Women’s hockey team ties ice opener of Marion Hilliard Tournament

They marched onto the ice with the theme from Hockey Night in Canada playing in the background and an enthusiastic fan banging away on his drum. The crowd was small in number but very vocal in supporting their team.

These fans gathered at Varsity Arena on Friday night to watch the Varsity Blues women’s hockey team face off against the Mississauga Ice Bears in the opening match of the 2002 Marion Hilliard Tournament—a three-day exhibition tournament before the official OUA season. The Blues were up against severe competition, as the Ice Bears are a Senior AAA team that play in the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) and have four players with national team experience.

Blues head coach Karen Hughes showed confidence in her team’s ability to compete against such mighty opposition: “We have four strong lines that can go out there and compete. There is not much difference in terms of skill between them.”

In goal for U of T was fifth-year student and university hockey veteran Allison Houston. For the visiting Ice Bears, the net-minding duties were given to Keely Brown.

The first period started in a flurry of excitement, with good scoring chances coming at both ends of the ice and solid end-to-end play by both clubs. The lone goal of the period was scored by Blues forward Jill Savin at 16:25 after a beautiful set-up by Jenny McRae.

Mississauga made the most of its four shots in the second period by scoring two goals. Kim Malcher was able to tie the score at 2 before the end of the period, though, scoring with just under seven minutes to play.

The pace in the third period was just as frantic, but yielded no goals for either side, ending the contest in a 2-2 draw. Keely Brown, from Mississauga, was named player of the game, while Deandra Locicero was honoured on the Blues squad.

A noteworthy performance was also put forth by Jenny McRae, who displayed excellent speed and set up multiple scoring chances with quick, accurate passes.

“We got a good quick-start in the game. Sometimes we start slow,” said Lisa Robertson, Blues backup goalie for this game. “We were not intimidated by older players and players that have been on the national team.”

When asked for a prediction on the upcoming season, Robertson was not humble in her forecast: “I think we have a really good chance of winning the OUA title this year. All the other teams in our division have become stronger this year, but so have we.”

Coach Hughes was proud of the effort her team gave against the Ice Dogs, stressing that the team had good speed and good energy on the ice. But she also shed light on the areas she thinks need to be improved in order for the Blues to succeed.

“We need to continue to work on the offence,” remarked Hughes. “Our power play needs to be better, obviously, as well.” The power play was the only area the Blues struggled in on Friday, not being able to score on six chances and giving up a couple good short-handed chances in the process.

The first regular-season Blues game is at York on October 23.

Local singer-songwriter reaps D.I.Y. dividends

She’s toured with David Bowie, Ron Sexsmith is a fan, she’s only 27 and has seven albums under her belt, but Emm Gryner’s still excited at the prospect of hauling her guitar across the country just as the temperature is starting to drop.

“This is my first tour across Canada with my band, so I’m pretty pumped,” Gryner said from Los Angeles. “This tour we get to cross Canada in a tour bus, so no Honda Civic this time!”

That’s the type of positive attitude that has steered the Forrest, Ontario-raised singer-songwriter through nearly a decade in the capricious music industry. Realizing the power of the do-it-yourself ethic early on, Gryner studied recording and music production before trying her luck on Toronto’s coffeehouse circuit. A deal with Mercury Records saw many of Gryner’s musical ambitions realized on 1998’s Public, a lushly-produced affair that featured the London Session Orchestra on several tracks. Good critical response and several high-profile gigs didn’t keep the deal from going sour, and Gryner parted ways with the label following its merger with Polygram.

Gryner’s never been one to play the industry game, anyhow. Fiercely independent, she values creative control of her craft above all else, and maintains a grassroots approach to the music business. But that’s a slow, tough way to build a career, especially since Gryner should be a household name by now, at least in Canada. She had a big radio hit with “Summerlong” in 1999, toured as a backup singer with David Bowie in 2000, and has appeared on Mike Bullard’s show three times in as many years. And yet she still drives from city to city, playing small “living-room shows” at fans’ homes from time to time.

“My career has been ultra-joyous,” Gryner said. “I feel lucky that every step I make seems to make sense and come at the right time. There is something totally euphoric about doing this full-time and keeping a foot in what I guess you would call a real existence. I like it that way right now. As long as I can continue what I do, and people keep buying the albums and coming to shows, I feel blessed.”

Gryner relocated to New York during the Bowie tour, and then shifted to Los Angeles to work with producer Wally Gagel (Eels, Folk Implosion) on her new album, Asianblue. Gryner remained in the States to tour after the record was completed and has built a solid fan base in places like New York, Boston, D.C. and Philadelphia, but says she’s ready to return home.

“I’m looking forward to moving back later this year. Hurray!” she said. “It’s too hot to write in L.A. anyway. I like the weather and seasons and thunderstorms (and blizzards) of Canada.”

She’ll get to watch the seasons change over a 14-city tour of Canada in support of Asianblue that stopped in T.O. last week. Released this past August, Asianblue is the perfect pop album Gryner has been threatening to write throughout her career, a collection of melodic confections with bittersweet centres. Gryner has always played with the pop music convention of setting dark lyrics to upbeat tunes, but achieves just the right balance on this record.

“I grew up in the eighties listening to the radio, so like it or not, all of that pop stuff has seeped into my veins,” Gryner explains. “Since I started writing songs, I’ve noticed that the only real time I want to write is when I have a trial in my life, or when there’s something I really need to express. So put these two things together, and you have ‘up’ songs with ‘not-so-up’ lyrics.”

The incredibly prolific Gryner has just finished producing the debut album for Winnipeg newcomer Andrew Spice, which will be released on her Dead Daisy label this winter, and collaborated on music for a short by filmmaker Duncan Jones, David Bowie’s son. Is there anything she hasn’t done?

“I’m still dying to tour Europe,” Gryner replies. “I heard you can get big in Germany pretty easy—a la David Hasselhoff—so I’m looking into it!”

Photograph by Simon Turnbull

Picking at Chinese identity

If you watch the bustle of St. George Street, you’ll see it plainly: Chinese students are everywhere.

They are so everywhere that U of T offers the option of convocating in two places—Toronto and Hong Kong. English-as-a-Second-Language courses have never been more popular here. And one just has to wait in line for the computers at Robarts to see how many Hotmail accounts are in Mandarin.

Yes, we’re easy to spot on campus, us Chinese students. But we’re not as easy to understand. Even we find it difficult to figure out who we are sometimes. For many whose native tongue is English, the Chinese-speaking student community is as familiar yet foreign as Chinatown’s weekend market vendors.

A friend, a self-professed “white bread,” calls the world of Chinese-speaking students a “taboo realm filled with bubble tea and ‘housemate wanted’ ads reading ‘Asian preferred.’” He finds this realm to be an impenetrable subculture that’s “cliquish, shy and wanting to be left alone.” His friend goes even further, calling it “the Asian underground.”

What it means to be Chinese can be a touchy subject. It’s easy to use offensive labels and ignorant stereotypes. It’s also easy to shunt identity into a term such as “underground” that implies it is Chinese-speaking students who do not want to join the outside world. Such terms can easily cram everyone into a jumbo human spring roll called “Chinese,” hiding the diversity.

“When you talk about Chinese in Canada, there are at least three types,” explains my Chinese friend “Rachel” a recent U of T graduate in human biology. Like almost everybody, she agrees to talk only under a pseudonym. “There are the ‘FOBs,’ there are the ‘CBCs,’ and then there are the ‘In-Betweens.’”

FOB—an acronym for “Fresh Off the Boat”—refers to recent Chinese immigrants who dress in trendy, Hong Kong-style attire like Diesel jackets and super-high platform shoes. FOBs drive navy blue BMWs or silver Audis. Fobby accessories include designer cell phone plates and sticker photos.

CBC, on the other hand, stands for “Canadian-born Chinese.” They pull what it means to be Chinese in a whole new direction.

Torn between these two types are the “In-Betweens.” They are Chinese-Canadians who were not born in Canada but have lived here long enough to have lost or given up the fobby style, yet who do not identify fully as CBCs. There are many like this in Toronto.

Having been in Canada for ten years, with fluent English under her belt but preferring to converse in Cantonese and Mandarin with close friends, Rachel considers herself an In-Between.

Another friend, “Casey,” who is a science student, admits she can tell the difference between a FOB and a CBC. When told that she looks like a CBC, her answer is a very satisfied, “Good! I am! I don’t want to look like a FOB.” She detests the tight pants, bright shirts, and dyed red hair, all of which look very fobby to her. “I don’t like to dye my hair red. I’d rather dye it brown,” she says. “I like to look normal.”

“Chris,” a music major, spurts it out: “CBCs tend to emphasize free will, expressing yourself, and being creative. For FOBs, it’s ‘go-go-go!’ It’s all about speed.” He has found it difficult to connect with fellow classmates who speak mainly Chinese. “Compatibility is important. It’s hard [to communicate] when there’s no connection.”

Though there may be different perceptions about what being Chinese means, everyone decries the catch term “underground” for Chinese-speaking students.

“What underground? That sounds like a cult—we’re so on the ground! We’re the obvious ones here,” says ‘Damian’, also a recent U of T graduate. He, too, declines to give his real name. As we talk, our conversation switches between Cantonese and English, depending on what we feel like at the moment. It’s classic “In-Between” chatting.

“Take a photograph of the strip of St. George Street, or go to Sid Smith, or Con Hall, and you’ll see that most of the faces are Chinese. They think we’re underground? They can call us a club. But underground—it’s not a positive word to me.”

Jacqueline So is a Chinese Studies specialist and editor-in-chief of Footprint, the oldest Chinese student publication on campus. She does have qualms about using her real name but eventually agrees.

So explains it this way: “Collectively, Chinese tend to prefer to keep to themselves. Compared to other Asian communities on campus, there are more than twenty associations run by Chinese-speaking students. This is a huge number.”

What about their sense of belonging in this mostly English-speaking university? “Most Chinese-speaking students at U of T intend to return to Hong Kong, Taiwan or China once they finish school. And many of them are international students. U of T is more like a place where they’re passing through.”

Moreover, one’s sense of belonging is strongly rooted in one’s native language. Though the majority of Chinese-speaking students are relatively fluent in English, it isn’t their preferred language.

“English usage is more confined to lectures. Outside the classroom, it’s Chinese. There is also an inherent familiarity in picking up a Chinese novel as opposed to an English one,” says So.

One sunny day, I cautiously bring up this topic with a long-time friend, a Chinese-Canadian who has always refused to be labelled as anythnig other than a human being. Unfortunately he, too, doesn’t want to give his name.

“It seems that the Chinese-speaking student community at U of T may be perceived by the rest of the campus as an underground society of sorts,” I say.

“What do you mean by underground? When have we ever been underground?” he says. The word “underground” evokes rebellion: Yamaha motorcycles, leather jackets, dark sunglasses.

I explain to him that it’s a term thrown around by English-speaking students.

“So just because they speak English and get themselves drunk [he calls this a stereotypically “white’” activity], then they’re aboveground, then they’re normal?”

Yet, what does it mean to be normal? Or to be Canadian? What does it mean to be Chinese?

“Doesn’t mean anything,” says Damian. “I’m just Damian. And I happen to be yellow. Canada is so multicultural, I’m so blending in.”

To him, one questions one’s identity only when there is a crisis. “It doesn’t mean anything whether I’m Chinese or Canadian. We don’t really think about it. If we start thinking about it, then there’s something wrong.”

Grads get jobs, survey says

A recent survey of university graduates says a post-secondary education is a safe ticket to a job.

On Sept. 17, the Council of Ontario Universities released a survey that concluded Ontario university grads continue to enjoy high employment rates. The document, which was the fourth of its kind, surveyed 42,800 graduates and was conducted with the help of Statistics Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.

The survey states that six months after graduation, the overall employment rate for university graduates is 95.8 per cent, while two years later, the rate increases to 96.6 per cent.

The survey argues that graduate employment rates are high, but the council’s findings also reveal inconsistencies since 2000-2001. The employment rate for graduates then was 97.2 per cent—0.6 per cent higher than today.

Interestingly, the six-month post-graduation rate has improved since 2000-2001, when it stood at 94.6 per cent. That is 1.2 per cent lower than today’s rate.

Arnice Cadieux, the executive director of public affairs at the Council of Ontario Universities, said the survey proves that “university graduates have the highest employment rate of all post-secondary graduates.” She also said the rates are “consistently high across all disciplines.”

Cadieux argued these findings underline the employment benefits that come with earning a university degree, as well as the higher income-earning potential of university grads.

But other education experts said employment rates don’t give the whole picture of job prospects after graduation. Mary Harari, manager of the youth employment program Completing the Circle, said she finds that “university graduates cannot find jobs in their field.” She said that although her service often caters to recent high-school graduates, university graduates approach her because they feel their skills are not specific enough.

“Arts degrees are too general,” she said. Harari noted that the double cohort year is causing many high school graduates to re-think a university education because they are scared they will be unable to get in.

Yvonne Rodney, the associate director of the University of Toronto Career Centre, said that while the Career Centre does not track graduate employment trends, she has noticed employers are now waiting longer before they post job listings. “Just-in-time hiring has become more frequent,” Rodney explained.

She said employers are now more wary about hiring because they do not want to renege on an offer or make a poor investment.

The Council’s brochure can be read online at www.cou.on.ca.

Rae sheds light on Concordia riots at anti-Semitism panel discussion

The Concordia riot in Montreal was put under the microscope last Tuesday by a distinguished panel including former Ontario premier and U of T professor Bob Rae.

“Anti-Semitism, in its modern form, is a particularly vicious expression of the thought that somehow the Jews as people are less than human,” said Rae.

“It shouldn’t be happening where our government is unable to say publicly that there is something called anti-Semitism…which is alive and well…in Europe and in Canada and in North America. [We] should be teaching our children…. that this is a kind of behaviour which is especially vicious and especially cruel, because we know from history what the consequences of ignoring this hatred have been.”

Some panelists saw the Concordia riot not only as a threat to freedom of speech on university campuses, but also as a reflection of growing anti-Semitism around the world.

The panelists were also concerned that societies have become less tolerant. In the words of Globe and Mail columnist Margaret Wente, “In the name of tolerance, we cannot tolerate intolerance.”

A student from Concordia University, Yoni Petel, was present among the panelists to share his experience during the riot. “They were fighting, the window was smashed and there was a guy with a knapsack with rocks. They also threw chairs and tables at the police. It was very violent.”

According to Petel, what happened at Concordia was “not an isolated incident. It is a build-up of a lot of harassment and intimidation…this is the most extreme example of violence and intimidation on campus, but it is not the first example.”

He also said university students should be concerned about what happened because the riot was a real threat to the freedom of speech for students in Concordia. “Everybody lost their freedom of speech at Concordia…and who’s to say that it wouldn’t happen here? So the average U of T student should start thinking about it,” Petel said.

Battle lines drawn in student union vote

U of T began the process of voting on joining Canada’s largest student organization this morning, as the campaign period for the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) referendum officially began.

The referendum is being run by a four-member committee composed of two CFS representatives and two U of T Students’ Administrative Council (SAC) representatives.

Emoline Thiruchelvam, the vice-president education at SAC, is one member of the committee. She said she is concerned the “organization of the referendum is lacking.”

A particularly contentious issue is the presence of CFS posters and buttons on campus. SAC committee representatives consider the materials part of the campaign. That would mean their cost should be deducted from the $15,000 spending limit imposed on each side in the referendum.

“Andrew [Tyler, the other SAC rep on the committee] and I were arguing that anything with the CFS logo on it was promotional material,” Thiruchelvam said.

“It might influence the vote,” she added.

The CFS representatives on the committee disagreed. “They aren’t materials that were developed for membership campaign,” said Lucy Watson, the CFS internal co-ordinator and a member of the committee. “Members of the CFS have the right to research, and distribute the materials,” Watson added. The issue was tabled for discussion at the next meeting, scheduled for Monday evening.

Thiruchelvam was also concerned that CFS committee members will be actively campaigning in the referendum, even though they are responsible for deciding what is fair conduct during the campaign period. “There should be some official neutrality,” Thiruchelvam added.

Thriruchelvam said she is dismayed that SAC’s equity commission gave $500 of student money to the pro-CFS side in the referendum. “I don’t see why SAC should fund them at all,” she said. The CFS’ 2002-2003 budget has $60,000 allocated for “membership drives and referenda.”

“I don’t have a problem with the organization [CFS] itself, I just have a problem with how the referendum is being run,” Thiruchelvam said.

Joel Duff, the Ontario chair of the CFS, said the rules surrounding the referendum are designed to ensure “a fair and democratic election.”

Duff denied the CFS materials have anything to do with the referendum campaign. Many of the contentious materials, like CFS buttons, were developed before the campaign and are distributed across the country. Duff said the materials “do not attempt specifically to influence your vote.”

“There’s some misunderstanding…. We can work through in a collegial, professional manner,” Duff added.

But last year’s chief returning officer for U of T’s SAC is concerned at the way the referendum is being run. “Most of the stuff is fairly straightforward,” said Mike Foderick, who is a SAC volunteer this year. But he said the CFS’ definition of what constitutes campaign material is too narrow. “Anything, really, that could influence at least one vote is campaign material,” Foderick said.

“I’m going to submit a complaint [Monday] morning,” he added.

Foderick is also concerned that paid CFS staff members will be so involved in the election. “They’re actually doing everything from watching over the ballot boxes to handing out the ballots,” he said.

“I was initially someone who was in favour of the CFS but the process has soured me,” he added. Duff said the referendum will be above-board and democratic. “We’ll let students decide in a fair and appropriate manner,” he said.

Time for free education, say student groups

As Canadian post-secondary students continue to see tuition fees rise, voices of dissent ring louder. But the larger student unions want to take the idea further; forget fee reduction, they say, it’s time for free education.

All the major student unions and governments at U of T currently espouse free education policies. These include SAC (Students’ Administrative Council), APUS (Association of Part-Time Undergraduate Students), GSU (Graduate Students’ Union), and ASSU (Arts and Science Students’ Union). Now, led by representatives from each of these groups, students are working to establish a national act that will make free university education a right in Canada. They gathered last Thursday at a forum held to discuss the act.

The plan is to model this lobbying effort after that which created the Canada Health Act. While the fight for universal health care was not easy, Chris Ramsaroop, a part-time student and student governor, notes that it is now “a cherished value.” Indeed, health care is closely linked to education policy. “To have a healthier society, our society should have full [access to] education,” added Ramsaroop.

As with the Canadian health care example, demands for radical policy shifts are often dismissed in their early stages. But the GSU’s Elan Ohayon believes that “when they finally come through, they become some of the things that we value the most and defend the most.”

The meeting also included a discussion of the ongoing struggle for free post-secondary education in Canada. Early demands for increased access to education took flight after veterans returned to the country after World War Two. The mid-’90s saw other attempts to advance free education, often consisting of collaborations between faculty and students.

Free U of T, an initiative begun in 1999, is a novel approach to bringing free education to campus as well as an incubator for education policy activism. Another example of free education initiatives is This Way Please, an alternative, free orientation week introduced in the fall of 1999 that emphasized non-corporatism.

The student groups involved with this project hope to educate the U of T student body about the Free Education Movement. “We’re looking for new ideas and new strategies,” Ramsaroop said. According to Ohayon, discussion of free education rather than fee reduction “really shifts the entire dialogue.”

The Greatest: larger than life

Age and Parkinson’s disease may have physically slowed the man, but Muhammad Ali can still put on a show. The 60-year-old boxing icon was honoured at SkyDome yesterday during the Toronto Argonauts home game against the Ottawa Renegades.

Ali was in town to kick off a national fundraising campaign for Parkinson Society Canada and Parkinson’s research at U of T. The game, which was attended by an entourage of celebrities, raised over $200,000 and attracted international media coverage.

Lou Gossett Jr., Bernard Hopkins, Mats Sundin and Elvis Stojko were just some of the luminaries on hand to show respect to the man who shook the world, both through his actions in the ring and his battles outside of it.

“[Ali] is one of the most influential people in the world and one of the biggest athletes, so it’s great that he would [come to Toronto] and raise money for Parkinson’s,” said Toronto Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin. He presented Ali with a Leafs jersey during a special halftime ceremony, which included a speech by Bill Clinton and was broadcast via satellite.

A loud and appreciative crowd of about 25,000 made the halftime ceremony a nostalgic one, reminding those in attendance of Ali’s popularity around the world. Chants of “Ali, Ali” resonated throughout SkyDome when he was introduced, with the crowd giving Ali a five-minute standing ovation.

Boxing greats Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis, Larry Holmes and George Chuvalo, each relating their experiences with Ali, also made speeches. Finally, the anxious crowd got to hear from Ali himself. His speech brought a rare admission that the icon is no longer what he used to be.

“I am not the greatest,” said Ali to a stunned crowd. “He is the greatest,” he said, pointing to current world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis. His emotional statement brought tears to many faces in the stands as well as on the field.

George Chuvalo, who fought Ali at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1966, said in his speech that Ali’s legacy of greatness lives on today and always will.

“My friend Muhammad Ali was a champ and still is a champ,” he said. Chuvalo was one of a handful of boxers whom Ali was unable to knock out. He beat Chuvalo on points.

After the half-time ceremony, Ali addressed the media during a brief press conference at the SkyDome Hotel. He spoke about dealing with Parkinson’s and gave hope to all those who suffer from it.

“God has a way of testing people. That’s why we all have trials in life, even the greatest boxer in the world,” he said. “What you [Parkinson’s patients] need to do is to continue to pray, and continue to do anything necessary,” he said.

Oscar-winning actor Lou Gossett Jr. also expressed his admiration for Ali’s fight to find a cure for Parkinson’s. “With the technologies we have today, we can cure many people, especially with the help of a great man like [Ali].”

 U of T’s Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases is one of the beneficiaries of the fundraising campaign. More than 300 U of T students volunteered at yesterday’s game, collecting donations from fans and handing out Ali posters.

U of T student volunteer Rocco Coluccio believes Ali is a living testament to what determination can do. “[Ali] is showing that even through the disease you can persevere and help a lot of people by going on with your life, like travelling here,” said Coluccio.

Ali hasn’t stepped in a boxing ring in over 20 years, but his popularity has not diminished, according to world middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins. “Ali is still the greatest, especially if you’re from the inner streets, where people still want to have the white shoes and the white shorts, and talk a lot of stuff,” he said, of Ali’s trademark uniform.

Photograph by Kara Dillon