Dying Toronto girl gets love from hero, peers

Inspired by a video of Olivia Wise, a 16-year-old girl with terminal brain cancer, singing Katy Perry’s hit song “Roar”, some 1,500 university and high school students participated in making a video for her, reported the Times of Israel Nov. 18. . . . Zev Gasner, a 20-year-old student who sits on the student executive board at Hillel at York University, was so moved by Wise’s video that he felt he had to do something more than just make a donation to a fund in her name raising money for pediatric brain cancer research. . . . Gasner and his friends mobilized students at five Ontario Hillels and eight local high schools to express their wishes for Wise on small posters and be photographed with them for a “Roar for Olivia Wise” video. The posters were bound in to four scrapbooks and delivered to Wise’s family home this past weekend. Read full story.

Massive new solar farm puts Canada in elite club
The solar portion of the Grand Renewable Solar Project is being developed by Samsung, Canadian Solar and ABB Canada. . . . It is a significant step forward in adding renewable energy to Ontario’s grid and reducing reliance on coal and other fossil fuels to keep the lights on. It also catapults Ontario into an elite club of countries like Germany and Denmark who are at the forefront of making solar a mainstay of their energy production strategy. “It is an interesting trend in that it’s showing that Canada can be at the forefront of this worldwide energy revolution,” said York University environmental studies Professor Jose Etcheverry, co-chair of the Toronto-based Sustainable Energy Initiative, in the Financial Post Nov. 19. “The reality is that PV [photovoltaic] prices have come down big time, which makes a project like this make all the more sense.” Read full story.

Antipsychotic drug use higher at Thunder Bay nursing homes
York University Professor Joel Lexchin said antipsychotic drugs put long-term care residents at higher risk of falling or having a stroke, but the medications are still used because of inadequate resources. “We don’t have enough staff, sometimes staff [members] aren’t properly trained,” he said in CBC News Nov. 18. “So what we do instead is we . . . medicate these people to make them less demanding, in effect.” Read full story.

Activists raise enough funds to open Canada’s first dedicated support centre for men in Toronto
Activists say they now have funding to open the first Canadian Centre for Men and Families by next spring, reported the National Post Nov. 18. The Toronto centre will be the first dedicated and funded place for men to discuss issues of equality, fatherlessness, declining enrolment and increasing suicide rates. . . . Iain Dwyer, a founding member of the two-year-old organization, is hoping the centre will also serve as a “template” for universities looking to open men’s centres of their own. He said there are interested parties at York University, the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Guelph. Read full story.

MRU expands campus mental health program
In a 2009 study by the American College Health Association, one-third of university students said they’d felt so depressed in the last 12 months that they found it hard to function. The same study found that seven per cent seriously considered suicide, reported the Calgary Herlad Nov. 17. Gordon Flett, a York University psychology professor and a Canada research chair in Personality and Health, said that while there hasn’t been a definitive study yet done in Canada, he is confident the numbers would be the same, if not higher. Flett said that in recent years, research has found evidence as to the kinds of programs that work – cognitive behavioural therapy high among them. Schools have expanded counselling services and added peer groups, too. Read full story.

University Affairs wins three online publishing awards
University Affairs was a major contender in the Canadian Online Publishing Awards, announced in Toronto Wednesday night. . . . This time it was Melonie Fullick’s blog Speculative Diction that took the top honours, reported University Affairs Nov. 15. A doctoral candidate in education at York University, Fullick has a regular following of more than 3,000 readers. Her intelligent essays cover issues of the day affecting members of the university community, often commenting on how higher education is reported in the media. Read full story.

Sri Lanka: Postwar Tamil activism in Canada
“To better understand Canadian Tamil political activism and how it has evolved since Sri Lanka’s civil war ended in 2009, I spoke with Amarnath Amarasingam, a postdoctoral fellow at York University’s Centre for Refugee Studies, who has researched the issue of Tamil activism in Canada,” wrote Daniel Kitts in the Inside Agenda Blog Nov. 15. Watch full video.