Report calls for new ways of dealing with youth homelessness

A York University report is calling for reform in the approach used to deal with youth homelessness, emphasizing the potential role that family members can still play in supporting youngsters in need, wrote The Canadian Press April 14.

The report said it’s estimated that roughly 65,000 young people are homeless or living in homeless shelters throughout the country at one time or another during a given year.

Stephen Gaetz, associate dean of research and professional development in York’s Faculty of Education, used to work in the youth homelessness sector in the ’90s.

He said the approach in Canada has remained much the same since – namely, the focus on provision of emergency services. "The longer I’m involved in this issue, the more upset I am that we allow 15-, 16- and 17-year-olds to languish in emergency shelters rather than to provide them with better solutions and better options," he said.

He co-authored the report with Daphne Winland, a professor in York’s Department of Anthropology [Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies], and researcher Tara Patton.

Gaetz noted that other countries, such as Australia and the UK, have evolved approaches focusing on prevention and moving individuals out of homelessness and into housing. He said that while emergency services are needed, the real emphasis should be on preventing young people from becoming and remaining homeless.

  • If Canada wants to keep young people off the street, it needs to help families get along, a new report suggests, wrote QMI Agency April 13.

It’s much cheaper and more effective to fund programs that help at-risk youth develop or mend family relations than it is to fund homeless shelters, says the report from Toronto’s York University.

"In Canada, we really need to radically reform our approach to youth homelessness," says Stephen Gaetz, an education professor [and associate dean] at York [Faculty of Education] and co-author of the report, in a statement issued Wednesday.

"We need to be much more strategic in how we address the problem, and this means placing a greater emphasis on prevention, family re-connection and rapid re-housing efforts. This not only improves lives, it’s also more cost effective."

Dance prof enriches Quinte ballet students

The Quinte Ballet School of Canada (QBSC) hosted one of Canada’s foremost modern dance pioneers [over] the course of a week, wrote Belleville EMC April 14.

[Professor] Carol Anderson [BA Spec. Hons. ’73, MA ’06], a celebrated choreographer, author and dance educator [in York’s Department of Dance, Faculty of Fine Arts], participated in the artist-in-residence program offered at the QBSC.

Anderson worked with QBSC students in exploring many elements of modern dance and expression. "There is enormous potential for Quinte to become an important hub for dance," said Anderson. "It has all the elements to attract dance artists, a beautiful setting, a growing talent base and amazing facilities for dance."

She gave a lecture demonstration last Saturday afternoon that was open to the public. The demonstration was based on her career as a choreographer. "There are so many other things that a dancer can do other than just dance," she stated to the gathered crowd of roughly 50 people comprised of QBSC students and members of the public.

Stillbirth epidemic claims more lives each year than HIV-AIDS and malaria combined

When Christine Jonas-Simpson’s son Ethan was born, there was an eerie quiet in the delivery room, and then a piercing wail, wrote The Globe and Mail April 13.

“The only cry I heard was my own,” she said somberly.

Ethan was dead, “born still” in the language of grieving parents; “stillborn” in the medical vernacular. The umbilical cord was constricted, essentially suffocating the baby in the womb, a condition impossible to detect with an ultrasound.

Jonas-Simpson, who was almost 38 weeks pregnant, knew her son was dead before she went into labour. When he was born, she held Ethan in her arms, stroking his shock of curly red hair. So did her husband.

The nurses were wonderfully supportive, even explaining to Ethan’s young siblings how his air tube was broken, something that could happen to an astronaut. The family was able to mourn on their terms.

(Jonas-Simpson, a professor of nursing at York University [Faculty of Health], published a children’s book, Ethan’s Butterflies, and produced a series of research papers and documentaries on stillbirth, the latest of which, Enduring Love: Transforming Loss, will premiere in Toronto on May 15.)

Unlike Ethan, most babies born still are quickly “disposed of” without being held, named or given a funeral. In much of the world, reproduction is central to a woman’s purpose, so there is profound stigma, and no small measure of blame falls on the mother when childbirth fails to produce a living child.

Newly published data show there are more than 2.6 million stillbirths worldwide each year. The deaths remain largely uncounted, the mothers unsupported and preventive measures understudied.

It is an epidemic – one that claims more lives each year than HIV-AIDS and malaria combined – that quietly unfolds far from the public eye.

  • "It’s something that families really don’t get over. Nor do they ever want to forget their child, and it’s something that, even with a physical death, the relationship still continues on. These little babies are very [much] a part of many families’ lives," said Christine Jonas-Simpson, professor in the Faculty of Health at York University, wrote Postmedia News April 14.

Jonas-Simpson has been involved in research and production of educational materials on the experience of losing a child. Her own baby was stillborn in 2001.

Promoting pluralism

Neil Desai and Charles Burton enthusiastically embrace the Conservative government’s supposed vision of promoting religious pluralism abroad as a new foreign policy pillar for Canada, arguing that it’s an initiative that crosses party lines, wrote Lesley Jacobs, professor of law & society in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, in a letter to The Globe and Mail April 14.

What was hard for me to understand is how they think this initiative fits with the government’s track record, one characterized by efforts to enforce particular religious beliefs in the development of global maternal health policy as well as who delivers Canadian foreign aid in Africa. The lesson I’d draw from this track record? Let’s keep religion out of our foreign policy, not make it a pillar.

Jazz singer puts his spin on Sinatra classic My Way

Silky smooth crooner Matt Dusk [BFA Spec. Hons. ’02], a 32-year-old Toronto native, had some reservations about tackling [the Frank Sinatra classic My Way] for his new album, Live From Las Vegas, wrote Victoria, BC’s Times Colonist April 13.

Dusk didn’t hesitate for long. His version, while fairly faithful to the original, differs in that Dusk sings it from his unique perspective. "My version brings a naiveté to it, an ideal," Dusk said from a tour stop in Winnipeg.

"This is the way I see it, which when people listen to it makes them go, ‘He hasn’t been jaded by life.’ That’s why it is really important to encourage young people to continue to sing the standards. When Paul Anka wrote the lyrics to My Way, he was 29. How does someone 29 years old have any idea what a 70-year-old guy goes through? It’s naiveté that created these lyrics."

Fine arts student uses storytelling to heal

For 22-year-old Nicola Bennett, her AMY co-stars even become babysitters, wrote the April 14, in a story about the AMY Project, which aims to help girls from a range of backgrounds and experiences engage in artistic self-expression, practise performance skills and connect with an expansive network of creative and social mentors.

Despite studying classical piano at York University, volunteering for Toronto Public Housing and her building at Jane and Sheppard, starting a new job as a fundraiser at People Against Youth on Drugs and parenting a four-year-old son with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, she still found time to make the two-hour-plus trek from York to rehearsals at Main and Danforth, stopping to pick up young Kayshaun on the way. These are just a few of the obstacles that AMY [tries] to overcome, but it’s also clear that Bennett was not about to let any inconvenience stop her from spreading her words.

"I have a story to tell," she says in the Theatre Passe Muraille lobby, a couple of hours before Check Out’s final performance. "My story is about rape, and I feel like people pass judgment. I’m hoping women will be moved by it. Telling my own personal story is a way to tell people how to deal with it."

Jane Krakowski signs on to do BlackCreek Music Fest

Jane Krakowski, the Tony Award-winning Broadway star of Nine and two-time Emmy nominee for NBC-TV’s comedy sensation, “30 Rock”, has been added to the line-up of stars scheduled to perform in "The Very, Very Best of Broadway" concert scheduled for Saturday, July 9, as part of the new, annual BlackCreek Summer Music Festival, wrote April 13.

The new BlackCreek Summer Music Festival will launch its inaugural season at the Rexall Centre on the [Keele] campus of York University beginning on June 4 with Plácido Domingo in concert. The 2011 season spans 14 weeks, from June to September, and includes such renowned artists as James Taylor, Diana Krall, Tony Bennett, Helen Mirren, Jeremy Irons, James Earl Jones and Lorin Maazel conducting the London Symphony and Castleton Festival Orchestras – all performing "under the stars."

Land of the free, home of the persistent gender pay gap

The stubborn disparity in the salary levels of male and female academics in the US has been highlighted by an annual survey of faculty pay, wrote Times Higher Education April 14.

Figures published this week by the American Association of University Professors indicate that, on average, female academics were paid around a fifth less than their male counterparts in 2010-2011: $71,237 compared with $88,024.

Penni Stewart, president of the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), suggested that the continuing pay disparity in the US may be because of the low level of unionisation in the academy.

Stewart, a professor of sociology at York University [Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies], added that the reduced pay gap in Canada was largely attributable to union activity.

"Less unionized sectors still have much bigger wage gaps between men and women. I think that (unionization) provides rules for employers and standardizes things. You can no longer make private deals with someone who seems a bit more attractive," she said.

Despite the improvements in pay equity in Canada, and the fact that the number of female academics has doubled in the past 20 years, women still account for less than a third of all faculty at universities and colleges in the country.

Stewart acknowledged that "there are lots of issues that remain. It’s not all lovely. But at the same time we have achieved something," she observed.

However, she warned that the CAUT review did not offer an all-encompassing view of Canadian higher education. "What you’re seeing reflected in the equity review is only for full-time academics. We have no data on part-time or contract academic staff in Canada," she said. "It’s a huge problem and, as someone who works with statistics, I can say that it is a complete embarrassment."

Admin studies grad runs again in Mississauga-Brampton

Navdeep Singh Bains [BAS ’99] was first elected MP for Mississauga-Brampton South in June 2004, wrote South Asian Focus April 13. He was re-elected in January 2006 and again in October 2008. Bains currently serves as Liberal Critic for Small Business and, during the last session of Parliament, was Critic for International Trade.

Bains completed his bachelor of administrative studies at York University.

Human rights attorney to speak on Haiti

Ezili Danté (aka Marguerite Laurent), the founder and president of the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network, will speak about Haiti during her first visit to Toronto starting this week, wrote Jamaica’s The Gleaner North American edition April 13.

Laurent believes that the majority of Haitians were disenfranchised in the recently held elections in Haiti…. Through her organization, she has been a strong voice of Haiti advocacy, human rights work and Haiti news analysis.

Laurent, an award-winning playwright, performance poet, political and social commentator, author and human rights attorney, will speak at York University, the University of Toronto, a local bookstore and two lounges while in Toronto.

On air

  • Daniel Drache, political science professor in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies and acting director of the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies, took part in a panel discussion on the question, “Is Canada governable?”, on TVO’s “The Agenda” April 13.
  • Leo Panitch, Canada Research Chair in Comparative Political Economy and Distinguished Research Professor of political science in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, spoke about the recent federal leaders’ debate, on AM640 radio April 13.
  • Bob Drummond, political science professor in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, spoke about non-verbal messaging in the federal leaders’ debate, on Global TV April 13.
  • Glendon student Courtney Tresidder took part in a discussion about what drugs and drinks young people are consuming these days and why, on TFO-TV April 13.