Artist will not show up for final day of his performance exhibition – on purpose

Artist Daniel Olson‘s Three Ghosts exhibition will soon haunt La Galerie du Nouvel Ontario (GNO) on Elgin Street, wrote the Sudbury Star April 21. Olson’s exhibition will take place from May 5 to 8. Art patrons will get a unique audio portion of the exhibit, depending on what day and at what times they are at the gallery.

Beginning May 5 at 8pm, Olson [MFA ’95] will sit in the GNO’s right-side gallery window, typing on his typewriter, "writing a text that will never be read." The sounds Olson makes will be projected by speaker onto Elgin Street, where the gallery is located, beside Little Montreal.

On May 6 at 8pm, Olson will perch in the left-side gallery window, playing improvisations on a miniature piano with no musical arrangement, which will, again, be projected by speaker in to the night on Elgin Street.

On May 7, Olson will wander aimlessly through the gallery, and the sounds of his steps will be projected on to Elgin St.

For the final day of the exhibition May 8, the gallery will be completely empty. Only the sounds of Olson’s previous performances will be heard, as an audio collage of recordings of the three evenings that preceded the exhibition will be all that occupies the GNO’s space.

Olson, who holds a BA in mathematics, architectural and visual arts from the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design to go with his master of fine arts in Visual Arts [from] York University, has had his art shown across Canada and in Europe. The 56-year-old artist currently lives in Montreal, and contrary to the title of his exhibition, does not believe in the supernatural.

York University boosts its security

York University has boosted its campus security ranks and hired off-duty police officers to patrol overnight after the slaying last weekend of a student living in a private housing complex next to the Keele campus, wrote Metro Toronto April 21.

Toronto police have also “significantly increased” patrols – both undercover and uniformed officers on bikes – throughout the student subdivision, dubbed The Village, following the murder of Qian Liu, who came from China last fall to study English.

“The York community is mourning the loss of one of our students, Qian Liu,” President Mamdouh Shoukri said in a statement yesterday. “At this difficult time there is a heightened level of concern among students about safety. Safety has been and remains a top priority at York University.”

York’s student federation will host a forum today to hear students’ concerns over safety at Canada’s third-largest university. In addition to the slaying, one female student was assaulted and a young woman was raped in an overgrown field near The Village in the past few weeks.

Federation president Vanessa Hunt, [president-elect of the York Federation of Students] said York does not seem to take safety seriously enough, and called for compulsory diversity training for all students – the female student was attacked after identifying herself as a lesbian outside a campus pub – and compulsory safety training for all newcomers to Canada, like Liu.

“International students need more support and safety tips and that support needs to be mandatory. I know, I’m an international student,” said Hunt, who came to York in 2005 from St. Maarten.

  • Hunt, also spoke about students’ safety concerns on radio and television stations in Toronto, Oshawa, Thunder Bay and Burnaby, B.C. April 20.
  • Relatives in China of murdered York University student Liu Qian, as well as her long-distance boyfriend who believes he witnessed part of the attack, expressed relief Thursday that someone had been arrested and charged in the murder, wrote The Globe and Mail Apr. 21.

“I was told the news by police. I feel now a bit better. A big rock in my heart finally landed on the ground,” said Meng Xiaochao, who witnessed on web as Liu let someone she seemed to know into her room at 1am Friday night. The man tried to hug her, then the two struggled while Meng watched helplessly from afar.

Meng said he didn’t know anything about Brian Dickson, the 29-year-old Toronto man charged Wednesday with first-degree murder in the case.

Police still haven’t established a cause of death, and are still looking for Liu’s laptop computer, which Meng saw the assailant close during the struggle.

Liu’s parents arrived in Toronto Wednesday shortly after Dickson’s arrest was announced. Her father, Liu Jianhui, is research director at The Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, which trains party officials.

  • A 29-year-old Toronto man has been charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of 23-year-old York University student Qian Liu, wrote the Toronto Star April 21.

Brian Dickson is scheduled to appear in court Thursday morning.

Police…stressed that a photograph of man circulating in Chinese-language Internet chatrooms, purported to be connected to the killing, is not of Dickson.

This week, the Star reported that Liu had been stalked by a man, painted as a rejected suitor in a popular Chinese chatroom. However, police said there is no evidence of “criminal stalking.”

The head of the Toronto police homicide squad said a new “team approach” to investigating murders – assigning a team of detectives to a fresh case instead of just two – led to the quick arrest. The approach, used by the highly successfully Peel police force, means a witness can be interviewed five times if necessary.

Police put out a description of the suspect but never said whether they had interviewed more than one person matching that profile.

  • The story continued to receive coverage in numerous newspapers, broadcasts and electronic media around the world.

To see the ignored

When the curtain falls on Nakai’s newest play The River, Michael Greyeyes will be happy if no one claps, wrote the Yukon News April 20, in a story about the York theatre professor’s latest directing effort.

"My re-engineering of the audiences’ perspective is: we’re gathered for an event," said the director. "It’s not a show, it’s not a play or a theatre event. It’s a communal gathering to hear what we shouldn’t have ignored. "It’s unsettling for the audience, and that’s the point."

Greyeyes was called to the piece by York University colleague [Professor] Judith Rudakoff [Faculty of Fine Arts].

Rudakoff, together with David Skelton and Joseph Tisiga, wrote a play that looks at the lives of people living on the fringe. "The play is inspired by the notion of ghost populations," she said. "Ghost populations are everything from homeless people to alien abductees – it’s a term used by the Canadian government for people who don’t have a fixed address. So it could be a tourist, an itinerant worker. We’re looking at invisible populations in Whitehorse who are there, they’re just not seen."

The writing trio spent numerous hours at Whitehorse’s Salvation Army, speaking to people but not stealing from them, said Rudakoff. "It’s not based on anyone’s life," she said. "That would be appropriating their stories and we feel their stories are their own to tell."

Many of the people at the shelter did inspire the work however and the play is dedicated to them, said Rudakoff.

But it is not only about homelessness or poverty, Greyeyes stresses. "It’s about voicelessness," he said. "And there’s no borders."

But even if people are confused, Greyeyes is not concerned about losing the message.

"This play has no centralized message," he said. "Each character has messages. It’s an experience."

Opening night at the Yukon Arts Centre is this Friday, April 22, at 7:30pm.

Why ‘ethnic’ communities should not support Stephen Harper’s Conservatives

A group of Canadian immigration lawyers, practitioners, and academics [including Sean Rehaag, professor in York’s Osgoode Hall Law School] issued (April 20) the following open letter, wrote Vancouver’s Georgia Straight April 20, in a story reprinting the letter.

Despite the media hype and government propaganda, Canadian immigration experts, both academics and lawyers, do not think that the Conservative government is doing immigrant communities any favours, [wrote the signatories].

Stephen Harper, Jason Kenney and the Conservatives have targeted the so-called "ethnic vote," hoping to convince immigrant communities that the Conservatives have made things better for their communities and that these communities should support them. However, a review of the facts shows that this government’s policies have not been friendly to immigrant communities. Moreover, the Conservative government has made a habit of using immigration issues to stir up anti-immigrant sentiments amongst other Canadians.

As academics and lawyers and other practitioners who specialize in immigration law and human rights, we are firmly committed to basic Canadian values of equality and respect for all Canadians, regardless of country of origin. We believe that the rule of law should not be undermined by political ideology. We value the wealth and wisdom of our multi-cultural society and understand that we will thrive as a country by cultivating our common Canadian qualities and not by exploiting our differences for partisan gain.

If you believe in the concept of family reunification, that is the ability of immigrants and Canadians to bring their parents, grandparents, children and spouses to Canada; if you believe in a fair and timely skilled worker program that recruits the best and the brightest from around the world to join our midst; if you believe in justice for refugees without automatic imprisonment; if you believe in spousal sponsorship processing that does not lead to the potential for greater spousal abuse and neglect, then you must not support the Conservative Party in the upcoming Federal Election on May 2.

FES Dean ‘disappointed’ with Canada’s efforts on the environment

"I really think the government must do much, much more than they are now," says Barbara Rahder, dean of the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University, wrote PostMedia News April 21, in a story about environmental issues and the 20th anniversary of Earth Day Canada.

"My biggest disappointment is with Canadian public policy around environmental issues and our role on the world stage. We used to be environmental leaders. Now we’re on the opposite end of the reputational continuum and almost shunned at international conferences."

More York grads in the running…

Voters in Carleton-Mississippi Mills keep telling Gordon O’Connor [BA ’82] they would like to see a majority government elected to the House of Commons, wrote Almonte/Carleton Place EMC, April 21.

"I hope they mean a Conservative majority," remarked the veteran politician as he continues to hit the campaign trail leading up to the May 2 federal election.

O’Connor was first elected to Parliament in 2004 and re-elected in 2006 and again in 2008. O’Connor has a BA in philosophy from York University.

  • Alyssa Brierley [MA ’05, JD ’09], lawyer, doctoral student, world traveller and legal/human rights advocate, has packed in a lot of academic learning and practical experience into her 31 years, wrote April 20.

The Hamilton-born, Dundas-raised Burlington resident is carrying the Liberal banner for the riding of Burlington in the May 2 federal election.

Brierley has carried her volunteer ethic with her to higher institutions of learning. She was one of 10 students, out of 300, who received the Dean’s Gold Key for outstanding volunteer service while she studied law at Osgoode Hall in Toronto, graduating in 2009.

She has economics and political science degrees from the University of Waterloo and a Master’s degree in political science from York University. Her PhD studies in international relations and global politics is on hold for now as Brierley makes a run at becoming an MP.

  • Simon Strelchik is the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Public Policy Administration and Law. He also serves on the Faculty of Graduate Studies Council at York University as program representative, wrote Brampton’s South Asian Focus April 20.

Strelchik was chief organizer of the World Vision 30 Hour Famine in his community, working to raise money and address world hunger and poverty. He is a founding member of the renowned charity Free the Children, an organization that works to fund schools, send medical supplies and clean water kits, and provide income generating training programs for families in 45 developing countries.

On air

  • 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 healthcare as an election issue, on AM640 radio April 20.
  • Guy Bernard Proulx, psychology professor at York’s Glendon College, spoke about a new advance in the study of Alzheimer’s disease, on Radio Canada Toronto April 20.
  • Martin Lockshin, associate director of York’s Israel and Golda Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Studies, spoke about the Book of Exodus, on CBC Radio’s “Ideas” April 20.
  • Tony Fang, professor in York’s School of Human Resource Management in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, spoke about recent studies that show the economic benefits of increasing immigration levels to Canada, on OMNI TV April 20.