People to watch in 2011: York grad Farrah Khan

Through social activism, Farrah Khan (BES Spec. Hons. ‘05) has transformed herself from victim to victor, wrote the Toronto Star Dec. 30 in a story about the York grad.

During years of sexual abuse by her maternal grandfather, Khan tried to seek help from others, but to no avail. “Everyone was in denial,” says Khan, 31, whose abusive grandfather died in 2007.

So Khan, who grew up in Burlington, became an activist as a high schooler at Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School and continued while pursuing a BA in environmental and women’s studies at York University, raising money for Halton’s Rape Crisis Centre. “I couldn’t change what’d happened, but I could change other things,” she says.

Khan, whose Muslim father, Zain Khan, is from India and Catholic mother, Maggie Byckalo, is Dutch, is now a counsellor to abused women at the Barbra Schlifer Clinic.

In the wake of the 2007 murder of Mississauga Muslim teen Aqsa Parvez by her father and brother, she started a group for young Muslim girls to discuss their issues in a safe space, and make art. The group publishes a magazine in April each year, AQUAzine. “Many people speak on our behalf, but we need a space to speak for ourselves,” says Khan, a self-identified Muslim, who is trained in self-defence and offers free workshops for women at mosques.

AQUAzine will launch a podcast in January. Besides a campaign against Quebec’s proposed ban on headscarves (which she believes would further jeopardize abused women’s access to help because it would deny services to hijab-wearing women), Khan – who does not wear a veil but says, “I am Muslim, full stop” – will advise the Urban Alliance on anti-harassment and assault programs.

She says she has moved beyond the trauma of the past. “Violence does not define who I am, but the work I do to address violence does,” says Khan.

FES prof defends wind park project

Our faculty is located in Toronto and several of our new programs are focused on providing world-class training and research opportunities focused on renewable energy, wrote Professor Jose Etcheverry of York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies in a letter to the Toronto Star Dec. 30, responding to criticism of a proposed wind park project by Toronto Councillor Doug Holyday.

The development of the Pukwis Community Wind Park on Georgina Island represents a unique project, wrote Etcheverry. It will help inspire a variety of new training initiatives focused on community-level projects, which have the potential to greatly benefit not only Torontonians but also other Ontarians interested in practical ventures that are profitable, create new good-quality jobs, increase industrial innovation, and help local communities address air pollution and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Toronto Atmospheric Fund should be commended for consistently helping to address climate change and for supporting paradigm-shifting initiatives such as Pukwis.

Mississauga hires Osgoode grad as integrity commissioner

George Rust-D’Eye (BA ‘64, LLB ‘69, LLM ‘83), one of the Greater Toronto Area’s best known municipal lawyers, is the City of Mississauga’s first integrity commissioner, wrote The Mississauga News Dec. 30.

The city hired Rust-D’Eye, a former integrity commissioner for the City of Brantford, for a one-year position which expires at the end of 2011. His appointment comes just a few months after City of Mississauga councillors approved a code of conduct for themselves and the appointment of an integrity commissioner to enforce its provisions.

Called to the bar in 1971 after graduating from York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, Rust-D’Eye has had a long and successful career in the field of municipal law. Throughout his career, Rust-D’Eye has written and lectured extensively in the area of municipal law. He has been recognized by the Law Society of Upper Canada as a certified specialist in the field.

Cut yourself some slack

When things go wrong, it helps if you give yourself a little compassion, wrote PostMedia News Jan. 3 in a story about New Year’s resolutions. York University researchers found that writing yourself a series of feel-good letters results in a long-term emotional boost that lasts at least six months.

The researchers asked more than 200 people to log onto a website for seven nights in a row. Some were asked to write to themselves compassionately, addressing something upsetting and comforting themselves as they would a friend. Others were asked to write an optimistic letter, imagining a problem that is resolved in the future, then advise themselves on how to get there.

Psychologist Myriam Mongrain, who has studied depression for 25 years, says people who are self-critical or dependent are prone to depression. Those who wrote compassionate or optimistic letters were less depressed up to three months later, and still had an overall increase in happiness six months later.

York grad wins re-nomination for Bahamas election

The Bahamas’ Progressive Liberal Party has named York grad and sitting MP Glenys Hanna-Martin (BA Spec. Hons. ‘81) as a candidate for the upcoming general election, wrote the Dec. 23.

She received her early education at the St. Anne’s School and Queen’s College in Nassau. Hanna-Martin studied at Padworth College, Reading England, York University (BA Specialized Hons), Toronto Canada and the University of Buckingham (LLB, Hons); Inner Temple, England.

A former executive officer in the Ministry of Education, Hanna-Martin was called to the bar of England & Wales and the Bahamas in 1988. She was elected president of the New Providence Women’s Branch of the PLP in 1998.

She is the representative for the Englerston constituency and served in the Christie Cabinet as the Minister of Transportation & Aviation.

Hanna-Martin was the first female Chairperson of a major political party in Bahamian history.

Church repairs must be done despite the cost, backers say

Built at a cost of $12,000, St. George’s Anglican Church in Owen Sound was opened and dedicated on Aug. 7, 1881, wrote the Owen Sound Sun Times Dec. 24, citing a church pamphlet in a story about costly efforts to restore the building. The church was designed by Marshall Aylesworth, the architect behind some dozen churches and 24 other buildings, according to Laurie McBride, who researched Aylesworth’s work as part of her master’s in art history studies at York University.

Mark Lalama puts out his first album

It’s almost inconceivable that York grad Mark Lalama’s new album, Home, is also his first, wrote the Pelham News Jan. 1. “Isn’t that embarrassing?” he said, laughing. “I’m embarrassed. There is no excuse. I own my own studio.”

Lalama (BFA Spec. Hons. ‘87), who grew up in Welland and now lives in Fenwick, is like a Daniel Lanois kind of guy. He works with all the big names, and, until this point, has put his own project to the side.

“I write songs all the time and I produce a lot of stuff for different artists. I play on a lot of CDs and I put my own stuff on the back burner,” Lalama said. “But lately, I’ve been asked to do more concerts as a solo artist and I thought, what a great time to do a CD.”

Lalama graduated from Welland Centennial Secondary School and then went to York University, where he studied musical composition. He graduated in 1987, and has since performed or recorded with Mariah Carey, Tom Jones, Jann Arden, Olivia Newton-John, Amy Sky, Marc Jordan and Dan Hill.

As the pianist and arranger on "Canadian Idol", Lalama worked with everyone from Tony Bennett, Jon Bon Jovi and Cyndi Lauper to Nelly Furtado, Bryan Adams and Kelly Clarkson. His television credits also include "Battle of the Blades", the kids’ show "Toot and Puddle" and the Discovery Channel’s "Meteor and Friends".

As a producer, Lalama has worked with Divine Brown, RyanDan, Stojko and Kevin Breit.

York Central Hospital names trustee boss

Vaughan’s Dina Palozzi (MBA ‘76) has been appointed chairperson of York Central Hospital’s board of trustees, wrote York Dec. 23.

Palozzi, who was formerly vice-chairperson of the board, is president of Paladina Management Consulting and has worked on a number of portfolios for the province including deputy minister for the Ministry of Finance, Revenue & Financial Institutions, and deputy minister for Correctional Services.

She holds a MBA from York University and a BA from the University of Toronto.

Battered but unbroken, Bussin has no regrets

Moving forward, former Ward 30 councillor Sandra Bussin (BA ’74) has been looking at some chief administrative officer positions, but what she would really like to do is host her own talk-radio show, wrote the Toronto Star Dec. 31 in a story about her future career plans. “I really think there is a progressive perspective missing out there right now. I think that would be really fun,” said Bussin, who has a fine arts degree from York University and has dabbled with media in the past.

Waffles on ice? Chew on that Maple Leafs

Disgruntled Toronto Maple Leafs supporters are expressing their disgust over yet another abysmal hockey season in Toronto in a new and novel way: by tossing waffles onto the ice at the Air Canada Centre, wrote the National Post Dec. 22.

What began at the conclusion of a loss on Dec. 9 has continued since, with more thrown onto the ice Monday night, forcing the referee to halt play. What has not stopped are the questions: Why waffles? What does it mean?

James Laxer, a noted economist and political science professor in York University’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, was a founding member of The Waffle. A short-lived, radical arm of the NDP, The Waffle briefly flourished in the late 1960s and early ‘70s and espoused, among other things, the nationalization of Canadian industries, sovereignty for Quebec and the creation of an “independent socialist Canada”.

“Lots of other leftists have got themselves thinking about WikiLeaks and the G20, but the old Wafflers have planned this very carefully, and what we are doing is striking out at corporate capitalism at the Air Canada Centre,” said Laxer, a Toronto resident but lifelong Montreal Canadiens fan. “We see the throwing of the waffles on the ice as a definite surge of support for The Waffle. There is no question about what’s happening.”

That’s just it: Toronto fans do spend money, great gobs of it. There are no cheap seats at the Air Canada Centre. The expensive ones, from whence the waffles have flown, cost hundreds of dollars apiece – a price tag a founding Waffle finds appalling. “I’m a hockey fan,” Laxer says. “If someone gives me a ticket, I’d go. But I’d never pay to go.”

However, he claims the projectiles possess a deeper, more political meaning, and that the flying waffles are the first shots in a rising socialist tide. “The Waffle started two years after the Leafs won their last Stanley Cup in 1967. So we have been around almost as long as Maple Leafs fans have been waiting for a Stanley Cup,” Laxer says. “There hasn’t been a lot of talk about The Waffle in recent years. But what you are seeing at the Air Canada Centre is a definite sign that we are back.”

On air

  • Alain Beaudot, professor emeritus at York’s Glendon College, was mentioned on CBC Radio (Sudbury) Dec. 21 for being named a Knight of the Order of La Pléiade by the Assemblée parlementaire de la francophonie, Ontario Section, for his contributions to French culture.
  • Alan Middleton, marketing professor in the Schulich School of Business at York University, spoke about plans by TD Bank to buy Chrysler Financial, on Global Television News, Dec. 21.