Friends of former York Region police chief establish scholarship in his name

He gave his life’s work to the community and now the community wants to give back, wrote the Thornhill Liberal March 31, in a story about a scholarship in honour of former York Region Police Chief Armand La Barge [BA Hons. ’95].

Supporters of La Barge and his wife Denise have created a scholarship to honour the former police chief; they’re hoping York Region residents who were similarly inspired by this leadership will chip in.

The Armand and Denise La Barge Graduate Scholarship in Multiculturalism will support a graduate student at York University, whose work reflects La Barge’s life work.

Inspired by changes around him, La Barge studied multiculturalism and policing at Seneca College and was the first graduate of a six-course multiculturalism studies certificate program at York in the early ’90s.

A committee of volunteers has been working to raise money. York University is matching contributions received by April 30 at a ratio of three to one, said Ron Smith, chair of the scholarship steering committee. The committee has secured commitments for roughly 75 per cent of the funding with a goal to awarding the first scholarship in the Fall of 2011.

Students who are awarded the scholarship will be venturing into a field with great promise, said La Barge, who has applied to several institutions to pursue his own multicultural studies at the PhD level.

"Immigration is critically important to the future of our country," said La Barge. "Multiculturalism is increasingly important to all of us."

India-born Ellis Jacob leads Cineplex chain

Ellis Jacob [MBA ’76], is the president and CEO of Cineplex Entertainment, wrote The Canadian Jewish News April 7, in a profile of the York grad. Recently appointed a member of the Order of Canada, Jacob has come a mighty long way since his arrival here in 1969 as a 16-year-old teenager from Calcutta [Kolkata], India.

A Sephardi Jew whose Iraqi and Syrian ancestors settled in India in the first years of the 20th century, Jacob adapted quickly to his new surround­ings. He studied at Montreal’s Dawson College, finished a commerce degree at McGill University and graduated from [the Schulich School of Business at] York University with an MBA.

Jacob, the youngest of four siblings and the son of a sales manager, regards India with the warmest of feelings. “It’s amazing and different,” said Jacob, who has visited India twice since leaving. “That’s what is so great about India.”

Nonetheless, he is saddened by the fact that [Kolkata]’s Jewish community has so dwindled in the past four decades. “Pretty well everyone is gone,” said Jacob, who has distant relatives in Mumbai and whose uncle, Jack, was an Indian army general. “But I had a great life in India. I really enjoyed living there.”

York prof questions Ford campaign financing

In almost every campaign, candidates – who have no boundaries on what they can spend on their own campaign as long as it’s within the overall limit – take personal loans from banks or other registered financial institutions to cover expenses, according to York University political scientist and campaign finance expert Robert MacDermid [Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies], who has been scrutinizing Ford’s financial statements as well as those of his mayoral rival George Smitherman, wrote The Globe and Mail April 6, in a story about Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s campaign financing.

MacDermid questioned why Ford would use funds from the holding company when he could have gone to a financial institution.

York researcher gets $1 million to study global gender identity discrimination

Toronto helped lead the world in its embrace of diversity when the first same-sex couple to be legally married in North America was wed here in 2003. That local tradition of re-examining legal attitudes to gender issues will carry on as York University Professor Nancy Nicol [Faculty of Fine Arts] has received $1 million in funding to study the criminalization of sexual orientation and gender issues across the globe, wrote the weekly online news magazine Yonge Street April 6.

The funding, to be delivered over five years, comes courtesy of the federal government’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. According to the announcement of the award, Nicol will lead a 22-member team to "explore how LGBT and human rights groups resist criminalization of sexual orientation and gender identity," especially in the developing world of the global south.

"Our work will combine documentary and participatory video with qualitative interviewing, focus groups, legal data research and analysis, and a limited use of surveys," Nicol says in a release. "We plan to make a unique contribution to documenting and analyzing criminalization, asylum and resistance to criminalization within and beyond regions."

Lost, in more ways than one

Okay, I suppose I’ve beaten around the bush here long enough, wrote J. Kelly Nestruck of The Globe and Mail April 6, in his critical review of a new play at the Theatre Centre. Lost Voices concerns two children’s aid workers, hardboiled Terri (Soo Garay) and rookie Phil (Shaun McComb), handling the refugee claims of two minors who arrive at Toronto’s Pearson airport unaccompanied from India and Pakistan.

Wakeed (Owais Lightwala) and Nabeela (Sarena Parmar) seem not to understand English at first, but as soon as that becomes dramatically untenable they begin to speak it pretty fluently.

Lightwala, a third-year student at York University, and Parmar of TV’s “How to Be Indie” are pretty good, but they have little to do other than stand around and look vulnerable.

On air

  • York student Curtis Hector, president of Habitat for Humanity at York, spoke about growing up in a Habitat home while in high school and being the first in his family to attend university, on CBC Radio’s “Metro Morning” April 5.
  • Alan Middleton, marketing professor in the Schulich School of Business at York University, spoke about the use of social media in the election campaign at a Northern riding, on CBC Radio Sudbury, April 5.
  • Bernie Wolf, economics professor in the Schulich School of Business at York University, spoke about the planned shutdown of Toyota plants in Canada and the US due to a shortage of parts caused by the earthquake/tsunami disaster in Japan, on CTV News April 5.