York psychologist says better support is needed for retiring players

The hockey enforcer gives his team a sense of security in the heat of battle – a debt that people should think more about repaying in civilian life. Certainly, the deaths this past summer of three National Hockey League players who excelled in that taxing job, the latest, Wade Belak, taking his own life on Wednesday, has given pause for thought, wrote The Toronto Sun Sept. 1.

"These guys played a really difficult role, but things change and people leave the game," said Paul Dennis, a York University sports psychologist and former staffer with the Maple Leafs. "We’ve got to support them the way they once supported us.

"We talk a lot about resilience after losing a game, every coach telling you to get right back up the next day after a loss. But we need to employ social resilience, too.

"The culture of sport, the brave face, is great. But sometimes that culture keeps a lot of things inside. That has to change. I’m not condemning people for not getting involved with these players. When Wade played, he was very open in his optimism, but it goes to prove we all have demons. We don’t know what those demons are if they’re not telling us. But I think the time has come to bring these stresses to light.

"A young man is gone, but hopefully there is a silver lining, something to be learned that can help other players," said Dennis. "Hopefully, more players can come forward and tell us what is troubling them and we won’t put this issue on the back burner any longer. There is nothing more valuable than life itself."

Dennis travelled many miles with Belak during the latter’s seven years as a Leaf. "He would pick up everyone’s spirits," Dennis recalled. "Players would just gravitate to him. He never got to contribute a lot in the course of a game, but he was a guy who always saw the big picture, who never considered himself exceptional because he was a Leaf. He made us feel inadequate because he was so optimistic. This is just devastating."

Staying safe on campus

With tens of thousands of students across Canada returning to institutions of higher learning this week, their safety and well-being are part of the administration’s responsibility. It’s a job that Toronto’s York University takes very seriously, wrote The Brantford Expositor Sept. 1.

According to a safety update released last week, the University will be increasing security personnel on campus and expanding shuttle services. They’ve also updated their emergency phone system and added door alarms and CCTV cameras to residences. Additionally, the University has implemented a Management Safety Committee and a Sexual Assault Initiatives Committee.

Wallace Pidgeon, associate director of media relations at York, says they’re taking a holistic approach. "It’s not just about a community-based security and safety service, but about making sure that at our upcoming orientation week, for example, we have briefings, tutorials, meetings and events…with (campus safety) in mind."

Mirror on the bathroom and Hackney on a plate

From educational mobility to "robot-cow relationships", energy management to "the spacing of emotion", the annual international conference of the Royal Geographical Society ranged across every imaginable aspect of human life, and sometimes beyond, wrote Times Higher Education Sept. 1.

Sheila Cavanagh, professor of sociology at York University [Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies] in Toronto, chaired a session of Queer Bathroom Monologues, a stage performance based on 100 interviews with "lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer folk about their experiences in public facilities," This drew on stories she was unable to use in her 2010 book on the subject, Queering Bathrooms: Gender, Sexuality, and the Hygienic Imagination.

They ran, she said, "from the devastating to the sublime, the traumatic to the passionate, the mundane to the comic and everything in between".

The dramatic format made it possible to "capture emotion along with inter-subjectivity in ways that are often lost in academic texts".

The conference at the Royal Geographical Society’s headquarters in London opened on Aug. 31 and will finish on Sept. 2.

Patent trollers snare York student over $1 BlackBerry app

The patent wars have hit a BlackBerry app developer, who says he is being sued for providing a link to a paid app, wrote the Toronto Star Sept. 1, in a story about Research in Motion Ltd.

York University student Yissachar Radcliffe says he got notice of a patent infringement claim this week from Lodsys, LLC, a non-operating company based in Marshall, Tex., that has been accused of patent trolling, existing only to take aggressive legal action.

Lodsys, which owns a patent for app payment methods, is threatening action over Radcliffe’s Lonely Turret BlackBerry PlayBook game, which sells for less than a dollar. A free version of the game contains a link to a BlackBerry app marketplace, where users can buy the premium version of the game.

Hudak clings to slight lead in new poll

Now that the Liberals and NDP have begun to fire up their own campaign machines, however, the lustre [on the Conservatives’ lead in the polls] has faded, wrote the Windsor Star Sept. 1 . "The campaign is beginning to become visible to people and they may be changing their minds a bit," said York University political scientist Robert Drummond [Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies].

Respect, gratitude and personal ‘merci’ for Jack Layton

Jack Layton [MA ’72, PhD ’83], leader of the official Opposition in our country’s Parliament, has died, wrote columnist Ryan Young [MES ’04] in the Montreal Gazette Sept. 1.

I met Layton on a number of occasions. The first time was in 2000, when I was living in Toronto, studying at York University. I was part of the studio audience during a taping of CBC Television’s current affairs discussion show “CounterSpin” with host Avi Lewis…. As usual, Layton was marvellous to watch in this televised debate – wonderfully passionate and speaking with great conviction. I immediately noticed that he had arrived for the taping of the show by bicycle, sauntering into the studio with his bike helmet still on his head. He definitely knew how to walk his talk.

York grad’s heart-warming festival doc features Muskoka

Karen Shopsowitz [MFA ’90] makes documentaries, wrote CottageCountryNow.ca Aug. 31. “I love stories, and I like real stories,” said Shopsowitz, director of One Summer at Camp Winston, one of the feature films for Huntsville’s international film festival, Film North, in September.

Shopsowitz and her crew began filming One Summer at Camp Winston in summer 2009, after a producer mentioned the Severn Bridge-based camp to her. She said she visited the camp and was astounded by the impact it had on the children who went there.

Camp Winston provides recreational opportunities for children with complex neurological disorders, including autism, Tourette’s syndrome and Asperger’s syndrome.

But Shopsowitz said the camp offered more than just activities. It gave the children a feeling of belonging, a chance at friendships and a sense of accomplishment.

She said the inspiring children and supportive camp counsellors along with the picturesque Muskokan setting made for an unforgettable filming experience. “You’re telling this very important story and you’re meeting these amazing people, but you’re also in Muskoka on a lake,” she said, complimenting the scenery. “And it’s also great for the kids to be in that environment.”

Shopsowitz is a producer, director, editor and writer with a master of fine arts degree in film and video from York University [Faculty of Fine Arts] and a bachelor of journalism degree from Carleton University in Ottawa. One Summer at Camp Winston was produced in association with the CBC’s documentary channel and premiered last summer.

York science grad’s short cut film premieres at TIFF

Between Sept. 8 and 18 the Toronto International Film Festival will screen some 300 films from all over the world, including the Trinidad and Tobago-made Doubles with Slight Pepper. Directed by Ian Harnarine [BSc’02], it will be part of the Short Cuts Canada section.

Harnarine grew up in Toronto and studied physics & astronomy at York University [Faculty of Science & Engineering], before moving to Chicago to earn a master’s degree in nuclear physics. Doubles with Slight Pepper is his directorial debut.

The Eulogizer: Art patron Ayala Zacks Abramov

Ayala Zacks Abramov, a collector of modern and Israeli art who gave scores of works to museums in Israel and Canada, died Aug. 29 at 99 in Tel Aviv, wrote the Canadian Jewish News Aug. 31 in an obituary.

Canada’s York University has the Samuel J. Zacks Art Gallery, named for her second husband, a successful businessman and artist.

On air

  • Mamdouh Shoukri, president & vice-chancellor of York University, spoke about the record level of student enrolment, on CBC Radio’s “Metro Morning” Sept. 1. York’s announcement about its record numbers was also mentioned on 680 NEWS radio Sept. 1.
  • Pat Armour, a buyer at the York University Bookstore, spoke about her work trying to make sure textbooks appear on store shelves before term begins, on CBC Radio’s “Metro Morning” Sept. 1.