Orange shirts available for purchase at York U Bookstore

Every Child Matters shirt - design by Peggy Pitawanakwat
Every Child Matters shirt (design by Peggy Pitawanakwat)

The York U Bookstore is now selling “Every Child Matters” orange shirts, which are available to order online or purchase in store.

Design by artist Peggy Pitawanakwat
Design by artist Peggy Pitawanakwat

University community members are invited to wear an orange shirt on Sept. 30 and join the journey toward reconciliation.

The design (pictured here) was created by artist Peggy Pitawanakwat, a former chief of the Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory on Manitoulin Island. She is treasurer for Thunder Woman Healing Lodge Society, which is working to break the cycle of Indigenous women’s over-representation in Canada’s prisons; co-ordinator of First Peoples at Seneca College; and a member of the Thunderbird Clan.

The image on the T-shirt is being used as part of the official ceremony for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

All profits from the sales of these shirts will support the Orange Shirt Society and the Seneca College Indigenous Student Bursary Fund.

Quick facts about the shirts:

  • Shirts are available in sizes from small to 5XL.
  • The T-shirts sell for $19.99 in store and online.
  • The bookstore is open to the public.
  • For online orders, shipping in Canada is $2.99 and there is also a free pickup option by appointment.

To order online, visit the York U Bookstore website.

Interested in the environment? Join this free conference

The Canadian Resource and Environmental Economics Association (CREEA|ACERE) will host its 31st annual conference, sponsored by York University’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS) and the Risk and Insurance Studies Centre, online on Oct. 1 and 2.

The two-day event aims to bring together scholars from across the country and beyond who work in the field of natural resource and environmental economics.

Ida Ferrara, associate professor in York’s Department of Economics, is this year’s conference organizer. Ferrara encourages York students to attend and says, “There is growing awareness of the urgency to collectively engage in positive action to save the planet, and the plea for environmental protection has never been louder.”

While virtual conference engagement can be challenging, this one includes a virtual dinner at the end of the first day, which kicks off the announcement of this year’s CREEA|ACERE Fellows: two scholars who have advanced the profession of environmental and resource economics.

The conference will be valuable to anyone working on, studying or interested in environmental issues. Learn more and register on the conference website.

Robarts Centre announces Barbara Godard and Odessa award recipients

Image announcing Awards
Awards card

Two York University students have earned academic awards for their work advancing Canadian studies. The prizes, awarded by York’s Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies, recognize one graduate and one undergraduate student every year.

The Barbara Godard Prize for the Best York University Dissertation in Canadian Studies recipient is Andrew Zealley, Faculty of Environmental & Urban Change (EUC), for “Risky Beeswax: Artistic Responses to the Biopolitics of HIV/AIDS.” The recipient of the Odessa Prize for the best undergraduate paper in a fourth-year course is Emily Belmonte for “Understanding Treaty One: Subsistence and Survival 1871-1888.”

The Barbara Godard Prize

Andrew Zealley (photo by Walter Segers)
Andrew Zealley (photo by Walter Segers)

Zealley’s work maps the artistic response to the complex and contradictory experience of living with HIV-AIDS within the Toronto gay community. He uses audio, video and writing to argue for experiential and situated knowledges as forms of HIV management and prevention.

“I want people to understand that pleasure is possible; pleasure is within grasp if we can learn to let go of – or refuse – institutionalized mandates around sex and intimate relationships,” he says. “I want people to find ways to talk about their personal health goals during sexual moments, to integrate sexual health talk into sexual play. I hope that people will better understand, through my work, the insidious role that gentrification plays in our pleasure lives. Homogeneity poisons imaginations and desires.”

The prize adjudication committee praised his research for exposing the underlying tensions between art and scholarly practice as processes for understanding this experience, by sourcing material often inaccessible or undervalued by institutional research. Overall, the committee noted the thesis provides a timely reminder of the numerous social discourses that continue to pathologize HIV-AIDS.

Zealley is currently working on multiple projects, both in an artistic and academic capacity. He is part of the Wetrospective exhibition at the AGO this month and has a new vinyl LP record, The Magic of the Think Machine Gods, releasing in October. He is also working on research projects with EUC graduate Peter Hobbs and Nick Mulé, a professor in York’s School of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS); and participating as a video maker in “Viral Interventions,” a project funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and overseen by EUC Professor Sarah Flicker and Associate Professor John Greyson of York’s School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD).

The Odessa Prize

Emily Belmonte
Emily Belmonte

Belmonte’s essay was completed under the supervision of Professor Sean Kheraj (Department of History, LA&PS) as part of the fourth-year Honours Thesis Seminar (HIST 4000). Her honours thesis focused on interpreting Treaty One (with the Chippewa and Cree Indians of Manitoba) and examining the events leading up to the signing, as well as the immediate aftermath in the 1870s.

“Canadians should not only be interested, but they should feel a sense of urgency to learn about the history of the land they are privileged to live on and how its first people were treated so shamefully at the hands of the government,” says Belmonte. “Canadians need to understand the treaty-making period, how we are all treaty people, and how there were very specific promises and rights granted to Indigenous people during the treaty process that were never upheld in a very deliberate process in order to secure land acquisition and pave the way for agrarian settlement.”

The prize committee recognized her work as a thoughtful and well-considered synthesis of scholarship on the history of Canada’s colonial expansion into the northwest. The committee noted the thesis is exceptionally well-organized and well-written, and demonstrates great care and sophistication in sorting out the layers of events and meanings surrounding this critical moment in Canadian history.

Belmonte is entering her final year at York and aims to graduate in June 2022 with a degree in both history and education. She plans to become a teacher with her certification to teach at the primary and junior levels, “but one day I may also consider teaching history at the senior and intermediate levels as well,” she says.

The work of both prize recipients was nominated by the Robarts Centre for the Canadian Studies Network – Réseau d’études canadiennes prizes for the Best PhD Dissertation and Best Undergraduate Essay Prize in Canadian Studies. Belmonte’s essay earned the Best Canadian Studies Undergraduate Essay/Thesis Prize and was noted for being well-written and carefully documented, and was highlighted as an example of undergraduate scholarship of very high quality, according to the Canadian Studies Network in their congratulatory email.

Zealley and Belmonte were both interviewed about their work by the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies. Read those reflections here.

About the prizes

The Barbara Godard Prize for the Best York University Dissertation in Canadian Studies, which has been awarded annually since 2012, is named in memory of Professor Barbara Godard, former Avie Bennett Historica Chair of Canadian Literature and former professor of English, French, social and political thought, and women’s studies at York University. The Odessa Prize for the Study of Canada, first awarded in 2011, was established through the generosity of York alumnus Irvin Studin (BBA Schulich, PhD Osgoode Hall Law School), who dedicated the award to his parents who hailed from the famous port city of Odessa, Ukraine. Learn more about these prizes at

Zeeshan Minhas

Zeeshan Minhas

York Lions field hockey coach Zeeshan Minhas is the 2021 winner of Field Hockey Canada’s Development Coach Award

York’s Writing Centre launches new livestream ‘Get WRIT’

writing notes schulich

Beginning Sept. 29, the Writing Centre at York University will feature a new weekly livestream hosted by writing Professor Rich Shivener, who will broadcast the digital series from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on his YouTube channel, YU WRIT Live.

Shivener will consider topics including the purpose of university writing and assignments, new software to help with composition, and tips and tools for efficient, productive composition. A chat feature will also be available, and Shivener plans to interact with his audience.

Rich Shivener
Rich Shivener

“I like the low-stakes approach to YouTube Live,” said Shivener about his plans. “Audiences from across the University can tune in and chat without needing video or audio.

“It’s a great space for commenting and asking questions without having to feel like you’re ‘on’ and it’s easy to tune into later with video on demand.”

Shivener will explore a variety of traditional and digital writing practices on his program. He plans to discuss software applications like Scrivener and Write or Die that can help today’s authors compose efficiently. Student needs during the semester will also form a big part of his content.

“Topics will be based on my personal experience as a professional writer as well as timely happenings,” said Shivener. “For example, in the middle of the fall, I plan to discuss more multimedia writing practices because students often work on those projects for midterms and finals. As we approach winter holidays, I plan to play the writing game Kind Words. Requests for topics are most welcome.”

The first two episodes of the new livestream are “What are We Writing (in class, elsewhere)?” on Sept. 29, and “Where We ‘Get WRIT’ in the Writing Department” on Oct 6.

The new series is hosted by York’s Writing Centre, and students will be able to find further episode information, links and more background on the program by visiting the Writing Centre website at

“We’re really looking forward to this new series,” said Professor Jon Sufrin, the Writing Centre’s director. “It’s an easy new way to get insights into how to become a better writer, and a chance to get any writing-related questions you have answered in real time.”

Fourth-year Professional Writing program student Kernessa Brereton said she’d heard about the series from her professors and planned to tune in. “Professor Shivener is a really accessible and interesting professor,” she said. “He’s got a lot of insight into the writing process, especially the digital end of things. I’m excited to hear his thoughts.”

All students need to participate is a web browser or mobile phone. Livestreams will be available with show notes and captions, and archived episodes will be hosted on the Writing Centre’s website unless otherwise noted.

OsgoodePD earns award for innovation in teaching and learning

handshake and books

Osgoode Professional Development (OsgoodePD) has been recognized for its innovative execution in converting a historically in-person, skills-based, learn-by-doing program into an online format.  

The annual Intensive Trial Advocacy Workshop (ITAW) earned the Award of Outstanding Achievement in the Technology category for the 2021 Association of Continuing Legal Education’s (ACLEA’s) Best Awards. ACLEA is the international association for continuing education devoted to improving the performance of continuing legal education (CLE) professionals around the world.

The award recognized innovation in teaching and learning applied to the OsgoodePD program during the pandemic, when the 41st annual ITAW was reimagined in a virtual format.

Osgoode Professional Development (OsgoodePD)’s Annual Intensive Trial Advocacy Workshop (ITAW) won the Award of Outstanding Achievement in the Technology category for the 2021 Association for Continuing Legal Education (ACLEA)’s Best Award
Osgoode Professional Development’s annual Intensive Trial Advocacy Workshop won an award for its innovative approach to teaching and learning

ITAW is a six-day learn-by-doing trial advocacy program that brings together a group of more than 100 instructors and guest speakers, all active members of the bench and bar and trained in teaching oral advocacy. When the in-person event was cancelled due to the pandemic, the OsgoodePD team embraced the opportunity to bring it to the many litigators who depend on the program in a virtual format.

Ensuring the design of the program kept ITAW’s core elements, the program transitioned to online in only a few months, requiring the team to leverage its resources in new and creative ways. OsgoodePD staff and faculty had to be trained in online learning and the use of technological platforms, and equipment had to be repurposed so that ITAW could be run remotely.

Offering the program with a blend of asynchronous elements gave participants the flexibility to learn at their own pace, in any space. The online format also increased accessibility to those outside of Toronto, and made this a viable program for sole practitioners and smaller firms.

ITAW participants gained invaluable experience in the practicalities of trial advocacy, and were able to practise their trial advocacy skills on digital platforms that have taken on increased importance during the pandemic. In this sense, the program prepared participants to be effective advocates in the new world of digital trial advocacy. Furthermore, participants received an electronic portfolio of their performances to allow them to further review and reflect on their skills development post-program.

“This was an excellent course that will certainly have an impact on my practice. I cannot recommend it enough,” said program participant Dianne Jozefacki, Hicks Morley Hamilton Stewart Storie LLP. “You receive invaluable feedback on performing direct and cross-examinations and opening and closing statements, which are key skills that all lawyers who want to be oral advocates must master. I know that I will be a better lawyer for taking this course.”

Learning from this, OsgoodePD has used this innovation to transition other interactive CLE programs online, optimizing the use of digital platforms like Zoom to deliver skills-based CLE in an effective and engaging way.

Due to the success of the online ITAW, the 2021 the program was considerably scaled up and sold out with an extensive wait-list.

“ITAW is a valuable course for new and senior calls alike,” said participant Samira Ahmed, justice for children and youth. “The faculty, lectures and on-your-feet learning will leave you with new confidence and strategies for successful trial advocacy.”

York University’s OsgoodePD offers a broad and flexible range of interdisciplinary graduate-level and continuing education legal programs to professionals with and without law degrees.

Try these 30-minute sessions to reduce stress

A person in meditation pose

A few simple practices that take 30 minutes can help to reduce stress and boost energy will be taught during the Fall 2021 Stress Busting Series at York University.

Offering “30 minutes of magical practices,” the series runs over 10 weeks beginning Sept. 27 and features qigong, mindfulness meditation and Capacitar wellness.

Faculty of Health Professor Harvey Skinner will teach how these practices can empower us to care for our health and well-being, with sessions open to everyone at York and running from 12 to 12:30 p.m. Each session will follow with a Q-and-A, which is optional for participants.

For Fall 2021, the program includes:

  • Qigong (Mondays and Thursdays) –  a typical 30-minute session involves breath work, energizing movements, purging exercises, flowing movements and meditation. These sessions run Sept. 27 to Dec. 2.
  • Mindfulness Meditation (Tuesdays) – a typical 30-minute session involves mindfulness of breath, awareness of body sensations, loving kindness and self-compassion practices, and RAIN meditation for strong emotions. These sessions run Sept. 28 to Nov. 30.
  • Capacitar Healing Practices (Wednesdays) – a typical 30-minute session involves meditation and mindfulness, finger holds and other body holds for managing emotions, t’ai chi/qigong movements, emotional freedom technique and acupressure points. These sessions run Sept. 29 to Dec. 1.

These programs are offered for free to the York University community. Details about the series and registration are available from the Stress Busting website or by contacting Skinner directly by email at

Skinner is a professor of psychology and global health and was founding dean (2006-16) of the Faculty of Health. His daily wellness routine includes: qigong energy and movement practices, mindfulness meditation and body work exercises.

Here’s how to get your story in the new YFile

An image of a woman with a laptop that shows the YFile website

Last week, YFile marked a major milestone with the launch of its new website, archives and email newsletter that combine a modern design, improved functionality and enhanced user experience.

The project to overhaul the publication was undertaken with a community-first approach, with the goal of prioritizing the needs and requests of the York University community and YFile readers.

As part of this project, the YFile team has introduced several new resources to help community members share their important York stories through YFile.

Online story submission form

The updated YFile website features a new online story submission form to make it easier than ever to share ideas, stories and information with the YFile team. The online story submission form is accessible from the YFile homepage, the About YFile page and directly, using this link.

Designed and adapted from the previous downloadable story form, the new online story submission form allows content creators and community members to upload and send all of the information the YFile team requires for story development. In addition to filling out basic information – such as relevant dates and story description – this new form also encourages community members to consider how the story relates to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), which will amplify York’s leadership in SDG-related teaching, partnerships and campus practices.

Further to that, York communications staff and content creators now have the option of requesting up to five different tags for their story, which helps individual units meet their own digital-based goals and benchmarks. (See YFile’s Tagging Conventions and Master Tag List for more.)

Users of the online story submission form will be able to upload one document and up to three images. This new process will help to ensure balanced coverage of stories in YFile, and will save time and make the submission process more transparent.

Please bookmark the online story submission form and start using it today.

YFile User Manual

The YFile team recognizes there are many aspects to consider when requesting coverage in the publication – whether for a story, an ad, an event or a special issue. To help guide the York community through some of the commonly asked questions, YFile has published a brand-new resource called the YFile User Manual. It is accessible from the About YFile page and directly, from this link.

In addition to following the York University Writing Style Guide, YFile has its own unique set of rules and conventions for writing and publication. Outlined in the YFile User Manual are details for items such as deadlines, image requirements, embargoes, publication schedule, event coverage and much more.

The YFile User Manual is now available; please bookmark it and start using it today.

York announces launch of Centre for Indigenous Knowledges and Languages

Artwork by Métis (Otipemisiwak) artist Christi Belcourt

York University has launched a new organized research unit (ORU) that is the first at the University to focus on Indigenous and decolonizing scholarship.

The Centre for Indigenous Knowledges and Languages (CIKL) is led by inaugural Director Deborah McGregor, an associate professor at York and the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Environmental Justice at Osgoode Hall Law School. The new ORU will host Indigenous and non-Indigenous researchers and students engaged in these areas of scholarship, and aims to facilitate knowledge production and dissemination that re-centres Indigenous knowledges, languages, practices and ways of being. Moreover, CIKL will support research involving both traditional and contemporary knowledges, as care-taken, shared and created by Indigenous scholars at the University and from Indigenous knowledge holders in the community.

Deborah McGregor
Deborah McGregor

Cross-appointed between Osgoode Hall Law School and the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change, McGregor is Anishinaabe from Whitefish River First Nation, Birch Island, Ont. She has an extensive research background focusing on Indigenous knowledge systems and their applications in water and environmental governance, environmental and climate justice, and sustainable self-determined futures.

McGregor notes that “the Centre for Indigenous Knowledges and Languages offers a generative space within and beyond York University to advance Indigenous scholarship, research theories, methodologies and practices that supports a keen understanding of the goals and aspirations of Indigenous Peoples. CIKL will foster collaborations and partnerships with Indigenous Peoples and others that create ethical space for dialogue on how research relationships can be envisioned, negotiated, practised in support of Indigenous futurities. Creating this ethical space in collaboration with Indigenous Peoples and our colleagues across the University also creates opportunities for critical dialogue, reflection and change to take place in addressing some of the world’s most pressing challenges.”

Joining McGregor as a research leader is York University Professor Sean Hillier, who will become CIKL’s associate director. Hillier has recently been appointed a York Research Chair in Indigenous Health Policy & One Health. He is a queer Mi’kmaw scholar from the Qalipu First Nation, and an assistant professor at the School of Health Policy & Management. His collaborative research program spans themes of aging, living with HIV and other infectious diseases, and antimicrobial resistance, all with a focus on policy affecting health-care access for Indigenous Peoples in Canada.

“Having dedicated Indigenous research resources and space, as offered by the new CIKL, which is run by and for Indigenous Peoples on campus, is a critical first step,” says Hillier. “This centre will assist York in becoming a research-intensive institution and serves the principals of the Indigenous Framework and University Academic Plan.”

Amir Asif, York’s vice-president of research and innovation, says, “The establishment of CIKL creates a vital space for Indigenous researchers and all those engaged in decolonizing scholarship at York and beyond. The centre will play an important role in invigorating and disseminating groundbreaking, Indigenous-centred research taking place at and beyond York University.”

Stay tuned for upcoming events and initiatives at CIKL.

Watch the Sept. 21 community town hall

yorku-letters FEATURED image for new YFile format

On Sept. 21, York University held a virtual town hall to discuss the University’s ongoing plans for the safe return of in-person activities this academic year.

All students, staff, course instructors and faculty were invited to attend and submit questions in advance or live during the event.

The town hall was presented by York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton, who was joined by:

  • Lisa Philipps, provost and vice-president academic;
  • Amir Asif, vice-president research and innovation;
  • Sheila Cote-Meek, vice-president equity, people and culture;  
  • Carol McAulay, vice-president finance and administration;  
  • Lucy Fromowitz, vice-provost, students; and
  • Parissa Safai, special advisor to the president for academic continuity planning and COVID-19 response and associate professor, School of Kinesiology and Health Science.

The full video of the town hall is now available and can be viewed here.