at York University.

Boat people are rarely welcomed anywhere, says prof

Canada’s first boat people were the Norse who came ashore a thousand years ago in Newfoundland. They fit the refugee pattern: farmers and simple artisans, maybe a few fierce Vikings among them known for terrorizing Europe, people driven out of their homeland by population pressures and political unrest, wrote Michael Valpy in The Globe and Mail Aug. 14.

The great boat-people success story in Canada, of course, has been the refugees from Indochina – the Vietnamese, Vietnamese Chinese, Lao and Kampucheans who now number a quarter of a million people, most of them originally sponsored in the late 1970s and early 1980s by church and community groups with federal government assistance after the US-supported South Vietnamese government fell to the North Vietnamese communists. Most of the refugees were highly educated professionals who fit quickly into Canadian society.

Similarly, the so-called Mariel boatlift of 130,000 Cubans to the United States over a few short months of 1980 transformed Miami.

But Professor Kyle Killian of York University’s Centre for Refugee Studies says boat people are rarely welcomed anywhere, even in Canada.  

"First, they have been displaced as a result of a conflict elsewhere in the world, and therefore are often deemed as ‘someone else’s problem’.  

“Second, they have been displaced often as a result of an armed conflict with another ethnic community. And as history is written by the victors, representatives of the ethnic community who displaced the boat people are often quick to sound an alarm about the supposed inherent dangers that the boat people represent. These attempts at negative public relations can be successful because they activate xenophobic responses in citizens of the prospective host country.  

“Third, it has long been established in social psychological research – the ‘bystander’ studies – that human beings tend to be more helpful to persons in need when they are perceived as attractive and possess characteristics similar to bystanders."  

York offers boost to job-hunting immigrant professionals 

When Mohamad Sjamaun arrived in Toronto from Jakarta last year, he had high hopes of being able to use his skills and extensive managerial experience to land a professional job to be able to support his wife and four children, reported The Globe and Mail Aug. 14.  

Since arriving in Canada, he has applied for managerial jobs at more than 100 companies without even getting a nibble. 

“Many immigrants face a job market that doesn’t know how to assess or use their skills,” says Nora Priestly, project manager of the new Bridging Program for Internationally Educated Professionals at York University. While similar programs have been in place to help immigrants in regulated professions such as engineering, medicine and nursing, this program aims to help immigrants with managerial experience get into leadership roles.  

There are 67 students who got into the program by word of mouth and advertisements, and all have university degrees, with 57 per cent having a master’s degree or higher. The majority of the students have five or more years of experience in their professional fields – accounting, marketing, public policy, finance and management.  

Through York’s program, Sjamaun has taken courses to upgrade his technical skills, and, even though he speaks fluent English, he has attended classes to improve his business language skills. He also was teamed up with a volunteer mentor, who has helped him make industry contacts.  

And it is bringing results: “Networking landed my first interview with a potential employer last week,” he says. “I didn’t get the job, but it shows I am heading in the right direction.” 

Ruling giving Inuit testimony equal weight is ‘remarkable’, says prof

With little to show for three months of meetings and letter-writing, Inuit leader Okalik Eegeesiak called a lawyer she knew: Could the courts stop scientific tests that might scare away animals her people rely on?   

That was on July 23, reported The Globe and Mail Aug. 14. Last Sunday, just 16 days later, a judge in Iqaluit granted an injunction against seismic testing in Lancaster Sound, gateway to the Northwest Passage and a body of water with so much wildlife that Ottawa may make it a conservation area.  

It is a landmark ruling for the Inuit, the first legal recognition of their cultural territorial rights in the region. The legal argument for the injunction relied on the Supreme Court of Canada’s 1997 Delgamuukw decision, which acknowledged an inherent aboriginal right to land, plus two rulings it sparked: Haida (2004) and Mikisew (2005), which require the Crown to consult First Nations even if not required to do so by a treaty.  

This time, Madam Justice Sue Cooper of the Nunavut Court of Justice ruled that the federal government did not do enough to involve local communities in its decision-making. She also took the "remarkable" step of giving testimony from Inuit elders equal weight with that of researchers and government officials, says Shin Imai, a professor at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School. "The decision rises to the challenge of bridging European scientific knowledge and indigenous knowledge," he says, adding that he feels it’s on "solid legal ground".  

Honest John was an Ontario giant

As a child, every year on my birthday I would receive a letter in the mail, wrote Ted Woloshyn in the Toronto Sun Aug. 14. Not only were letters addressed to Master Teddy Woloshyn infrequent, but the ones that arrived on that day, in an envelope adorned with the Queen’s Park emblem, were extra special.  

They were personal birthday greetings from longtime family friend John Yaremko; an MPP, and the first Canadian of Ukrainian ancestry to be elected in Eastern Canada.  

He graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School where he became a gold medallist and was first elected in 1951. Seven years later he was appointed as the youngest cabinet minister and served under premiers Leslie Frost, John Robarts and Bill Davis. He was a sitting member in the legislature for 25 years; no one has sat for a longer period of time.  

Yaremko was also Ontario’s first solicitor general, and during his career championed the causes of human rights, the disabled, the poor and ethnic minorities. [He died Aug. 7.]

Vichnaya pam’yat. May your memory be eternal, wrote Woloshyn.

Turning tea into dollars with gourmet biscuits

Some people do yoga to relax. Susan Ho bakes. As the founder of Tea Aura Inc., these days Ho, 34, is often in a kitchen, whipping up innovative, mouth-watering baked goods, reported the Toronto Star Aug. 16.  

Her Toronto-based company creates shortbread cookies infused with tea flavours, such as Rooibos Chai, Earl Grey or Chocolate Mint. The company’s tea leaf-shaped cookies are carried by 215 Canadian and 20 American boutiques.  

When it came to branding, Ho and her husband Charles Wu – Wu is a partner in the business and earned an MBA from York’s Schulich School of Business in 2002 – decided to position Tea Aura’s cookies as a high-end product.  

Student saved by CPR

Last month, Derek Wilson essentially dropped dead, reported the Waterloo Region Record Aug. 16. Felled by cardiac arrest at the age of 25, lying unconscious in the hallway of the Cambridge home he shared with friends, his vital signs faded away.  

He’s here today to talk about the ordeal, thanks to the quick actions of friends and the skilled care of medical professionals.

His parents never left his side while he was in hospital. Twelve days later, he was released. He’s recovering at his mother’s house now, regaining his strength and counting the weeks until he begins classes at York University, studying human rights & equity studies.  

On air

  • Former sex worker Wendy Babcock was admitted to York’s Osgoode Hall Law School as a mature student. Her life experience and work in the community trumped her lack of academics, reported Global News Aug. 14 in a story that ran in Toronto, Calgary, Winnipeg and Saskatoon.