Lions crowned Queen’s Cup champions with victory over Gaels

Lions hockey champions
Lions hockey champions

The York University Lions men’s hockey team won its first Queen’s Cup championship in 13 years on Saturday night with a thrilling 4-3 victory over the Queen’s University Gaels at Canlan Ice Sports.

The contest started out slow with an uneventful first period, but the action picked up considerably once the second period began and the game quickly became a classic.

A back-and-forth affair culminated at 15:26 of the third period when Steven Janes netted the game winner for the Lions after firing home a juicy rebound given up by Queen’s goaltender Kevin Bailie. Janes was named the Porter Airlines player of the game after also recording an assist.

After a scoreless first period, the floodgates opened in the second. It was Queen’s that got on the board first just under seven minutes into the frame when Slater Doggett put the puck past York goaltender Mack Shields for a 1-0 lead.

Less than two minutes later the Gaels were at it again, this time with Eric Margo scoring to put the Gaels up by two. The goal came just moments after Bryce Milson had a glorious chance at the equalizer but was denied.

The Lions would not be held off the scoreboard for long, however, and within five minutes the game was tied. Reid Jackman cut the deficit to one at 10:36, and just over two minutes later Derek Sheppard found the back of the net to make it 2-2, where the score remained heading into the final frame.

It didn’t take long for the Lions to take their first lead of the game. Just 23 seconds into the third, Daniel Nikandrov collected another big rebound by Bailie and redirected the puck into a gaping net for a 3-2 lead.

Once again the advantage was short-lived as Doggett scored his second of the game, evading a defender and firing a hard shot past Shields to make it 3-3 at 3:45.

Both teams had their chances in the third until Janes provided the heroics minutes before the final whistle. Shields was forced to make one tremendous save that kept his team ahead until time wound down. He finished the game with 16 saves on the 19 shots he faced.

Bailie, meanwhile, was significantly busier at the other end of the ice, facing 34 shots and making 30 saves. For Queen’s, the silver-medal result was their best finish in 36 years, since last winning the championship in 1981.

Both teams had already qualified for the U SPORTS championships prior to Saturday’s game and will head to Fredericton next week, where the national tournament will begin on Thursday afternoon at the University of New Brunswick.

Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional studies launches new internship program

LA&PS new internship program
LA&PS new internship program

The Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS) launched a new internship program in January 2017 with its first partner, insurance brokerage firm The Shepherd Group. The internship program will provide students from all LA&PS programs with an opportunity to apply their knowledge, enhance their skills and gain valuable and paid work experience.

Ananya Mukherjee-Reed
Ananya Mukherjee-Reed

“We are very proud of our students. Their abilities and outlook are unique and unbeatable,” said Ananya Mukherjee-Reed, LA&PS dean. “With this internship program, we want to help them grow into even greater leaders by providing them with practical experience with the highest-ranking employers like The Shepherd Group. We are honoured to be The Shepherd Group’s partner in this mission.”

In today’s competitive job market, paid internships provide students with the necessary work experience that recruiting employers seek, as well as demonstrate to potential employers that interns’ skills and professional input are unique and highly valued.

Narda Razack
Narda Razack

“LA&PS has a rich array of programs with a strong diverse student body,” said Narda Razack, associate dean, Global & Community Engagement. “Graduating students and interns are the driving force of today’s businesses and economy and they deserve to take their place in the workforce.”

Interns build strong mutually beneficial relationships with local businesses and organizations in the community. These businesses and organizations then support the Faculty by developing internship positions open to LA&PS students exclusively.

“An internship is not just a job,” said Karlene Davis, experiential education program coordinator in the Office of the Associate Dean, Global & Community Engagement. “It is a meaningful employment opportunity that allows our students to see themselves in a work environment, to network and to make long-lasting connections with professionals in the field.”

Internships are ideally suited for third-year LA&PS students. Once students have been approved as candidates by the Faculty, they are invited to attend workshops on perfecting an internship resume, cover letter and interview skills offered in partnership with the YU Experience Hub. This workshop helps the candidates prepare for the next phase: an interview with the employer. Finally, the employer extends an internship job offer to the selected candidate.

The new LA&PS internship program supplements the YU Experience Hub’s LA&PS internships and other organic internships independent from the Faculty.

“Our office is fully engaged in the process as we provide direct support to both the student and the company from the application stage, throughout the duration of internship work term to evaluation,” said Davis.

The Shepherd Group focuses on helping small businesses and individual entrepreneurs succeed in the labour market. The company emphasizes teamwork and community outreach events. The company’s slogan is “Every day should feel like a Friday,” and employees receive coaching and support to develop their skills, making the work environment conducive to helping staff reach their potential.

Neil Shepherd
Neil Shepherd

Neil Shepherd, CEO and founder of the firm, sees the internship program with LA&PS as an opportunity for growth and expansion for all parties involved. He believes that through this internship, employers like him can source and work with the best and brightest students from York University. Shepherd says that postsecondary students offer unique perspectives and the fresh outlook that businesses need.

“York is such a great brand,” says Shepherd. “When I see what York has done and the future leaders that it is creating, I want to be part of that.”

Alex Kvaskov
Alex Kvaskov

Alex Kvaskov is a third-year Professional Writing student and the first intern in the LA&PS internship program. In January, he was hired as The Shepherd Group’s Social Media Intern. He is responsible for increasing the firm’s brand visibility online, researching, writing social media blogs and other online content to help boost sales. The internship opportunity is helping Kvaskov expand his social media and writing skills. By helping drive the business forward, Kvaskov said he has become more confident as a competitor on his media career path. He said the LA&PS internship is providing him the liberty to explore his career opportunities and helps undergraduate students build flexibility into their academics through paid work that complements their studies and career paths.

“My peers shouldn’t be worried about leaving old jobs, finding new ones, or sticking very strictly to their four-year undergrad plans,” said Kvaskov. “Make a plan, yes, but build some flexibility into that plan.”

For more information and to apply, employers and students should visit the LA&PS Internship Program website.

Schulich team advances to $1M finals in Hult Prize

Schulich team at Hult Prize
Schulich team at Hult Prize

A team of four undergraduate business students from York University’s Schulich School of Business has won the Hult Prize Regional Finals in Shanghai, advancing them to the finals for a chance at $1 million to execute their vision.

Team Empower

The Hult Prize, known as “the Nobel Prize for B-schools” according to Bloomberg Businessweek, brings together the brightest minds from around the globe to present solutions to world problems.

Team Empower – Akash Sidhu (BBA ’17), Amal Naufer (BBA ’18), Vasiliki Belegrinis (BBA ’18) and Joseph Truong (BBA ’17) – started work on their project in October 2016, and left to compete in China in late February 2017.

This year, the Hult Prize challenged students to focus on reawakening human potential and restoring the rights and dignity of refugees around the world. Team Empower’s winning pitch focused on how connectivity can become productivity for refugees: by providing stable and affordable Internet access, refugees around the world can be lifted out of poverty by realizing their potential as a global citizen.

“After working with refugees and staff at the York University Centre for Refugee Studies, we were shocked to know that up to 40 per cent of refugees’ disposable income is spent on staying connected, demonstrating a real need for affordable and reliable connectivity,” said Belegrinis. “We like to think that slow WiFi or running low on cellphone battery are major inconveniences in our lives. But for refugees, it can literally be the end of a lifeline.”

“The internet is a portal of countless opportunities and we believe that everyone has the right to connectivity. We are ready to provide them with the link to the outside world and give them the opportunities they deserve,” said Truong.

With thousands of university students competing in the regionals in Shanghai, London, Dubai, Boston and San Francisco, the Hult Prize is the world’s largest student social enterprise competition in the world.

After three presentations and judges feedback calls, Team Empower ultimately won the entire regional finals and have advanced to the global finals in the fall.

As one of the six globally selected teams, they will spend the summer in the United States working in the Hult Prize Accelerator and will begin piloting their project in Africa.

“It’s been such an amazing experience going through the Hult Prize journey. Ever since we won our campus round in November, we’ve evolved our idea into a real business. Now we can’t wait for the summer and the opportunity that awaits us to really change the lives of refugees around the world,” said Naufer.

Team Empower feels that the Hult Prize is a large community hub for like-minded individuals wanting to collaborate and do social good for the world.

“We truly believe in the power of collaboration and how young entrepreneurs like ourselves can make a real difference in the world,” said Sidhu.

To follow Team Empower, visit their Facebook page here

Winners of the 2016 President’s Staff Recognition awards named

Staff Recognition Awards
Staff Recognition Awards

As part of York University’s commitment to fostering employee engagement and recognizing excellence, each year the University celebrates the achievements of its dedicated staff. This year, as in previous years, a number of nominations were put forward for these awards. After careful deliberation by selection committees, York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri is pleased to acknowledge the recipients and nominees of the 2016 President’s Staff Recognition Awards.

“I always look forward to and enjoy the opportunity to recognize the recipients of the President’s Staff Recognition Awards,” says Shoukri. “These awards enable us to pay tribute to the outstanding efforts of our hard-working staff, whose contributions are a critical part of what makes York one of Canada’s leading universities today.”

The winners will be honoured and their achievements celebrated at an awards dinner on May 4.

The awards, recipients and nominees are as follows:

The Ronald Kent Medal

Carol Weldon
Carol Weldon

Carol Weldon, administrative assistant, Centre for Atmospheric Chemistry, Chemistry Department

The medal recognizes the contributions of employees who promote and strengthen collegiality, values and goals of York University.

Also nominated for this award:

  1. Ann-Marie Carless, administrative assistant, Department of Mathematics & Statistics, Faculty of Science
  2. Cheryl Dickie, technical learning specialist, Talent Acquisition & Development, Human Resources
  3. Mary Pecchia, administrative assistant, Department of Theatre, School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design
  4. Michael Rose, Management Information Coordinator, Systems, Information Technology & Publications, Registrar’s Office

The Deborah Hobson York Citizenship Award

Sheelagh Atkinson
Sheelagh Atkinson

Sheelagh Atkinson, associate director, University Events & Ceremonies, Advancement Services

This award recognizes employees who have demonstrated a high level of service to students and who promote York’s spirit in terms of creativity, innovation and redefining the possible in service to the university community.

Also nominated for this award:

  1. Amy Gaukel, assistant dean, students, Lassonde School of Engineering

The President’s Leadership Award

Sarah Cantrell
Sarah Cantrell

Sarah Cantrell, assistant vice-president, Office of Institutional Planning & Analysis

The President’s Leadership Award recognizes contributions that go beyond the published requirements of a position, performance levels that foster a high level of professionalism and usually extend beyond an individual department into the University community at large.

Also nominated for this award:

  1. David Bell, executive director, Development & Alumni Relations, Schulich School of Business
  2. Helen McLellan, executive officer, Office of the Dean, Faculty of Science
  3. Brad Sheeller, manager, Health Safety and Compliance, Office of the Dean, Faculty of Science
  4. Robert Castle, senior executive officer, Vice-President Finance & Administration
  5. Stephen Pottle, director, Risk Management Services, Finance Department
  6. Karen Furlonge, manager, Enterprise Business Application Services, Enterprise Business Application Services, University Information Technology (UIT)
  7. Debbie Montanera-Bojda, senior human resources officer, Office of the Vice-President Academic & Provost
  8. Michael Johnny, manager, Knowledge Mobilization, Office of Research Services (ORS)

The President’s Voice of York Award

Donna Hewison
Donna Hewison

Donna Hewison, student affairs assistant, Office of the Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies

The Voice of York Award is given to an individual who is a first-line-of-contact person at York University. The most important voice of York is the one who makes the first contact with a visitor or a community member. Compassion and professionalism, particularly in handling difficult or sensitive situations, is essential to our work at York University.

Also nominated for this award:

  1. Denise De Sanctis, administrative coordinator, Maintenance, Campus Services & Business Operations
  2. Joanne Sequeira, administrative assistant, Office of the Dean, Faculty of Science
  3. Libi Lancia, administrative assistant, Science and Technology Studies and Division of Natural Science, Faculty of Science
  4. Magy Baket, graduate program assistant, Chemistry Department, Faculty of Science
  5. Tara McMillen, student advisor/recruitment coordinator, Faculty of Science
  6. Lisa Rumiel, strategic and institutional research specialist, Office of Research Services (ORS)

The Phyllis Clark Campus Service Award

Feleg Balay
Feleg Balay

Feleg Belay, custodian, Custodial Services, Campus Services & Business Operations

This award is presented annually to a non-academic employee of York University who has made exemplary contributions to the operations of either of York’s campuses in terms of efficiency, cleanliness, safety, security and/or other campus or plant services.

Also nominated for this award:

  1. Shanthy Sathianathan, custodial services, Campus Services & Business Operations


The Harriet Lewis Team Award for Service Excellence

Office of the Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies

  • Anesa Albert, executive assistant to the Dean & AVP Graduate
  • Juan M. Arangote, financial officer
  • Arun Devdas, graduate student funding liaison officer
  • Christopher Douris, web & communications assistant
  • Audaisha Franks, student affairs coordinator
  • Richolette Freckleton, scholarship & awards coordinator
  • Donna Hewison, student affairs assistant
  • Nisa Lawson, student affairs assistant
  • Linda Lee, database analyst
  • Susan Lyn, human resources business partner
  • Kim McIntyre, postdoctoral services coordinator
  • Wesley Moir, manager, Communications, Public Relations & Recruitment
  • Michael Schiff, coordinator, Faculty Governance
  • Judy Tse, student affairs coordinator
  • Almey Tse Soriano, manager, Student Affairs
  • Natalie Vacianna, program support assistant, Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, Lassonde School of Engineering (former student affairs thesis coordinator, Faculty of Graduate Studies)
  • Sarah Whitaker, academic affairs officer
  • Stephanie Wong, administrative assistant
  • Sandra Yiu, graduate student funding liaison officer
The Faculty of Graduate Studies team

This award recognizes a team’s excellence in service and support to students, faculty, staff and/or other service users and its promotion of the York spirit in terms of imagination, creativity, innovation and redefining the possible in service to York’s community (internal or external).

Also nominated for this award:

  1. Information Technology Services, Glendon College
  • Aladin Alaily, director, Information Technology Services, Glendon College
  • Patrick Thibaudeau, manager, Information Systems & Technology Enhanced Learning, Information Technology Services, Glendon College
  • Mireille Kasembe Nyindu, administrative coordinator, Information Technology Services, Glendon College
  • Duncan Appleton, media technologist, Information Technology Services, Glendon College
  • Kevin James Friedberg, operations & events technician, Information Technology Services, Glendon College
  • Mathew Kensett, assistant technical coordinator, Information Technology Services, Glendon College
  • Luc Mallet, systems administrator, Glendon Information Technology Services
  • Johanna Parrales, web programmer, Glendon Information Technology Services
  • Rosa Tarulli, helpdesk coordinator, Glendon Information Technology Services
  1. Lassonde Student Welcome and Support Centre
  • Sean Billingsley, director, Design, Recruitment & Admissions, Office of the Dean, Lassonde School of Engineering
  • Liz Cook, workplace learning coordinator
  • Bob Eichvald, associate director, Co-op Program and Business Partnerships
  • Amy Gaukel, assistant dean, Students
  • Alexandria Guay, recruitment officer – International
  • Lauren Hall, academic services coordinator
  • Caitlin A. Hicks, academic advisor
  • Mudita Kundra, student recruitment officer
  • Marily Molina, workplace learning coordinator
  • Zeripha Moses, academic advisor
  • Hema Nair, manager, Student Advising
  • Rachel Ricer, academic advisor
  • Gayathry Wright, manager, Student Engagement & Recruitment

For more information on each of the awards and past recipients, visit the President’s Staff Recognition Awards website.

Osgoode’s Dean for a Day is Alexandra Da Silva

Alexandra Da Silva
Alexandra Da Silva
Alexandra Da Silva_Newsroom
Alexandra Da Silva

Second-year JD student Alexandra Da Silva has been chosen as Osgoode’s Dean for a Day for 2017,  Dean Lorne Sossin has announced.

“I will be attending her Family Law class on Friday, March 10 and she will be moving into my office for the day and assuming the duties of Dean,” Sossin said in a note to the Osgoode community.

Da Silva grew up in Mississauga and attended the University of Toronto where she studied Criminology and Portuguese. The only child of Portuguese immigrants to Canada, she is the first in her family to attend university. She currently serves as vice-president of the Osgoode First Generation Network (OFGN) and as a student ambassador and Dean’s Scribe. “I love law school,” she said. “It’s a challenge in the best way, but there are so many opportunities on offer for students at Osgoode.”

This year’s Dean for a Day contest question – Which one of the five goals set out in the Access Osgoode Strategic Plan 2017-2020 should be Osgoode’s top priority over the next three years and why? – elicited a total of 16 submissions via multiple communications channels including e-mail, YouTube and Twitter.  The Dean for a Day contest ran from February 6 to March 3 and was open to all Osgoode students.

The judges – Associate Dean (Students) Benjamin Berger and Assistant Dean (Students) Mya Rimon – carefully considered each submission and concluded that “Alexandra provided a clear and compelling vision of why community engagement would be central to realizing all of the priorities in the Strategic Plan, including access, reconciliation and enriching experiential education.”

Da Silva’s e-mail submission said: “Osgoode’s action plan should focus on community engagement. This is the only priority which acts as an open door to meaningful progress in each of the other listed priorities. By engaging with the diverse communities we serve (as an educational institution, and as a starting point for legal professionals) we can learn from those affected, instead of speculating, about accessibility needs and how to meet them; about which shortfalls in legal services could be covered through experiential education; about how to make reconciliation a cornerstone in all that Osgoode does; and about what our focuses in research intensification should be.”

The judges also awarded an “Honourable Mention” to third-year JD student Joseph Palmieri saying that his “visually remarkable video gave a wonderfully thought out action plan for enhancing our approach to experiential education.” His submission is here.

“I want to thank all of this year’s contest entrants for their insightful, thoughtful and creative submissions as well as the judges for their careful deliberations,” Sossin said. “Heartiest congratulations to Alexandra. I look forward to trading places with her on Friday.”

Theatre @ York’s season culminates with Strindberg’s ‘A Dream Play’

Dream Play
Dream Play

Theatre @ York’s 2016-17 season, focusing on the theme of Extraordinary Lives: Difference and Ability, culminates with a compelling contemporary take on A Dream Play by Swedish playwright August Strindberg, directed by David di Giovanni. The show previews March 12 and 13, opens on Tuesday, March 14 and runs until Saturday, March 18 in the Joseph G. Green Studio Theatre at York University’s Keele campus.

In the play, Agnes, a daughter of the gods, falls from heaven to Earth. Theatre @ York’s version has Agnes as a war journalist who is hospitalized for suicidal tendencies and clinical depression, and the play is framed as if she is dreaming it

Strindberg, who wrote the play in 1901 following a period of ill mental health, stated that it reflects “the disconnected but apparently logical form of a dream. Everything can happen; everything is possible.”

Wild and whirling, sometimes bleak and sometimes funny, A Dream Play is ultimately enchanting. Characters multiply, divide and coalesce, just as they might in a dream. Inside the frenzy of multiple characters and storylines that jump between memory and real time resonates a central chord of hope.

In the play, Agnes, a daughter of the gods, falls from heaven to Earth. Curious, she decides to investigate whether all our complaining about human suffering has merit. Endeavouring to become more human, she marries, has children, goes on vacation, but over time the sting of living becomes potent. She decides she must return to heaven – only to realize that she cannot.

“Our Agnes is a war journalist who is hospitalized for suicidal tendencies and clinical depression, and we’re framing the play as if she is dreaming it,” di Giovanni said. “Over the course of her dream, she has to reframe her existence in order to begin to rebuild her life.”

Di Giovanni sets the play in 2008 – a time, he notes, of tremendous hope and despair, with Barack Obama’s “Yes We Can,” but also the year of the stock market crash, a declining manufacturing sector, the continuing “war on terror” and Canadian forces in Afghanistan.

“Today, in 2017, we’re still living with the repercussions and detritus of that turning point,” said di Giovanni. “And so, in keeping with our season’s theme of difference and ability, our production explores the invisible disabilities that may affect how we live our lives: what we might call mental illness, clinical depression, PTSD or even spiritual dampening. We’re looking at the challenges many of us face in interacting with society.”

headshot of "A Dream Play" director David di Giovanni

David di Giovanni

For A Dream Play, di Giovanni directs a talented cast drawn from York University’s fourth-year and graduate acting conservatories. All elements of set, costume, lighting and sound are designed and executed by undergraduate theatre production students.

Di Giovanni’s directing credits include Body So Fluorescent (Rhubarb Festival, Toronto, 2016), Holy Tranity! (Café Cléopâtre, Montreal, 2013), Play it Again, Phaedra and MAP Season One (Mainline Theatre, Montreal, 2011-12), and The Last Days of Karl Nimeni (ARENA… der jungen Künste festival, Erlangen, Germany, 2012). He has worked extensively with Montreal’s MAP Project as a dramaturg, and has led numerous workshops on physical theatre. He is currently an MFA candidate in York University’s Graduate Program in Theatre.

With Extraordinary Lives: Difference and Ability, York’s Department of Theatre is working with members of the wider arts community to challenge traditionally ableist modes of making theatre, guided by an advisory panel of prominent deaf, mad and “crip” artists who are serving as facilitators for the season. As part of this commitment, relaxed and ASL interpreted performances have become an integral feature of Theatre @ York’s mainstage productions.

A Dream Play runs March 12 to 18 at 7:30pm nightly, plus matinees on Wednesday, March 15 and Friday, March 17 at 1pm, and Saturday, March 18 at 2pm. The March 15 matinee is a relaxed performance and the March 17 matinee is an ASL interpreted performance. Regular admission is $20, $12 for students and seniors, and $10 for groups of 10 or more. Admission to previews is $7, and $5 for the relaxed performance matinee on March 15 and the ASL interpreted performance on March 17. Tickets can be purchased online, by phone at 416-736-5888 or in person at the Box Office.

York PhD candidate earns international award for racial equity project

York PhD candidate earns international award
York PhD candidate earns international award

York University PhD candidate Bruno Véras has earned the Antonieta de Barros Award for the promotion of racial and gender equity in Brazil.

Bruno Véras

The award recognizes 30 initiatives or communication projects promoting racial equality and overcoming racism.

Véras is a grad student in the Department of History, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS), and was the director of the project “África Aparece: Linguagem, Ensino Debates sobre a Cultura Afro-Brasileira” (Africa displayed: Language, Education and Debates on the Afro-Brazilian Culture).

In recognition of the successful impact it had on the community, the project won R$ 20,000 (reais) from the Secretariat for the promotion of racial equality (Ministry of Women, Racial Equality & Human Rights).

“África Aparece” received initial funding from the Ministry of Education & Culture in Brazil, and advisory support from the Harriet Tubman Institute, York University.

Based in the Zequinha Barreto State Public School, “África Aparece” promoted Afro-Brazilian culture, stimulated positive memories of Africa, and enhanced self-esteem among the black youth in the the community of Dom Hélder Câmara in Pernambuco, Northeastern Brazil, through a series of workshops on photography, plastic arts, film screenings and educational exhibits.

Véras works under Professor Paul Lovejoy, and is also a graduate assistant for the Harriet Tubman Institute.

Antonieta de Barros was a pioneer in combating discrimination against blacks and women. She was the first black state deputy of Brazil and first woman deputy of the state of Santa Catarina. Throughout her life, de Barros was a teacher, journalist and writer.

Click here to access the project website and social media.

Faculty of Graduate Studies honours Prof. Carl James with its teaching award

Carl James
Carl James
Vice–President Academic and Provost Rhonda Lenton, right, presents the Faculty of Graduate Studies Teaching award to Prof. Carl James
Vice–President Academic and Provost Rhonda Lenton, right, presents the Faculty of Graduate Studies Teaching award to Prof. Carl James

The Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) honoured Professor Carl James with the Faculty’s Teaching Award for his contributions to graduate teaching and membership. James was presented his award at the Faculty Council meeting on March 2. Attending the presentation were friends and colleagues of James.

“Carl’s extraordinary work in the classroom, as a supervisor and as a mentor, as well as his passionate commitment to social justice, make him an exemplary member of the graduate community at York University,” said Vice–President Academic and Provost Rhonda Lenton, who presented the award. “His expertise in the fields of community-based scholarship and accessible education, in addition to his study of racialized education systems, and marginalized populations and education, has led to numerous prestigious awards inside and outside of the academy.”

James, a professor in the Faculty of Education and the Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community and Diaspora is affiliated with the graduate programs in Education, Interdisciplinary Studies, Social and Political Thought, Sociology, and Social Work.

Recognized nationally and internationally for his work in equity in relation to race, class, gender, racialization, immigration and citizenship, James was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2012.

“The fact is, community plays a significant role in our lives and in our educational, professional and occupational pursuits,” said James, after accepting his award. “As such, I take seriously that students too bring community-informed needs, interests, expectations and aspirations of the community to their educational process to which we must be responsive in terms of our course content, pedagogy and assignments.”

Nomination letters in support of the award noted the remarkable diaspora of his former graduate students, who now serve as teachers, public school administrators, professors and researchers in higher education, as well as community leaders in the not-for-profit sector.

His peers frequently cited his continuing and engrossing presence in research activity within York University and the surrounding community. Most notably, however, was the consistent admiration for the time and energy he has and continues to devote to his students and York alumni in support of their scholarship.

As the Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community and Diaspora, James will focus on addressing community issues and concerns within a framework of equity, inclusivity, and social justice. The work of the Chair will also consider the current context, building on its past accomplishments, and initiating a structure and activities that will serve to advance the principles of educational access and opportunities, cultural understanding, and community engagement.

“I appreciate this award particularly for what it symbolically represents to me,” he noted. “That is the work that myself and other Black, Indigenous and other racialized colleagues do daily in our work with students and at the university generally,” he said. “Ultimately, this recognition is not only about my teaching and research, but also about the possibilities for our graduate and undergraduate students here at York.”

The FGS Teaching Award is awarded annually to a member of the Faculty of Graduate Studies who has displayed substantial, significant and sustained excellence, commitment and enthusiasm to the multifaceted aspects of teaching at the graduate level at York.

Prof. Sakis Gekas selected to work with University of Crete

University of Crete – Department of History and Archaeology (image: By Tomisti via Wikimedia Commons)

Sakis Gekas, York University associate professor of history and Hellenic Heritage Foundation Chair, was awarded a prestigious fellowship by the Greek Diaspora Fellowship Program to travel to Greece and work at the University of Crete.

Sakis Gekas

Gekas is one of 21 Greek- and Cypriot-born scholars, hailing from a cross-section of 16 prominent U.S. and Canadian universities, who will travel to Greece to conduct academic projects with their peers at Greek universities.

During his visit, Gekas will work alongside Professor Sokratis Petmezas, Department of History & Archaeology, on a project called “Empire, Colonialism and Global History in the Mediterranean World: Research Collaboration, Graduate Teaching and Student Mentoring.”

Gekas and Petmezas plan to expand teaching and research collaboration in the above-mentioned fields more systematically to jointly develop the curriculum for graduate course(s) on empires and global history. The main curriculum development activity will be to design and co-teach a four-week seminar on the history of empires, colonialism, the Mediterranean and global history; in turn, the course will complement and enhance the curriculum and teaching for a graduate seminar and course at York that is part of the global/transnational history field in the Department of History and the graduate program.

The Department of History & Archaeology at Crete will also benefit from the curriculum. Such a curriculum on global and transnational history and the history of colonialism can inform graduate history courses within a quickly growing historiographical field that is attracting an increasing number of graduate students and attention from historians.

Gekas’ fellowship will foster relations between York University and the University of Crete, and facilitate the visit of students from the University of Crete to York as part of the SNF Undergraduate Scholarships Program. Such a development would significantly contribute to one of York’s main stated aims, to promote internationalization, by attracting more Greek students to our York campus.

Scholars selected for the fellowship program will work in areas that range from public health to chemical genomics research, and from English language curriculum to continuing education studies in urban food security. Twelve Greek universities were selected by the Greek Diaspora Fellowship Program to host the fellows for collaborative projects that meet specific needs at their institutions and in their communities, through proposals submitted by faculty members and administrators at the Greek universities.

The Greek Diaspora Fellowship Program is designed to help avert Greece’s “brain drain” and develop long-term, mutually beneficial collaborations between universities in Greece and the U.S. and Canada. It is managed by the Institute of International Education in collaboration with the Fulbright Foundation in Greece, and funded by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.

“The Stavros Niarchos Foundation is thrilled both with the appeal and interest the program has generated among academics of the diaspora, as well as the wide ranging expertise of the first round of Fellows,” said Stelios Vasilakis, director of Programs and Strategic Initiatives at SNF. “We look forward to these partnerships, which we believe will build long-lasting relationships and be beneficial to all parties involved. We are grateful to the Institute of International Education for their dedication to the program as well as the invaluable input of the esteemed Advisory Council.”

Over a period of two years, the program will award fellowships to 40 U.S. and Canadian-based academics to collaborate with universities throughout Greece to develop curricula, conduct research, and teach and mentor graduate students in priority areas identified by the Greek universities.

“The Stavros Niarchos Foundation’s generous support for these fellowships demonstrates the foundation’s commitment to expanding Greece’s human capital and investing in the country’s long-term economic recovery,” said Allan Goodman, president and CEO of the Institute of International Education.

York U organizes storm simulation event to explore youth roles in disaster risk management

When the town of “Resilientville” floods on Wednesday afternoon, young people from across Toronto will be on hand to help.

By role playing in simulations of severe flooding events, they will explore how Canadians can better prepare for major storms as Canada’s climate warms. They will also demonstrate how young people could be employed in the emerging climate adaptation sector to minimize the risk of damage from these storms.

The Youth Economic Opportunities in Disaster Risk Reduction & Climate Adaptation event, organized by York University’s Disaster & Emergency Management programs and CLARION and sponsored by RSA Canada, is a side event to the Fifth Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas, being held in Montreal this week by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Government of Canada.

The interactive flood scenarios at the Toronto event will be played by small groups of people who will be challenged to locate the services and supplies necessary to support residents who have fled their flooded homes. Following the simulation exercises, which are led by “civic leaders” such as the mayor of Resilientville, the town librarian, police captain and chaplain, they will discuss how emergency preparedness, response and recovery at the community level can create green employment opportunities in disaster risk reduction and the climate adaptation economy.

John Godfrey, the Government of Ontario’s special advisor on climate change, will help participants in the simulation exercise develop recommendations to send to the Montreal platform, suggesting how investment in business development and job training could contribute to disaster risk reduction and climate adaptation. The type of employment opportunities created might, for example, range from retrofitting homes to prevent damage, to creating green space to reduce the risk of flash floods, or creating an app for disaster risk management.

Speakers will include:
• Marjorie Brans, managing director, School for Social Entrepreneurs Ontario – CLARION’s involvement in community-based preparedness;
• Ali Asgary, associate professor, Disaster & Emergency Management program, York University – opportunities for youths in disaster risk management; and
• Helen Williams, Business Continuity manager, and Anthony Black, National Catastrophe manager, RSA Canada − an insurance company perspective on what disasters are doing to Canada and what is at stake if we are not prepared.

The event runs from 1 to 6:30pm at CSI Annex, 720 Bathurst St., Toronto with introductory remarks at 1pm, scenario role playing from 1:30 to 3pm, recommendations from 3 to 4pm and a panel discussion at 4:30pm.

For more on the program, visit