Politician, not jury, to pick Holocaust monument design

The federal government has assembled an eminent seven-member jury to evaluate entries in a design competition for the new national Holocaust monument planned for a site across from the Canadian War Museum, reported the Ottawa Citizen June 16. But the panel of experts won’t make the final choice; a politician will. The jury includes Irving Abella, a prominent history professor at York University, famed architect Raymond Moriyama, Toronto artist-curator Ydesse Hendeles, artist Herzl Kashetsky, landscape architect Greg Smallenberg, Margi Oksner, executive director of the National Holocaust Monument Development Council, and Vera Schiff-Katz, a Holocaust survivor whose entire family perished in Nazi death camps. Read full story.

Wade Rowland: A better model
“The federal Conservatives are holding a policy conference this month in Calgary, and the future of the CBC is on the agenda. Floor resolutions include suggestions for ‘moving toward a user-supported model,’ and ‘elimination of all public funding of the corporation which creates unfair competitive advantage with privately owned and operated networks and stations,’” wrote York University communication studies Professor Wade Rowland in the National Post June 13. “While this may make some sense in the abstract, the fact is that Canada simply is not populous enough, nor well-enough endowed with foundations and philanthropists, to support a broadcast system that would provide anything like the level of service currently expected of the CBC.” Read full story.

Report on Rehtaeh Parsons suicide says her absence from school was missed red flag
Rehtaeh Parsons’s extended absences should have acted as a red flag for schools that the teen was suffering from emotional and mental distress and needed help, say two respected educators charged with reviewing how the Halifax school board handled her case. “They were concerned about it, I think, from a learning perspective,” said psychologist and York University Professor Debra Pepler in The Globe and Mail June 14. “What we would like schools to think about is that in some cases, this kind of chronic absence from school is maybe an indication of mental-health problems, that a young person is really struggling.” Read full story.

How Brampton demonstrates the new vision of Canada
Brampton is anything but going backward. With a population approaching 550,000 – two-thirds of which are members of visible minorities, and with a significantly younger face than most of the country – a place most outsiders still consider a sleepy little suburb just west of Toronto is suddenly the nation’s ninth-largest city, not far behind Vancouver.…Brampton is the site of innovations in urban planning and design, health care, education and policing – as well as the tensions that come with vast change. “Brampton is at the forefront of something that hasn’t existed before in Canada,” said Roger Keil, a director at the City Institute at York University, in The Globe and Mail June 17. Read full story.

Entrepreneur returns to his roots
Over the 30 years he has lived in California and made his fortune as a technology entrepreneur, Windsor native and York University alumnus Doug Bergeron has remained a Canadian citizen…. He and his wife Sandra recently donated $2 million to establish the Bergeron Entrepreneurs in Science and Technology program at Toronto’s York University. Bergeron completed his computer science degree there in 1983 before moving to California. He returned Monday to receive an honorary degree and address graduating science and engineering students, urging them to “spawn an idea or an invention and start a business and hire a bunch of people and make a fortune shamelessly. Then give back, either financially or with your own time or talents,” reported the Windsor Star June 15. Read full story.

The end of the ‘Golden Age’ for university graduates
“Some 500,000 students have just graduated from Canada’s postsecondary education system, and the great majority will be hoping to find a decent job and to embark upon a meaningful career,” wrote Andrew Jackson, the Packer professor of social justice at York University, in The Globe and Mail June 14. “Unfortunately, the employment prospects for many graduates are pretty dismal, for reasons that deserve serious reflection. Not only are unemployment and underemployment for young people currently at high levels, there is a growing structural mismatch between educational achievement and the jobs that graduates are likely to find.” Read full story.

Walk with Excellence redefines graduation at Jane-Finch: James
Drums pounding, parents and educators beaming, more than 200 students celebrated the end of high school Friday with a rolling, rollicking parade that stretched nearly a kilometre on the edge of Jane and Finch, reported the Toronto Star June 14….The unique graduation exercise saw Grade 12 students from Downsview Secondary School, C. W. Jeffreys Collegiate and Westview Secondary School walk from Jeffreys up to York University – a journey that was foreshadowing and symbolic and real all at once. Wearing white T-shirts stamped with a special poem from Toronto poet laureate George Elliott Clarke, the students turned off Sentinel onto Pond Road and roared at the big sign, “Congrats – York Univ. Redefine the possible.” Read full story.

Meet Beverley McLachlin, Canada’s longest-serving chief justice
Beverley McLachlin had no career goal and little self-confidence when she went to university in the 1960s, let alone the faintest notion that she would one day become a role model to young women across the country. More than 50 years later, perched on the threshold of legal history as the longest-serving chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, she says the symbolism of her gender is a constant source of astonishment….“Ideally, she would like to minimize controversy and leave a significant legacy,” said Bruce Ryder, a constitutional law expert at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School, in The Globe and Mail June 15. “She picks her battles accordingly. She works hard to forge a consensus on the court and often succeeds on big issues.” Read full story.

Law through a different lens
Visual artist Cindy Blažević has been selected as Osgoode Hall Law School’s new artist in residence for a term during the 2013-14 school year, reported Canadian Lawyer June 17. Blažević, a documentary photographer, will teach an upper-year elective course that explores justice and the law. Specifically, she has proposed to take students to the Kingston Penitentiary on the night of its decommissioning – scheduled to take place in April 2014 – and photograph its interior and interview key stakeholders. Read full story.

Ideacity: Toronto’s Jaffa Road revives ancient music and wisdom
This Thursday at Koerner Hall on Bloor Street West, Jaffa Road will be one of about 50 presenters over the three days of Ideacity – a roster of economists, engineers, entrepreneurs, inventors, physicists, geneticists and environmentalists, not to mention a teen genius in cancer research – given 17 minutes to tell the story of an idea, reported the Toronto Star June 14. Jaffa Road – comprised of guitarist Aaron Lightstone; the entrancing vocalist Aviva Chernick; saxophonist, flautist and York University music Professor Sundar Viswanathan; percussionist and producer Jeff Wilson; bassist and producer Chris Gartner – finds meaning in the genesis of the invitation. Read full story.

Twitter, apps link aboriginal people
Toronto’s First Nations population is mostly scattered across the city, rather than in visible neighbourhoods. “There is kind of an invisibility that’s not true, say, in Winnipeg or Saskatoon,” said York University instructor Victoria Freeman in the StarPhoenix June 15. “The Toronto population at large often is unaware there are indigenous people in the city at all, or that indigenous people ever lived there.” She and Heather Howard of Michigan State University hope to change that with a new smartphone app…It’s a modern update of The Great Indian Bus Tour of Toronto, which used to show people the city through aboriginal eyes. Read full story.