York invites community to participate in Safety and Health Week

two york students smiling and talking on campus BANNER

Safety and Health Week, which runs from May 6 to 10, 2024, spotlights the critical importance of health and safety in all facets of life — be it at work, home or within the community.

Throughout the week, York University will host webinars, activities and promotions related to workplace safety, health and connection. Faculty and staff are encouraged to participate individually or as a team to strengthen their sense of community and a shared commitment to health and safety.

“These events aim to increase awareness and share valuable resources for personal and communal health within the workplace,” said Mary Catherine Masciangelo, assistant vice-president of Human Resources and CHRO.

Safety and Health Week at York University is more than just a series of events—it’s a part of our ongoing commitment to ensuring a safer and healthier environment for our community,” said Laina Bay-Cheng, interim vice-president, Equity, People and Culture. “We look forward to seeing you participate and thank you in advance for your engagement. We truly are better – in all senses of the word – together.”

Events and Activities

Health, Safety and Employee Well Being (HSEWB) invites all employees to take part in a variety of virtual events and downloadable activities designed to foster a culture of safety and good health.

EventDescriptionDetails
Living Well With Stress

Led by TELUS Health
This seminar will teach participants how to effectively manage stress for optimal health, well-being, and workplace productivity.Date: Mon., May 6
Time: 1 – 2 p.m.
Format: virtual session
Who can participate? Staff, faculty and instructors
Register
Championing Trans Inclusive Workplaces

Led by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
Join us for an enlightening and educational session with Dani Gomez-Ortega, a renowned diversity and inclusion champion.Date: Tues., May 7
Time: 11 a.m. – noon
Format: virtual session
Who can participate? Staff, faculty and instructors
Register
Introduction to Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Employees

Led by TELUS Health
This seminar introduces the meaning and significance of psychological safety at work and explores actions employees can take to contribute towards a psychologically safe workplace for themselves and their teams.Date: Tues., May 7
Time: 1 – 2 p.m.
Format: virtual session
Who can participate? Staff, faculty and instructors
Register
Plain Language Helps Workplace Health and Safety

Led by Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
Join writing and design expert Jocelyn Pletz, as she demonstrates how plain language and design principles connect with effective health and safety communication.Date: Wed., May 8
Time: 11 a.m. – noon
Format: virtual session
Who can participate? Staff, faculty and instructors
Register
Posture Do’s and Don’ts – Chair Setup

Led by Health, Safety and Employee Well-being
A 30-minute interactive demonstration on how to understand and adjust your ergonomic chair. No equipment required.Date: Wed., May 8
Time: 1 – 1:30 p.m.
Format: In-person drop-in, York Lanes Room 280A
Who can participate? Staff, faculty and instructors
Register to receive a credit on YU Learn
Posture Do’s and Don’ts

Led by Health, Safety and Employee Well-being
A 30-minute seminar to learn the do’s and don’ts of neutral posture at your workstation.Date: Thu., May 9
Time: 1 – 1:30 p.m.
Format: virtual session
Who can participate? Staff, faculty and instructors
Register
Crucial Conversations for Managers

Led by Organizational Learning and People Excellence.
This course examines various communication models to help move individuals from disagreement to dialogue.Date: Fri., May 10
Time: 10 a.m. – noon
Format: virtual session
Who can participate? Managers
Register
B-Well BingoIt is important for our mental health and well-being to maintain social connections with colleagues. To help facilitate this, HSEWB has created a B-WELL Bingo that you can do as a team, or individually.Download Bingo card

For additional resources on ways to promote and sustain mental health and well-being, visit the Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP), HSEWB or Well-being at York.

To see more activities, or to learn more about the history of Safety and Health week, visit Safety and Health Week.

Eco Arts Festival to showcase students’ environmental art

artistic crafts earth hands heart BANNER

A banana fish is set to be one of the hits of the 2024 Eco Arts Festival, an annual explosion of artistic talent organized by the students in the Environmental Arts and Justice (EAJ) program in York University’s Faculty of Environmental & Urban Change (EUC), which marks its 30th anniversary this year.

The Eco Arts Festival is an environmental initiative where art is a catalyst for ecological change and a way to highlight the intersection of art and the environment in the EAJ program. It takes over the lobby and two exhibit spaces – Zig-Zag and Crossroads – in the Health, Nursing & Environmental Studies Building, displaying visual arts and offering performances and readings.  

EUC_The Great Banana Fish migration cover 1

The banana fish, an organically shaped yellow creature, is the star of visual artist and an EUC master’s degree student Michael Bradley’s illustrated book, The Great Banana Fish Migration, a tale that he’ll be reading aloud at the festival later this year.  

This mythical creature fits well with this year’s theme, Beast Friends Forever, a title conceived by festival co-ordinator and EUC doctoral student Giuliana Racco and inspired by Professor Andil Gosine’s research into animal-human interactions and species loss. Gosine is an artist and curator who is the EAJ program co-ordinator. 

“Arts are a place for the students to contend with their anxiety about what is happening in the world, and to think about how we might respond to the crisis we face,” Gosine says. 

Many of the student-artists displaying their work in the festival were enrolled in one or both of Gosine’s two EUC summer courses: Environmental Arts Workshop (for undergraduates) and Cultural Production: Image (for graduate students). These three-week intensive courses are akin to “an arts residency,” says Gosine, who brings artists to class and encourages the students to take their research and passion for environmental issues and translate them in a way that challenges them to explore their creative instincts.  

A similar fourth-year course in the undergraduate EAJ program, Arts in Action, brings together both undergraduate and graduate students to realize the project they have been dreaming up.  

“Fourth-year undergrads and first-year master’s students use the course to deeply explore their interests, with dedicated attention to each of their projects,” Gosine explains. “It’s a rare opportunity to move from research on an environmental concern to exhibition of an artwork that might stimulate conversation and action.”  

As for the undergraduate EAJ program, Gosine considers it unique; he accepted a teaching position at York to be part of it. 

“It’s rare to have such a confluence of learning styles,” he says. “We are allowed to have an interdisciplinary approach. Here, you can be both an artist and a social scientist.”

Chrocheted Chickens

Among the art that festival attendees will see are Tess Thompson-van Dam’s crocheted chicken sculptures harking back to Victorian times when the elites brought chickens to tea parties; drawings by Andrew Carenza that reinterpret horses pictured in historical European paintings through a contemporary, Queer lens; work on historical and contemporary ideas of Eden; and the travelling banana fish. Bradley’s reading of The Great Banana Fish Migration and an Eco Arts collaborative workshop offer participatory opportunities. 

Bradley, an Ottawa Valley native, had a thriving art practice in Taiwan but returned to Canada for master’s studies. He has been drawing banana fish daily since 2018 and creating stories about them. The current book talks about the fish’s journey to find its place in the world and how that might always be changing. 

“I’m not commenting on the politics of migration in a direct way, but when people migrate they have a confused sense of place. I hope people can relate,” he says. “There are a lot of ways that art and environmental science can intersect,” Bradley adds. “I’m not a politician or a policymaker, but artists, creators and curators are part of the cultural community, so if the environment requires a cultural shift, artists are the best people to usher in this change.” 

Bradley’s work, and the Eco Arts Festival, will have that on full display.  

Inaugural fair helps EUC students explore green career possibilities

Briefcase with potted plant on it

Over 300 interested York University and high-school students attended the inaugural Faculty of Environmental & Urban Change (EUC) Green Career Fair in January. 

In partnership with the not-for-profit organization Green Career Centre, the event welcomed students to the Health, Nursing & Environmental Studies Building to explore possibilities for careers that aren’t often well promoted, but for which there is a growing need among employers. A recent worldwide survey by the Manpower Group found that 70 per cent of employers are urgently recruiting or planning to recruit green talent and people with sustainability skills. 

The idea for the fair came from Lauren Castelino, a master of environmental studies student at EUC and founder of the Green Career Centre, who organized a fair last year, attended by EUC staff. The centre focuses on providing under-represented youth with green career opportunities, advancement and inclusion. 

Organizers from both the Green Career Centre and Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change. From L to R: Joel Famadico Jr., Emma Bramante,  Kenneth Ebhomeye Oko-Oboh, Lauren Castelino, Gayathri Baiju, Joanne Huy, Rosanna Chowdhury, Shaniah Hutchinson, Tomisona Oludairo, Bottom: Lester Pinlac
Organizers from both the Green Career Centre and Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change.
From left to right: Joel Famadico Jr., Emma Bramante, Kenneth Ebhomeye Oko-Oboh, Lauren Castelino, Gayathri Baiju, Joanne Huy, Rosanna Chowdhury, Shaniah Hutchinson, Tomisona Oludairo, Bottom: Lester Pinlac

“We mutually thought it would be a great idea to expand the reach of the initiative by working together,” said Castelino, who is also pursuing a diploma in Business and the Environment from EUC and the Schulich School of Business. “EUC’s facilities were much larger than the first venue we used … and we were also appreciative of the staff support we could receive through the collaboration.” 

“We intentionally held our full-day event on the same day as the university-wide Career Fair hosted by the York Career Centre as a way of taking advantage of the synergy,” said Joanne Huy, an alumna who graduated in 2015 and is now the alumni engagement and events officer for EUC. “Staff at each event suggested that attendees visit the other fair, too. It was a win-win situation.” 

The partners invited EUC students and alumni to participate and invited everyone from York and the local community to attend. The day featured a morning of workshops followed by the career fair. The workshops included a presentation about net-zero programs given by staff from York’s Sustainability Office, a session focused on green job resources and a panel featuring EUC alumni. There was also a speed networking event matching alumni with groups of students for more intimate conversations. 

Participants speaking to vendor at the fair
Participants speaking to vendor at the fair

“I’m dedicated to empowering the next generation of changemakers, so it was great to invite our alumni panellists back to campus to share their career paths and discuss how EUC prepared them for the future,” said Huy. “We have 13,000 alumni worldwide and they are eager to contribute. It’s meaningful to them and to our current students.” 

The Green Career Fair itself featured booths set up by more than 20 organizations involved in environmental work, including the Toronto & Region Conservation Authority, the Community Climate Council and Outward Bound. Participating organizations focused on issues such as food insecurity, environmental policy, environmental arts and environmental education. Exhibitors showcased jobs, internships and volunteer opportunities. 

Muzamil Gadain, an alumnus who graduated from EUC in 2023, works as a project co-ordinator for the Black Environmental Initiative, an organization that works to foster change that considers cultural roots, including issues such as food security and food sovereignty. He, along with a co-worker and a volunteer, used their booth to recruit volunteers. 

“We weren’t actively hiring, but there were volunteer roles we needed to fill,” said Gadain. “About 20 volunteers signed up, so it worked very well. We also had an opportunity to network with other like-minded organizations and made some good connections. 

Muzamil Gadain and his colleagues from the Black Environmental Initiative boothing at the fair
Muzamil Gadain (left) and his colleagues from the Black Environmental Initiative boothing at the fair

“Our supervisor was very pleased to have access to university youth and we are happy to be able to help them develop their skills. Some of them have already made contributions by developing social media content and contributing to articles. It was a worthwhile event and we would definitely do it again.” 

Emma Bramante, an EUC work-study student who is majoring in sustainable environmental management, helped organize the event by doing outreach to organizations and potential employers. She also contributed to the development of marketing materials and helped to raise awareness to students, alumni and organizations. 

The high turnout delighted her and she is eager to see the Green Career Fair blossom and grow. 

“I anticipate an expansion in the scope of exhibitors, with a broader range of organizations participating, including both established environmental companies and emerging grassroots organizations and non-profits,” Bramante said. “Furthermore, I anticipate the integration of virtual components into the fair to increase accessibility and reach a wider audience beyond the local community.” 

Castelino, too, was thrilled by the interest the Green Career Fair generated. 

“I was so ecstatic to see this event come to life, and to reach more under-represented youth,” she said. “Some highlights included having three workshop presenters, four speakers, eight sponsors, 21 vendors and 300-plus attendees. I was so grateful to have the opportunity to share my knowledge through a Green Jobs Resources Workshop.” 

In June 2023, led by Castelino, Huy and Rosanna Chowdhury, the Green Career Fair was one of four applications awarded funding through the Sustainability Innovation Fund. The Faculty has now built the event into its annual budget. 

“Going forward, the fair will also give us a chance to build relationships with organizations as we develop our EUC co-op program,” Huy said. “The synergies are beautiful to see.” 

York researchers launch exhibit documenting Ontario’s wine history

grapes on a vine

York University history Professor Marcel Martel and research assistant Alex Gagné have collaborated with the Archives of Ontario to launch a new online exhibit titled Wine Making in Ontario. Through images, maps and graphs, the exhibit surveys wine production in Ontario from 1866 to 1940.

Marcel Martel
Marcel Martel

Martel and Gagné proposed the exhibit based on their surprising research findings of an active pre-Second World War wine industry that spanned the province, from Windsor to Sudbury.

“When I conduct research on an issue, there are always some unexpected discoveries,” explains Martel. “I was surprised to discover the number of wineries and wine sellers in urban areas, especially in Toronto, and the multicultural ethnic origins of wine makers and sellers, since most of them came from Britain, France, Italy and the United States.”

The exhibit shows how European settlers struggled to use Indigenous-cultivated grape varietals to make European-style wines. It examines the background of various figures in the industry, including farmers seeking wealth and international acclaim, but also Jewish and Italian migrants and women who made wine for domestic consumption. It also considers the impact of prohibition and other headwinds that ultimately delayed the industry’s flourishing until the 1990s.

Barrels at Canadian Wineries Ltd., A. McKim and Co., Niagara Falls. 1941. Photo by Gordon Powley. Archives of Ontario, I0002637
Barrels at Canadian Wineries Ltd., A. McKim and Co. in Niagara Falls, 1941. Photo by Gordon Powley. Archives of Ontario, I0002637.

“As we continued our research, we expected to find a landscape of grape growers and vintners in competition – each vying for their share of the Canadian market,” says Gagné. “Instead, we found a story of co-operation and unity among the multicultural wine makers who dotted the 19th-century Canadian landscape.”

Among their many surprising discoveries, the researchers learned that early Canadian winemakers would share grape cultivation, harvesting and hybridization secrets through publications like Canadian Agriculturist. This collaborative spirit, Gagné explains, aimed to overcome the prevailing belief that Canada’s climate wasn’t suitable for winemaking.

“They sought to convince both the government and the public to embrace Canadian wines,” he says. “While ultimately stymied by the rise of temperance movements and prohibition, their efforts revealed an industry defined by shared knowledge – and, often, even shared vine cuttings – to prove to the world that Canada was home to unique and delicious wine.”

In support of the online exhibit, the Archives of Ontario has also prepared a display of archival records and historical artifacts related to Ontario’s wine history that can viewed until fall when visiting the Archives in person at 134 Ian MacDonald Boulevard, next to the Kaneff Tower on York’s Keele Campus. The Archives is open to the public from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. every weekday.

To view the online exhibit, visit Wine Making in Ontario (or La fabrication du vin en Ontario for the French version).

York to host, lead graduate supervision conference

Glendon graduate students on laptops

One of the foundational relationships of the graduate student experience is the one between student and supervisor. As part of its 60th anniversary celebrations, York University’s Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) is hosting an online graduate supervision conference geared specifically toward supervisors.

Held in partnership with Memorial University of Newfoundland, the conference – called Collaborative, Constructive, Considerate: Fostering Dialogue on Best Practices in Graduate Supervision in Canada – will be held virtually on Friday, May 31 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The conference will bring together graduate supervisors from universities across Canada, with the aim to lead and foster dialogue about best practices in supervisory pedagogy.

Cheryl van Daalen-Smith
Cheryl van Daalen-Smith

“We need to continue talking about principles and best practices,” says Cheryl van Daalen-Smith, conference Chair and associate dean, academic of FGS

The conference is intended to fill a need for schools of graduate studies, which understand that more conversations have to happen about supervision.

“There’s an assumption that one learns to be a supervisor by being supervised themselves,” she says, “when there’s so much more to it.”

A cornerstone of the academic environment, graduate education and the graduate supervisory experience play a pivotal role in shaping students’ academic and professional journeys. This relationship has a profound effect on the quality of research produced, development of academic skills and overall academic experience.

The conference will include a keynote address delivered by Bruce Shore, author of The Graduate Advisor Handbook: A Student-Centred Approach, titled “Connections to Quagmires: Setting Up for Successful Supervision.” A second keynote speech, by Supervising Conflict author Heather McGhee Peggs, will offer practical advice to help faculty manage the most common grad school concerns.

Experts in the pragmatics of supervision, mediating conflict and the requisite principles guiding Ontario universities will participate in a panel discussion to follow, examining the Principles for Graduate Supervision at Ontario Universities, which were developed last year by the Ontario Council on Graduate Studies.

A closing discussion moderated by van Daalen-Smith will end the day, with a focus on the Canadian Association for Graduate Studies Working Group Initiative and its mission to establish a set of national graduate supervision principles.

“We need to celebrate great supervision and foster discussions that identify exactly what it is that makes this pivotal educative role in graduate studies so influential,” says van Daalen-Smith.

The conference is free to attend, and registration is now open via the online form. For more information, visit the event web page.

York dialogue initiative embraced by academic institutions

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York University Professor Randal Schnoor, recognized for his efforts in fostering genuine dialogue on the Israel-Palestine issue through the Bridging the Gap (BtG) student dialogue group, finds his community-building work gaining traction and support from other academic institutions amidst tensions on campuses in Canada and abroad.

Randal Schnoor
Randal Schnoor

The BtG initiative, led by Schnoor and an executive team of eight students, has been instrumental in creating safe spaces for healthy discussions about Israel-Palestine at York University.

“We are a group of York University students and alumni, both Palestinian Arab and Israeli Jewish, who want to change the way that the conversation about Israel-Palestine is happening at York University,” says Schnoor, a sociologist at York’s Israel & Golda Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Studies who teaches the Antisemitism and Islamophobia in Canada course.

“We believe that, as fellow students who have a connection to this land, we all deserve human dignity and an honest conversation.”

The first dialogue session took place on the Keele Campus on Feb. 12. Led by student moderators, the successful outcome garnered attention and praise both locally and beyond.

The Canadian Jewish News covered the inaugural event in a story published Feb. 21, reporting that despite some heated exchanges the panellists, representing diverse perspectives, demonstrated a commitment to civil discourse.

“There is a great appetite for this kind of initiative, as other campuses are also facing similar challenges around the Israel-Palestine issue,” says Schnoor.

He has since been contacted by professors and senior administrators at Western University, Toronto Metropolitan University, the University of British Columbia and the University of Sydney in Australia to share his insights on the proactive advocacy work being done at York.

Earlier this month, BtG travelled to the University of Toronto Scarborough and Queen’s University to present additional panel discussions that explored the opportunities and challenges Schnoor and York students have encountered since the launch.

There are now plans to expand outreach by visiting synagogues and mosques this summer, followed by scheduled campus visits in the fall.

This outreach and ongoing exchange of ideas highlights the broader impact of initiatives like BtG in promoting constructive dialogue beyond York’s borders.

“York should be proud of the leadership role it is taking in Canada – and beyond – in promoting respectful dialogue on Israel-Palestine,” Schnoor says. “The goal of dialogue is not to win debates, but rather to use constructive communication to gain a better understanding of experiences and work towards a more positive future.”

Join the York community for a virtual town hall on April 11

Laptop with York U webpage

La version française suit la version anglaise.

Dear York community,

I invite you to join me for a virtual town hall on Thursday, April 11. This town hall is an opportunity for members of our community to ask questions, and to share feedback and ideas on how we can work together to drive positive change.

Participants are required to register for the town hall in advance using their York U email. Questions and comments can be submitted prior to and during the event by emailing conversations@yorku.ca. Learn more about the upcoming event on the Community Conversations website.

Date: Thursday, April 11

Time: 2:30 to 4 p.m.

Link to register: https://yorku.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_TYUJssstTEeiSgn6dScUAw#/registration

I hope you will join me along with other members of the York University leadership team.

Sincerely,

Rhonda Lenton
President and Vice-Chancellor


Le 11 avril, joignez-vous à la communauté de York pour une conversation communautaire virtuelle 

Chers membres de la communauté de York, 

Je vous invite à assister à la conversation communautaire virtuelle du jeudi 11 avril. Cette conversation communautaire est l’occasion pour les membres de notre communauté de poser des questions et d’exprimer leurs idées sur des façons de travailler ensemble pour susciter des changements positifs. 

Pour participer, vous devez vous inscrire à l’avance à la conversation communautaire avec votre adresse courriel de l’Université York. Vous pouvez soumettre vos questions et vos commentaires avant et pendant l’événement en envoyant un courriel à conversations@yorku.ca. Pour en savoir plus sur l’événement, visitez le site Web des Conversations communautaires. 

Date : Jeudi 11 avril 

Heure : De 14 h 30 à 16 h     

Lien pour s’inscrire :  https://yorku.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_TYUJssstTEeiSgn6dScUAw#/registration

Ajoutez la conversation communautaire à votre calendrier Outlook à l’aide du fichier .ics en pièce jointe. 

J’espère que vous vous joindrez à moi et aux autres membres de l’équipe de direction de l’Université York. 
 
Sincères salutations,     

Rhonda Lenton  
Présidente et vice-chancelière    

Updated: Create sustainable change this Earth Month

YorkU_EarthMonth BANNER

Update: New information after publication of this article indicates the tree planting events have been rescheduled. The new dates are listed below.

Throughout the month of April, York University looks to commemorate Earth Month by inviting the community to engage in activities and events that advance and celebrate the University’s commitment to a sustainable future.

Every action matters, which is why the York community is invited to create positive change this month in celebration of Earth Day, Earth Week and Earth Month. By engaging in sustainable living – the practice of understanding how individual lifestyle choices affect the world collectively – and finding ways to live better together, each one us can create sustainable change in our communities, on our campuses and around the world

“While institutions, governments and private companies need to make investments in transitioning to a low carbon economy, we also need to demonstrate our personal commitment,” says Mike Layton, York’s chief sustainability officer. “It can be as simple as reducing what we consume by buying local and less, diverting waste from landfill by composting and recycling, or taking public transit to work instead of driving.”

This Earth Month, community members are invited to attend York’s annual campus tree planting and clean-up events at the Keele and Glendon campuses in collaboration with the student group Regenesis and Facilities Services. Registration is encouraged and the details are as follows:

Keele Campus

Campus Clean Up
Monday, April 22
12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

Tree Planting
Tuesday, April 30
12:30 to 2 p.m.

Glendon Campus

Tree Planting and Campus Clean Up
Thursday, May 2
12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

Other events happening throughout the month include a WWF Living Planet Leader Certification Workshop, where students can learn how to lead impactful initiatives, and another event titled The Future is Now – A Dialogue on Climate Hope, where participants will have the opportunity to share their personal insights on topics related to climate anxiety, sustainability, the role of community in their lives and strategies for feeling empowered in the face of the climate crisis.

The C4: Cross-Campus Capstone Classroom will also once again host Capstone Day, an event where students showcase projects they have been working on over the past year that relate to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).

The events – and York’s overall celebration of Earth Month – reflect how, since the launch of its University Academic Plan in 2020, the University has made significant progress in advancing its sustainability initiatives and enhancing its impact on the UN SDGs. The University is currently among the top 40 institutions for global leadership on advancing the UN SDGs in the 2023 Times Higher Education Impact Rankings and has been named as one of Canada’s Greenest Employers for 11 consecutive years.

Recently, the University announced its plan to reach net-zero emissions by 2040, a decade earlier than originally planned. This new pledge is part of York’s renewed sustainability policy, which also includes a commitment to develop and implement a process to track, measure, evaluate and report progress toward net-zero emissions. 

Sustainability has been well integrated into every part of the University – from its wide array of sustainability-focused courses and partnerships, like the Global Water Academy, to campus sustainability features easily accessible throughout its campuses. Last year, the University also launched the Microlecture Series in Sustainable Living, an open-access program that gives participants the opportunity to learn from six of York’s world-renowned academic experts on a diverse range of topics related to sustainability.

To build on its strong repertoire of sustainability work, York recently launched a new, $1-million Sustainability Innovation Fund to invest in projects led by York students, faculty and staff that support the University’s goals.

Join York in creating sustainable change this Earth Month as well as during Earth Week (April 21 to 28) and on Earth Day on April 22. To learn more and get involved, visit York’s Earth Month website.

Don’t look up: how to safely view upcoming solar eclipse

Solar eclipse

Looking directly at the sun is never safe, says Elaina Hyde, an assistant professor in York University’s Faculty of Science and director of York’s Allan I. Carswell Observatory. But that is especially true during a solar eclipse, like the one expected in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico on April 8.

A total solar eclipse is a rare celestial event that occurs as the moon aligns perfectly between Earth and the sun, completely blocking the sun’s face and casting its shadow onto Earth, resulting in brief moments of temporary darkness. In Ontario, the eclipse’s path of totality – the locations where the moon’s shadow covers the sun in its entirety – includes Niagara Falls, Hamilton and St. Catharines.

Although Toronto will only experience a partial eclipse, with the moon covering 99.6 per cent of the sun, the sun’s brightness will still be strong enough to cause eye damage – and potential blindness – to anyone who looks directly at it. This can occur even if direct exposure only lasts a few seconds.

“People, especially young children, may be tempted to look up during the eclipse, but it’s not safe to do so without proper protection,” says Hyde. “Sunglasses are definitely not protective and shouldn’t be used when viewing the eclipse, but there are safe ways to do it.”

Those safe ways of viewing the eclipse – either total or partial – include using ​solar viewing glasses that have been certified by the International Organization for Standardization (labelled ​​ISO 12312-2 certified), a pinhole camera (a type of projector), or solar filters specifically designed to be used with telescopes or binoculars. For more safety tips, see the Observatory’s Eclipse Safety flyer.

In the days leading up to the big event, York’s Observatory will be hosting a pre-eclipse solar viewing on the first clear day between April 2 and 6. Join York astronomers as they take solar-appropriate telescopes outside to view the sun, demonstrate pinhole cameras and pass out free solar viewing glasses. Experts will answer frequently-asked questions about the eclipse and discuss how to enjoy the partial eclipse from Toronto. Good solar views require clear weather, which makes this event especially challenging to plan. Those interested in participating should check the Observatory’s Solar Eclipse 2024 web page daily at 10 a.m. between April 2 and 6 to find out if the event is on or off that day. For more information about the event, and to register for free tickets and daily updates, visit the York University Events Calendar listing.

On April 8, eclipse timing will vary depending on location. At York University, the partial eclipse will begin at 2:04 p.m. and end at 4:31 p.m., reaching its maximum expression at 3:19 p.m., which will be the best time to view it. Wherever you are during those times, Hyde stresses the importance that you do not – under any circumstances – look directly at the sun without the proper eye protection listed above.

Since York’s campuses are not located on the path of totality, the University won’t be hosting any public viewing events that day; however, York staff, faculty and students at the Keele Campus are invited to safely observe the partial eclipse atop the Arboretum Lane Parking Garage, near the Allan I. Carswell Observatory atrium.

Solar viewing glasses will be available, while supplies last, at multiple distribution sites on campus – during the First Clear Day pre-eclipse event, in the Department of Physics & Astronomy office on the first floor of the Petrie Science & Engineering Building; and on April 8, at the observing station on the fifth floor of the Arboretum Lane Parking Garage and at a smaller viewing area near York University Station in Harry W. Arthurs Common.

To learn more about the upcoming solar eclipse, visit the Allan I. Carswell Observatory’s Solar Eclipse 2024 web page for more information and resources, including blog updates from professors Robin Metcalfe and Bruce Waters, sharing their solar eclipse experiences.

Anthropology Annual Lecture to focus on impacts of colonialism

World War II Museum luggage

Every year, York University’s Department of Anthropology provides faculty, staff and students with a unique opportunity to meet eminent leaders in the field through its Anthropology Annual Lecture. This year’s event, taking place on April 4, will feature Ghassan Hage, a professor of anthropology and social theory at the University of Melbourne in Australia, presenting a talk titled “The Management of Colonial Luggage.”

Ghassan Hage
Ghassan Hage

The Oxford English Dictionary defines luggage as: suitcases or other bags in which to pack personal belongings for travelling; and past experiences or long-held ideas and opinions perceived as burdensome encumbrances. Each of these definitions belongs to a different dimension of life. An ethnographic investigation of the first – looking at customs and habits of people and their cultures – takes us into what we physically carry and how we carry it as we move from one place to another. The second takes us into the psychological around what we carry with us existentially as we move through life.

In this lecture, which will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. in downtown Toronto (exact location to be provided after registration), Hage will discuss how these two dimensions of life intersect and speak to each other when researching post-colonial culture and the impact of the exploitation of colonized people and their lands.

A prominent anthropologist known for his groundbreaking research on the comparative anthropology of racism, nationalism and multiculturalism, particularly in Australia and the Middle East, Hage has published numerous books and scholarly articles exploring the intersections of power, race and everyday life, shedding light on the experiences of marginalized communities in multicultural societies. His work challenges conventional understandings of identity and belonging, offering nuanced perspectives on issues of race, ethnicity and nationalism.

All members of the York University community are welcome to attend this event. For more information and to register, visit the Eventbrite page.