Canuck ‘Kim’s Convenience’ play gets celebrity customer and interest from TV

Two years after its debut in Toronto, the hit homegrown play Kim’s Convenience – about a Korean-Canadian family and its convenience store – is still very much open for business, reported Canadian Press in a story published in the Nanaimo Daily News July 8. And it’s snagged the attention of the TV industry as well as a certain celebrity who wants to bring it to the U.S. Toronto playwright-actor Ins Choi‘s charming stage comedy-drama was a smash when it debuted at the 2011 Toronto Fringe Festival, winning the New Play Contest and the Patron’s Pick award. That led to a sold-out showcase and then a remount at the city’s Soulpepper Theatre Company, followed by two Dora Award nominations and the Toronto Theatre Critics trophy for best new Canadian play. The Korean-born, Toronto-raised graduate of York University’s theatre school started writing Kim’s Convenience as a vignette in 2005 under a playwriting unit in the Fu-GEN Asian Canadian Theatre company. Read full story 

A grim military past on Japan’s cuddly ‘Rabbit Island’
The pretty little island of Okunoshima is known for two things: It was there that the Japanese military once cooked up chemical weapons, a mission so guarded that the spot did not exist on official World War II-era maps. And it is totally overrun by fluffy bunny rabbits, reported the Los Angeles Times July 7. Records on the island were burned after Japan’s surrender in 1945, York University senior scholar B.T. Wakabayashi told the reporter. Despite the monuments and some writings by leftist historians, “I don’t know if the general public knows even today” about what once happened there, Wakabayashi said in an email. Read full story. 

Media coverage of higher education – from propaganda to watchdog
In many senses, the media is still state controlled in China and does not enjoy genuine freedom of speech. Yet the relationship between the media and higher education is multi-faceted, highlighting changing roles, focuses and approaches, write Qiang Zha, a professor in the Faculty of Education at York University, and Xiaoyang Wang in University World News July 6. Read full story. 

Ontario bee farmer hoping for pesticide ban to end die-off
Just two years ago, Dave Schuit’s honeybee hives were thriving and he was planning an expansion of the family business, reported July 5. But in the last year, an astounding 37 million of his bees in 600 hives have died and he doesn’t know if he’ll have any honey harvest at all this year. Now, he’s joining a growing number of beekeepers across the country pointing the finger of blame at a group of pesticides they say needs to be banned. They’re called neonicotinoids, and as their name suggests, they derive from nicotine. Honeybee researcher Clement Kent, from York University’s Department of Biology, says farmers first started using neonicotinoids about 20 years ago and their use has grown ever since. “These have been some of the bestsellers in the pesticide market for the last 10 years, and they’re used on all kinds of crops,” he told Canada AM. Read full story.

The weird, wild world of comics artist Michael DeForge
Welcome to the world of Toronto cartoonist Michael DeForge, begins a review by Sean Rogers, a PhD candidate at York University, of Very Casual and Lose in The Globe and Mail July 5. Here, you will discover that zebras are in fact extinct – zoos paint stripes on horses and donkeys, effectively hoaxing the public. DeForge’s world is not for the squeamish. But it is one whose grotesqueries increasingly mirror, rather than distort, the mundane world with which we think we are familiar, concludes Rogers. Read full story.

Purple martin pursuit at Ellis Bird Farm
After a 21,000-km journey, four purple martins returned to Ellis Bird Farm a year after they had been given geolocators, reported the Red Deer Advocate July 5. Last summer, Kevin Fraser, who studies migratory bird behaviour at York University in Toronto, put the tracking devices on about 20 purple martins in the region, the northern most part of the birds’ range. “We knew they probably spent their winters somewhere in South America but we didn’t really know specifically where,” said Fraser. “If you want to conserve a population of birds, you need to know where they are.” Read full story.

Digital sexism and video games
Despite occasional brilliance, video games can allow the worst of people to shine through, perhaps because they believe there is no consequence for what they say, wrote The St. Catharine’s Standard July 8. Take the case of Anita Sarkeesian, a York University grad who produces a web series titled “Women vs. Tropes” that examines how women are depicted in popular media. When she started fundraising for an episode on video games, an avalanche of abuse followed. She even received hate mail in the form of pictures of her getting raped by video-game characters. The abuse actually fuelled her fundraising campaign to the point where she is able to make three episodes instead of one. Read full story.

Durie and Foley will put friendship on hold for game
Andre Durie was hanging out with his best friend on the Toronto Argonauts, having just won the Grey Cup, reported the Toronto Sun July 8. Times change. Sometimes in a hurry. Durie’s good pal is Ricky Foley. Just more than a month after being named most valuable Canadian in the 100th edition of the CFL’s title game in his backyard last November, Foley hit the free-agent market. Ten days later, Foley, a farm boy from Courtice, skipped town, opting to sign with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Two friends will become enemies on the field for the first time in their pro careers. Durie and Foley were attached at the hip. Having both attended York University and rising to prominence out of the Ontario scene, they immediately shared common ground.  Read full story.

‘Is the BA a ticket to nowhere?’
“In these uncertain times, we should respect students’ academic choices and encourage them to pursue their passions. Most enter university at age 18, still figuring out the next steps in their lives. Few come with clear career goals in mind. Some are talented at writing, economics and creative thinking, others at math and applied technical learning. The majority of students in Canada enrol in the humanities and social sciences because these fields include subjects that best speak to their interests and talents,” co-wrote York University education Professor Paul Axelrod in the Hamilton Spectator July 3. “At its best, liberal arts education cultivates intellectual resilience, critical thinking and informed participation in community life. Its graduates play a central role in sustaining and building civil society.” Read full story.

New Brunswick twins identical DNA made for difficult conviction in deadly home invasion
Police investigating a deadly home invasion in New Brunswick found key evidence on gloves and a mask linked to the crime – DNA that can pinpoint a culprit with scientific certainty; except in this case, where it led to twin brothers with identical DNA, prompting a courtroom conundrum where science could not reveal which brother it came from….“It is a rare occurrence,” said Ricardo Federico, a Toronto defence lawyer and adjunct professor of forensic evidence at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, in the National Post July 3. “Can it raise reasonable doubt? The issue of identity is crucial at trial. A person’s identity must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.” Read full story.

Feds back cost-saving automotive invention
It was during Stefano Plati’s time at York University when he came up with an idea that could possibly put Canada on the international automotive map, reported the North York Mirror July 3. On Tuesday at York’s Keele campus, Plati was presented with a contribution of up to $750,000 from the federal government for his company, Vida Holdings Corp., to develop and commercialize its Multi-Chamber Catalytic Converter (MCCC). Read full story.

Companies vie for chance to build deep-water refuelling depot in Nunavut
Construction companies have a week left to convince government officials they’re able to build the military’s long-delayed deep-water refuelling depot in Nanisivik, Nunavut, and should be invited to submit a bid. The government estimates construction will cost $56 million….Defence policy expert and York University Professor Martin Shadwick says the facility is badly needed. “It will give them some options they’ve not had in the past,” said Shadwick in the Toronto Sun July 2. Read full story.

Schulich launches Regulatory Affairs stream
The Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto announced Tuesday a new specialization in Regulatory Affairs for Financial Institutions as part its Master of Finance program. “The Regulatory Affairs specialization is Schulich’s answer to the heightened worldwide demand for practitioners trained to succeed within an increasingly regulated banking industry,” said Schulich School of Business Dean Dezsö J. Horváth in Investment Executive July 2. Read full story.

Big pharma meets weak resistance at Canadian medical schools: study
The first comprehensive study of conflict-of-interest guidelines at Canada’s 17 medical schools has uncovered big holes in the policies intended to restrict the influence of the pharmaceutical industry….“The faculty and student relationships with industry are very poorly regulated,” said study author Adrienne Shnier, a PhD candidate at York University’s School of Health Policy and Management, in the Toronto Star July 4. “This means that industry has the ability to influence the resources that are provided to medical students[…]and influence the information that is taught to medical students.” Read full story.

Macbeth at High Park: Smart and streamlined Shakespeare
Canadian Stage’s Shakespeare in High Park – Canada’s longest-running outdoor theatre event, now in its 31st year – has always been a joy to attend on a warm summer night. In recent years, however, the source of the pleasure seems to be shifting from the setting to the Shakespeare. Following on the heels of Richard Rose’s rejuvenated A Midsummer Night’s Dream last year, we now get the short, sharp shock of Ker Wells’s smart and streamlined production of Macbeth….Wells, the director, is one of the first two graduates from a new directing program run by York University with Canadian Stage; the other, Ted Witzel, will be directing The Taming of the Shrew in repertory in High Park, but that doesn’t open for a couple of weeks, reported The Globe and Mail July 4. Read full story.

Macbeth, a tragedy in High Park: Review
As part of the renamed Shakespeare in High Park, Canadian Stage, in association with York University’s theatre department, is presenting Macbeth in repertory with The Taming of the Shrew, wrote the Toronto Star July 7.  Macbeth is now up and running – or limping – in what is a lacklustre production. There are lots of problems with staging a dark and gory tragedy in the open air for family consumption, and director Ker Wells and his team don’t come close to solving many of them.  Read full story.

Don’t let the YouTube videos fool you. Wild beasts are not cuddly
Earlier this week, two lions attacked an 18-year-old woman from Montreal who was volunteering at a wildlife rehabilitation centre in South Africa. Lauren Fagen was apparently trying to kiss the fur of a large male lion when it reached through the bars and dragged her legs into the cage. A female lion joined the attack….“We live in a sanitized version of nature, where all animals are cute and cuddly and we are ‘protected’ from reality,” said York University Professor Suzanne MacDonald in The Globe and Mail July 4. She said most television programs gloss over the fact that wild animals are vicious, and rip apart their prey. Read full story.

The private industry is as rich as the CBC
“As the financial plight of the CBC/Radio-Canada deepens, there are signs of a genuine debate emerging about how to restore the public broadcaster to health, and sort out the industry at large,” wrote York University communication studies Professor Wade Rowland in the Huffington Post July 4. “A rational reorganization of the Canadian media environment would take advertising away from CBC television (CBC radio has been advertising-free since 1975) and hand the entire market over to the private industry. In return, it would strip away most, if not all, of the morally hazardous, market-distorting influence of government subsidies in the private media industry, and invest that public money in the public broadcaster, where it belongs.” Read full story.

Questions in wake of sunrise
“The Star’s readers may be surprised to learn that, despite the Sunrise disaster, the basic institutional model behind of the Technical Standards and Safety Authority and other ‘Delegated Administrative Authorities’ (DAAs) remains at the core of the province’s vision for ‘modern government’,” wrote York University environmental studies Professor Mark Winfield in the Toronto Star July 4. Read full story.

Building consensus
For those keeping track, Canada’s Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin’s list of accomplishments is astounding – and still growing. On Sept. 22, the country’s first female top judge adds the distinction of becoming the longest-serving chief justice in the Supreme Court of Canada’s 138-year history. Early next year, McLachlin also marks 25 years on the high court, making her one of the most seasoned Supremes of all time. All this as she heads into the final stages of her judicial career.…“I think the court at this point in time very much bears the McLachlin hallmark, and although there are exceptions, I see the court as a cautious, as a pragmatic and compromise-seeking court,” said Osgoode Hall Law School Professor Jamie Cameron in Canadian Lawyer’s July issue. Read full story.

Act 3: #Cacuss2013 – The perspectives of four first-time attendees
“If I had to summarize the main take-away from [the 2013 Canadian Association of College & University Student Services Conference], one common thread sticks out to me: the value of holistic and integrated approaches to student development and service delivery,” said Glendon College Office of Student Affairs Assistant David Ip Yam in Supporting Student Success July 5. “Imperative to such an approach is the creation of intentional partnerships and the breakdown of traditional and artificial silos. Some keys to such a shift are effective leadership and the development of sustainable and collaborative relationships across the campus – a community working together, for the students.” Read full story.

Criminal past fails to stop fraudster from practising law

The Law Society of Upper Canada has granted legal licences to at least five people with criminal histories in the last five years, reported The Windsor Star July 6.  Fraud, theft of money, theft of credit cards and altering or forging documents – Kathryn Smithen has at least 38 convictions over 14 years, until 1993, when she was finally jailed for 18 months. Smithen, who went back to school and earned a journalism degree from Ryerson University in 2002 and a law degree from York University’s Osgoode Hall in 2008, said she deserves her licence. Read full story.