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Blues women’s hockey team comes up short in tournament final

Sometimes things just don’t go your way. This was the case for the Varsity Blues women’s hockey team, who after two ties against the Mississauga Ice Bears on Friday and Saturday lost in the final of the 2002 Marion Hilliard Tournament on Sunday at Varsity Arena, against the Concordia Stingers.

The women came out flat from the outset, lacking the jump needed to overcome Concordia’s might. A costly giveaway just 2:12 into the game gave Concordia a 1-0 lead.

This seemed to inspire the Blues, as forward Jenny McRae connected a nice pass to defence Kim Malcher, who wove her way through the opponent’s defence and put the puck past the outmatched Concordia goalie. This was as close as the Blues would come, as Concordia slipped past them 3-1 to capture the tournament.

Strong defensive play from Safiya Muharuma and some great goaltending from goalie Lisa Robertson were the lone bright spots on the Blues squad. U of T’s offence did not give the team a chance to win, mustering only one goal during the match.

Blues women’s hockey coach Karen Hughes described the play as “flat,” and said Concordia outworked the Blues in all aspects of the game. She added that the team has to be prepared now, with three big games coming up this week.

Although this was not the result the Blues wanted, they do have something to look forward to. The defending CIS women’s hockey champions open the 2002-2003 regular season this week, and the Blues play their first three games on the road at York, Western and Windsor.

Sing-Sing bursts with Britpop brilliance

Remember the mid-’90s heyday of Brit rock? Most of those bands are all but forgotten in the rush to crown the latest thing out of Sweden, but alt-pop fans and music scribes alike still mourn the late, great Lush. One of the forerunners of the “shoegazer” scene, their sound was marked by the swirling, hypnotic guitar of Emma Anderson. So those without a taste for the Hives might be happy to know that Anderson is back. Looking for a new musical partner after Lush broke up in 1996, Anderson met singer Lisa O’Neill at their former boyfriends’ London flat, and the two formed electro-pop band Sing-Sing.

“First and foremost, she has a great voice, and she’s very musical,” Anderson says of O’Neill. “She couldn’t play an instrument, but she’s just got a brilliant ear for harmonies and melody and stuff. We got on very well. She’s not been in the music industry before, and even now, she looks at things from a slightly different perspective, which is quite refreshing.”

Sing-Sing’s debut album, The Joy of Sing-Sing, has just been released on these shores, and it’s been a long, strange trip for it to get here. The duo’s first single, “Feels Like Summer,” came out in the UK in 1998 on the Cocteau Twins’ label, Bella Union. That hit was followed by another single in 1999 on another label. As they slowly worked on the full-length with producer Mark van Hoen (Locust), the duo began playing key gigs and were embraced by radio. The album finally came out last year in the UK, and is now on record shelves across North America. So are the gals just slow workers, or was this some sort of deliberate plan to carefully conquer the world market by market?

“No master plan—it’s just the way it happened,” laughs Anderson. “It would have been better not to have everything stretched out over such a long time. You release singles and get a bit of press, and everyone thinks that the album’s going to come out. It’s not a great way of doing it, but we couldn’t help it—it was just circumstance that dictated what happened.”

The Joy of Sing-Sing is a frothy concoction of melody and harmony—O’Neill’s sweetness-and-light vocals are contrasted with Anderson’s trademark spy guitar lines. Well-placed synth and clever beats tilt the project towards the realm of electro, but the album’s eclecticism means the duo haven’t been lumped in with the rest of the so-called “electro” crowd.

“I think most journalists are actually very lazy, and what we’ve found is that we’ve come over here and people are like, ‘Oh, it’s shoegazing,’” Anderson says. “Well, it’s not. It’s only because I’m in the band that they say that. Well, I don’t think it’s shoegazing at all—it’s sort of electronic, alternative pop, I dunno. I suppose with this electroclash thing going on at the moment, it might be a good thing not to be part of, because these things tend to die off and leave destruction in their wake.”

Sing-Sing are currently on their first major North American tour, which stops at Lee’s Palace this Saturday. Anderson says she’s looking forward to returning to Toronto for the first time in six years, and is hoping some of Lush’s old fans will be there to greet her. Partner O’Neill says the audience can look forward to a full-band show complete with samples, keyboards, even trumpet.

“The sound is a lot rawer, a lot more in-your-face,” O’Neill explains. “We just turn the volume up on all the songs when we play live.”

Out of the broom closet

A brief history of Wicca:

5th—10th centuries: The rise of the Catholic Church. Pagans are feared and their lands and titles are confiscated. Most of the persecuted are not Pagans, but rather persons with whom the Church clashed, or who were richer than the Church.

11th—17th centuries: The Catholic Church assigns their holidays close to the solstices and equinoxes, when the Pagans and Druids celebrate their holidays. Pagan gods and goddesses are converted into Christian saints. Witches are popularized in folklore and are generally depicted as herbalists or old women.

18th century: A church document called the Canon Episcopi declares that Witches are illusions. Simultaneously, the Inquisition takes hold. The Church takes the lands and monies of those charged and/or convicted of witchcraft. Church holdings in Europe increase dramatically.

1736: Witchcraft becomes illegal in many parts of Europe, including England.

1722: Last documented witch burning. A woman named Janet Horne is burnt alive in Scotland. Hangings replace burnings, which are deemed “inhumane.”

1952: England repeals its Witchcraft laws, meaning Witches can, in theory, practice openly without fear of reprisal.

1950s: Alex Gardanian publishes his thesis on Wicca. It is the definitive work and the beginnings of what is now defined as Witchcraft.

1994: Wicca and Paganism are recognized as official world religions.

I converted almost three years ago. I don’t have fangs, kidnap children or ride through the sky on a broomstick, and I can’t wiggle my finger and turn you into a rabbit. But I am a Witch. I do believe in magick. I wear a pentagram and if it were legal in Canada, you’d find me jumping over a bonfire naked this Halloween.

Magick is our way of changing the world around us. We practice rites and rituals to attune ourselves with the earth through phases of the moon and send out energies to change the energies of others. Spelt with a ���k,” we use the term “magick” to distinguish it from fantasy.

I have been fired from one job because of my religion. When I came out of the broom closet two years ago, some of my closest friends refused to speak to me, believing I had been sucked in by a cult.

Wicca is a controversial topic. It does not embody the witchcraft that was practiced in the sixteenth century and is very difficult to define since we do not have a central leadership for our faith. This is so because so many Wicca practice on a traditional level, what their mothers taught them or what they’ve gleaned from books and teachings of Wicca.

Getting Naked

Many Witches practice alone, as I do. Many more practice in covens. More still practice skyclad (naked). Clothing hinders your energies and can cause confusion in your castings.

There is no such thing as a warlock. Male Witches are simply Witches. Warlock is an old English term for “truth-twister,” and came out of a need to put male witches in a category of their own.

If you see someone walking down the street dressed entirely in black, with dyed black hair, black nail polish, black lipstick, and excessive eye makeup, that is generally called the gothic style. Some witches dress in that style, but many don’t. I’m five-foot-seven, have reddish-gold hair, blue eyes and glasses. The only reason my skin is so pale is because I’m Irish.

Why it has taken so long for Wicca to become even moderately accepted? What we might call magick, Christians might call prayer. It’s a changing of the energies that bind the world together through concentrated meditation and will. Yet magick comes from within the individual, not through a God. An individual can make mistakes and that is one of the hardest lessons to learn in Wicca. No, it’s not all mirrors, smoke, candles and smoldering incense. These are artefacts, as are crosses and Stars of David.

I know what you’re thinking

We also believe in extra-sensory perception, or ESP. We believe that every human on the planet has these abilities, should they choose to recognize and tap into them. Foresight can come in dreams, or in meditation. Empathy and telepathy can be measured through changes in a person’s energy. Have you ever picked up a phone and said hello before the first ring? You probably thought that you should get the phone before you picked it up, even if you hadn’t heard it ring.

It’s not all black and white…

“So… are you a good Witch or a bad Witch?” That’s the question, hands down, that drives me nuts. There is no such thing as a totally good or totally bad Witch. There is no such thing as black or white magic. Everything is a subtle shade of gray. When you cast a spell, it will bounce off other energies and even when you think you’re casting a “good” spell, it can still have “bad” effects. For example, a woman casts a spell for money and her child suddenly dies by falling out of a window at school when dared to walk on the roof by his classmates. But mom gets the life insurance payout. She got what she wanted, but not in the way she intended at all. Personally, I try to walk the tightrope of neutrality, only using magick when it is truly needed.

There is one sect of Wicca, though, that annoys me to no end: the Fluffy-Bunnies, or Fluffies for short. They’re the ones that dress as though it were Halloween all year, wear many large pentagrams (mine is about the size of a loonie and I wear it under a shirt), and say “Oh, goddess” every five seconds. Quick joke: How do you tell a Fluffy from a Witch? Throw both in a river. The Fluffy sinks under the weight of all her pendants.

Fluffies have simply changed the ideals of Wicca to suit their individual needs. Unicorns and manticores populate their imagination and they think that they can cast transfiguration spells with a few well-placed words and wand motions. Harry Potter comes to mind. That, or they are out there being “different” and want to change their religions to something more risqué and irresponsible just to be strange and fascinating.

Many think that because I’m Pagan, I have no knowledge of others’ religions and proceed to lecture me on their practices. I’ve read the Torah, the Bible, the Koran, the Tao Te Ching, the Book of Five Rings, and several philosophies on Buddhism. All of these teachings hold something for those who worship. I found in Wicca something akin to a born-again Buddhist or Jew.

Witches are simply people who attune their bodies to the earth by marking the passing of moons, equinoxes, and solstices. We work at alongside persons of other religions. You might say that it’s impossible to tell a Christian from a Witch. But you’re wrong. The bumper sticker that says “my other car is a broom” is your best bet.

I don’t care if I’m not recognized, and if someone asks, my religion is my own damn business.

Now if I can just find a subtle way to tell my parents…

Gay marriage Canter-buried

The Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken out against blessing gay and lesbian unions, saying differences over homosexuality could potentially cause a rift in the Anglican Church.

The Most Rev. George Carey made these comments while visiting Wycliffe College on Monday. He was in Toronto to celebrate the college’s 125th anniversary and to receive an honorary doctorate.

“The Bible is very, very clear. I mean it’s very, very clear on where we stand on the issue … Marriage is central to human sexuality,” he said.

His comments were made in response to the decision of a British Columbia diocese to bless homosexual unions. The governing body of the New Westminster diocese voted last June in favour of the decision and the diocese’s bishop, Michael Ingham, supported the move. Ingham did so without consulting with global Anglican leaders, although he did consult with leaders of the Anglican Church in Canada.

Carey said he was concerned about the effect the Vancouver diocese’s decision would have on the stability of Anglicanism and its 70 million members around the world. “If more and more dioceses take this approach, it’s going to undermine the unity of the Anglican Communion and I don’t know if the Canadian Church can afford to pay the deep price,” he said.

He said he was open to hearing arguments as to why homosexual unions should be blessed and why gays and lesbians should be ordained as priests. “I’m not absolutist on the issue,” he said. He acknowledged that there is a “tension between the gospel, which is reaching out to everybody and which wants to include everybody, and yet is saying to people who may be in a homosexual relationship, ‘You don’t belong.’”

Carey, 67, is due to retire at the end of the month, having been asked by the Queen to prolong his tenure so that he might oversee the religious aspects of her jubilee celebrations. He has been the Archbishop of Canterbury for 11 years and was appointed by former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

While his conservative views on gay and lesbian issues are well-known, Carey did allow women admission into the priesthood of the Church of England. This move highlighted a divergence between Anglicanism and Catholicism, as Pope John Paul adamantly prohibits female priests.

The issue of homosexuality in the Anglican Church has been raised again, since Carey’s successor, Rowan Williams, has ordained a gay priest. Williams is said to be critical of the Church’s stance on homosexuality and has also spoken out against the U.S.-led war on terrorism and any possible invasion of Iraq.

Unlike the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury is not the formal head of the Anglican Church. Anglican churches worldwide form an association, known as the Anglican Communion, over which Carey is seen to have moral authority and significant influence, but not absolute control. He cannot force the diocese of New Westminster to reverse its decision.

Ship comes in for waterfront

After years of talk between the federal, provincial and municipal governments over revitalizing the waterfront, the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corporation (TWRC) has announced its plan to reshape Toronto’s decrepit shoreline.

A 30-year, $17-billion plan will transform the industrial sites and wastelands that make up much of Toronto’s waterfront into a mix of parks, housing and commercial districts.

The principal focus is the renewal of the central waterfront, according to Kristin Jenkins, TWRC’s vice-president of public affairs. This area extends from Dowling Ave. in the west to Coxwell Ave. in the east.

The TWRC report, released Oct. 17, says its goal is to transform and beautify the area for tourism, housing, commerce and leisure. Sustainable communities will be developed with an improved transportation system.

New amenities such as cultural, entertainment and recreational facilities will be added to the area. Jenkins said about 40,000 residential units, and commercial space slated to create as many as 35,000 jobs are part of the plan, as well as a large-scale entertainment resort complex.

One of the driving forces for the re-development was the failed 2008 Olympics bid, but all three levels of government agreed it was a worthwhile endeavour even though Toronto lost the bid to Beijing, Jenkins said.

The TWRC’s development plan and business strategy, which illustrates the design, financing and implementation of the project, needs approval from all levels of government to proceed. Three levels of government have committed $1.5 billion for the initiative, including $300 million for four priority projects which are to begin immediately.

The waterfront property is mostly vacant and underused, with about 70 per cent of the land owned by the public.

“It is important for students to be interested in the quality of the city,” said Larry Bourne, professor at U of T’s department of geography. “This proposal offers a huge potential benefit in improving public space in the downtown core and enhancing the overall quality of life.”

The TWRC has no legislative power. It is unclear how much control it will be granted, due to the fragmented ownership of the area, Bourne said.

“Toronto’s waterfront is a disaster. There are few large waterfront cities in the world with such an underdeveloped, poorly designed public realm on the water edge,” said Larry Wayne Richards, dean of the faculty of architecture, landscape and design at U of T.

“The basic problem in Toronto is that the three levels of government cannot get their act together and agree on a comprehensive, workable vision. Halifax, Montreal, and Vancouver are rapidly developing their public waterfronts in very intelligent, attractive ways that put Toronto to shame.” Richards added.

U of T administration has looked over the plan with an eye to how it will change the neighbourhoods where students live.

“The waterfront development has no direct impact on the University of Toronto,” said Ron Venter, vice-president and provost of space and facility planning. “However, U of T is an integral part of the success of the city and as such, the waterfront development will providenew housing opportunities that could become future homes to employees and students.”

“The development will also serve to enhance the stature of the city and convert a relative waste, in close proximity to the city downtown and the university, into a very useful asset,” Venter added.

But Richards is concerned delays and political wrangling over the waterfront’s fate will cripple the momentum behind the project.“Frankly, I am losing optimism in terms of anything of any significance happening to our waterfront here. We have had a barrage of master plans, design changes, and committees examining the possibilities, but nothing much happens.

Just more weak decisions and, mostly, a lot of wheel-spinning,” Richards said.

Stein holds the system to account at campus lecture

When Janice Stein is asked what the next generation of leaders will be like, she answers that they will be “risk-taking innovators with a conscience.”

A professor in U of T’s political science department, Stein holds many impressive academic credentials: the Harrowston Chair of Conflict Management, a founding director of the Munk Centre for International Studies, and the coveted title of University Professor. The latter is the highest distinction awarded to faculty at U of T, and is currently bestowed upon only 30 people.

Stein’s lecture, entitled “Held to Account: Challenges of Governance from the Local to the Global,” was presented last Monday at the Isabel Bader Theatre as part of the University Professor Lecture Series, an initiative sponsored by the Global Knowledge Foundation. Michael Goldberg, a fourth-year student and president of the foundation, explained that the purpose of the series is to “provide students with an opportunity to hear the great minds of the university.”

In her lecture, Stein raised the question of accountability in our society. She also distinguished between accountable government and responsible government, arguing that the old language of responsibility is increasingly being replaced with the narrow language of accountability. Stein argued that the system is blamed now rather than individuals taking responsibility—thus easing the conscience of the individual.

Using the institution of the family as an example, Stein asked whether parents should be held accountable for their teenage son or daughter caught driving drunk. If not, are they responsible? We confuse the meanings of accountability and responsibility when they actually mean quite different things, she said.

Serious challenges to corporate accountability are also becoming a matter of public debate, as the Enron scandal illustrated. To whom are corporations accountable? Stein said there is no clear answer.

The language of accountability will not take us as far as we need to go, Stein suggested. Accounting problems conceived in narrow terms are devoid of the aspect of responsibility. We need to “broaden our language of accountability beyond what we can measure to include values we don’t measure,” she said We need to think about responsibility. Stein warned that if we fail to think about responsibility, we will become “societies of accountants.”

Pakistani OAC scholars lauded

Secondary school students from across the city gathered at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at U of T on Oct. 20 for the 24th Annual Quaid-e-Azam Awards Celebration. Named after the founder of Pakistan, the event recognizes the academic achievements of students of Pakistani heritage.

Some arrived decked in traditional Pakistani robes, while others sported jeans. The students came with their beaming parents, many with cameras slung around their necks. Many of these parents came to Canada as immigrants with hopes of a brighter future for their children. “It’s not about the trophy or the money,” explained Arshad Malik, whose daughter received an award in the Grade 10 category. “It’s about remembering your roots.” His daughter, Sophia, nodded in agreement. “To tell you the truth, I didn’t really want to come today…but it’s important to celebrate your achievements with your community.”

The awards were founded by the late S.M. Hasan Bukhari, a very active and respected member of the community, who was killed in a car accident in Toronto several months ago. This year’s program was organized by his wife, Dr. Nighat Hasan Bukhari, along with volunteers. Her daughter, Syedna Lizna Hasan Bukhari, proved a capable and charismatic hostess, her voice breaking for a fraction of a second as she introduced the photo tribute to her father.

“We have focussed on high-school students because this is a crucial time in which the essential study skills necessary to succeed in further education are developed,” said Ahmad Muinuddin, coordinator of the event. “Moreover, success in secondary education determines where one ends up afterwards.” Muinuddin said he intends to work with boards of education to promote the event and broaden eligibility requirements.

“We are a people of intellectual excellence,” said Haroon Siddiqui, editor emeritus at the Toronto Star and recepient of the Order of Canada, as he introduced the community service awards. “The first instruction the Prophet Muhammad received from God was to read.”

Siddiqui then went on to praise Canada as one of the most accommodating countries in the world and cautioned young adults never to use racism or discrimination as a crutch for their own shortcomings. “There is no dichotomy in being [Pakistani] Muslim and being Canadian,” he said.

Ghalib Iqbal, Consul General of Pakistan, echoed Siddiqui’s sentiments and encouraged this generation to work hand in hand with other Canadians toward the betterment of this country as a haven of peace.

The singing of the Canadian and Pakistani national anthems, as well as heartfelt readings of two traditional poems, stirred up feelings of nostalgia and pride. The serving of samosay (spicy patties), chai (tea), chips and pop also served as a subtle reminder of the peaceful collision of two cultures.

The ensuing ceremony resembled a commencement, with individuals called up and presented with certificates and trophies. Cameras clicked and proud parents clapped as their children shook hands with the guests of honour. Umar Jameel Khan, a first-year U of T student studying life sciences, earned top marks in the OAC category with a remarkable average of 96.5 per cent.

Raza Mohammad Naqvi nabbed second place with 95.8 per cent and Marium Ahmad claimed third place with an impressive 95.5 average. Asked to say a few words upon receiving the award, Khan advised students never to underrate the value of hard work. “It’s directly proportional to the success you will achieve,” he said. Quaid-e-Azam would have been proud.

University TTC discount could be derailed

As students desperately try to pay for tuition, books and living expenses, yet another cost might be added to the bill. Burdened with a $78-million deficit, the Toronto Transit Commission must raise bulk ticket and token prices by 10 cents and Metropasses by $5.25 a month on Jan. 1, meaning Metropasses will cost $98.75, instead of $93.50.

As a result, the Post-Secondary Students’ Metropass Task Force (PSMTF), a coalition of university and college student councils, has formed. The group is calling for the TTC to create a pass for university and college students in Toronto at the same subsidized fee high school students pay—$80.

Yesterday the TTC held a meeting to discuss its budget. Members of PSMTF and U of T’s Students’ Administrative Council (SAC) spoke to the commissioners about the reduced rate proposal.

“Raised fares work [hard against] students as they are in huge debt, and some days [students] can find themselves not eating,” said Mike Foderick, co-chair of the PSMTF.

But facing a severe budget shortfall, the TTC may not be able to implement the subsidized pass.

“It depends on how much is going to be saved. We definitely acknowledge the plan—but it still all depends,” said TTC chief general manager Rick Ducharme.

The PSMTF, U of T administration and the TTC hope to divide the cost of the pass—each would pay one-third of the cost. The TTC stands to lose about $400,000 if it implements the high school discount.

U of T administration said it’s already on board to fund the pass.

SAC said it also supports the plan. “As cash-strapped as the TTC is, support of the idea is necessary in reallocating funds to a post-secondary pass,” said SAC president Rocco Kusi-Achampong.

The proposal is the culmination of a 20-year quest for students. Opportunity arose because of the impending double cohort.

“It’s smart to invest in young people. University is when you need more money and now we have a unique opportunity due to the double-cohort. We need to size that opportunity, or we many never have the chance again,” said Toronto city councillor Olivia Chow.

The vote on the proposal was deferred to Nov. 20 after the commission decided that they were not going to approve a budget to fund the plan; much more research by the commissioners and councillors is needed.

The PSMTF isn’t worried about the delay in deliberation. “I am confident that we will get the money,” Foderick said.

Photograph by Simon Turnbull