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Centre for Aboriginal Initiatives to be renamed Centre for Indigenous Studies

Change to take effect in July pending Governing Council approval

Centre for Aboriginal Initiatives to be renamed Centre for Indigenous Studies

In keeping with the growing trend away from using the word ‘aboriginal,’ the Centre for Aboriginal Initiatives within the Faculty of Arts & Science will be renamed the Centre for Indigenous Studies, after a unanimous agreement in favour of the name change from faculty, staff, and students.

The centre currently offers undergraduate specialist, major, and minor programs in Aboriginal Studies. In July, these programs will be called ‘Indigenous Studies’ pending approval by the Governing Council on June 23.

Other universities that have made the switch to Indigenous Studies from Aboriginal Studies or ‘Native Studies’ include Trent University, McMaster University, Queen’s University, University of Saskatchewan, University of British Columbia, University of Victoria, and McGill University.

Similarly, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau renamed the federal ‘Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development’ to the ‘Ministry of Indigenous and Northern Affairs’ last November. In addition, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced in May that the provincial ‘Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs’ will be renamed the ‘Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation’.

In recent years, numerous Indigenous groups, including the Anishinabek of Ontario and the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, have opposed the term aboriginal. According to the word’s detractors, it can be interpreted to mean ‘not original’, with the Latin prefix ‘ab-’ meaning ‘not.’

Talks with impact

The Canadian Association for Neuroscience held Public Lectures at the 10th Annual Canadian Neuroscience Meeting

Talks with impact

[dropcap]R[/dropcap]owan Stringer, a high school student from Ottawa, got her first concussion on a Friday in 2013. On the following Monday, she got her second concussion, and on the Wednesday, her third. On the following Sunday, these head injuries ended the life of the 17-year-old rugby player.

Dr. Charles Tator shared Rowan’s story with the audience members of the 2016 Canadian Association for Neuroscience (CAN) Public Lectures. As the first of several events, these lectures heralded the 10th Annual Canadian Neuroscience Meeting, a symposium showcasing the top Canadian research in this field.

Leading neuroscientists Dr. Margot Taylor, Director of Functional Neuroimaging and Diagnostic Imaging at The Hospital for Sick Children, and Dr. Charles Tator, a neurosurgeon at Toronto Western Hospital, were invited to the Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning to speak about their work with innate and acquired brain injury, respectively.

Dr. Taylor introduced the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and magnetoencephalography (MEG) brain imaging techniques currently being used in her studies. Her work centres on developmental differences in the pediatric population, comparing typically developing (TD) children with children born preterm or who have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

“MEG and fMRI are complementary in understanding the neural mechanism of cognitive function,” explained Dr. Taylor. “The main advantage of MEG is that it gives timing information,” whereas fMRI allows the researcher to “determine what brain regions are involved with cognitive ability.” Using these neuroimaging methods, she found that atypical working memory brain processes are found in the ASD group.

In addition to investigating working memory, a component of short-term memory that allows information storage during mental activity, Dr. Taylor explored a concept called theory of mind (ToM) in children with ASD. ToM is the ability to understand that other people have different perspectives from oneself. “People have to inhibit their own belief to understand what others believe,” said Dr. Taylor. “It is considered a key deficit in autism and is called ‘mind-blindness.’”

ASD is an innate disorder of brain development. On the flip side of the coin, Dr. Tator spoke about his research, activism, and experience with acquired brain injuries as a neurosurgeon.

“A concussion is a brain injury. In fact, it is the most common brain injury,” said Dr. Tator. Although the exact mechanism is unknown, experts believe that rotational head acceleration — rather than the tearing or bruising of the brain — causes concussions. The brain moves within the skull. “That’s why helmets don’t work. Helmets do prevent other types of brain injury but they don’t prevent concussions.”

Another concern with concussions is in its diagnosis. “We do not have a good biomarker,” said Dr. Tator. Concussions today are still diagnosed clinically, meaning they are dependent on the amalgamation of a clinician’s judgement with a patient’s self-reported symptoms. This requires the patient to be compliant and truthful. “Imagine having a major disorder that can only be diagnosed with autopsy,” Dr. Tator posited. A purposeful effort to hide the injury can fool the examiner. “We still witness this regularly in professional sports,” said Dr. Tator, recalling hockey player Sidney Crosby’s melee with concussions.

Beyond the NHL, this issue has blighted many lives, including Rowan Stringer’s. She lost her life after ignoring several symptoms of concussion. “This case alone indicates that concussion is a public health concern,” said Dr. Tator. “We are playing catch-up in this field. It’s been a completely neglected field for a long time, but not anymore.”

As a prelude to the 10th Annual Canadian Neuroscience Meeting, these lectures sparked discussion of current research by the neuroscience community.

Two sides of Canadian cinema

The gap between French and English film is growing larger

Two sides of Canadian cinema

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]fter observing the recent success of Xavier Dolan’s It’s Only the End of the World, it seems that Canada’s independent film industry is thriving. Filmmakers like Dolan, Denise Villeneuve, David Cronenberg, and Atom Egoyan give the Canadian film industry a refined sensibility that often results in international success, recognition, and critical praise. Yet these canonical filmmakers comprise just a small part of the industry. It’s an industry that is divided and, for the most part, unsupported by a large majority of Canadians. 

The Québécois effect

In recent years, there has stood a stark divide between the Québécois film industry and the rest of Canada, which is largely due to the cultural barrier between provincial borders. Since Dolan’s success with I Killed My Mother in 2009, he has consistently produced films that garner international acclaim. In 2014, he won the jury prize at the Cannes Film Festival for Mommy, which later became the highest grossing Québécois film that year. Outside of Québec, its release was limited to Toronto and Ottawa.

[pullquote-default]There has stood a stark divide between the Québécois film industry and the rest of Canada, which is largely due to the cultural barrier between provincial borders.[/pullquote-default]

Similarly, Atom Egoyan’s 2014 feature The Captive scored high at the box offices throughout Canada. It quickly became clear that its financial success was driven by support of the large Québécois viewership.

The Québécois are more keen to offer support of local filmmakers. The highest grossing film in Canadian history is Erik Canuel’s Bon Cop, Bad Cop — it made over $11 million dollars in 2006, with almost $10 million resulting from the success of the French-Canadian version in Québec. Outside of Québec, it seems like the rest of Canada is doing little to support local filmmakers, whose artistry is often overshadowed by high budget Hollywood films.

Show me the money

It’s not hard to imagine why Québécois are committed to supporting Quebec artists. Quebec is notorious for taking careful consideration when it comes to preserving their culture, and part of the success of Québécois film lies in the prominent featuring of French-Canadian actors. Since each component of the film is produced largely in Quebec, this works to maintain a sense of solidarity and a shared cultural identity.

This rationale does not extend to English-Canadian films, as they seem to continuously suffer box office failures. One explanation could be the strong professional ties to the American film industry. English-speaking Canada shares many similarities to the US, which results in an assimilation of cultural identity and the sharing of talent with Hollywood.

Villeneuve’s Prisoners and Enemy and Jean Marc Vallee’s Dallas Buyers Club both Canadian directors have received international and North American critical acclaim and box office success. Dolan’s first English film, The Death and Life of John F. Donavan, is being produced south of the border and will feature an all-star cast of Jessica Chastain, Natalie Portman, and Kit Harrington. Canada’s film industry remains polarized and is being pulled towards where the money is: Hollywood.

Have some faith

[pullquote-features]Right now, Canada’s method of funding independent films lacks in developing talent. There are only two government bodies that allocate funding for films: Telefilm and National Film Board.[/pullquote-features]

A solution would be for English-Canadians to more actively support its own film industry. Movie theatres across Canada would benefit from designating screens exclusively for Canadian films. Right now, Canada’s method of funding independent films lacks in developing talent. There are only two government bodies that allocate funding for films: Telefilm and National Film Board.

In a recent interview, Matt Johnson, writer and director of films such as The Dirties and Operation Avalanche, mentioned that his “big issue is that every single year 75 per cent of Telefilm’s funding goes to more or less the same kind of cabal of old-school Canadian filmmakers.” This restriction means strict limitations are placed on talent development and diversification of content.

Get your head out of the snow

Canadian films serve as vehicles for the Canadian voice and identity. Over the past couple of years, many films at the Toronto International Film Festival were seen as homogenous and perpetuating the Canadian stereotype.

“You can make films in this country that are not Canadian in the stigma-inducing maple syrup Canadiana kind of bullshit way. But that you can actually make things with a strong voice that can go out, that can play anywhere in the world and stand up because they’re really strong and powerful stories, that happen to be Canadian,” said Andrew Cevedino, director of Sleeping Giant.

The low figures these films generate may be an indicator that the stereotype-dependent formula isn’t working. Dramatic, quirky, coming-of-age, or hockey — none of these genres do justice to the complexity of the Canadian identity.

For the English-Canadian film industry, change is necessary in all aspects of production,  from creation to consumption. There needs to be more funding for a wider variety of films and support from theatres and audiences is key. Canadians are much more than a stereotype, and it’s time for the film industry to reflect this in both English and French Canada.

George Brown pays out $2.75 million settlement to former students

College allegedly misled students over program credentials

George Brown pays out $2.75 million settlement to former students

A class action lawsuit over George Brown College’s 2007 International Business Program description has reached a settlement, after Ontario Superior Court Judge Edward Belobaba ruled in the favour of 108 George Brown students in 2012.

The international students will receive up to $22,484, the domestic students will receive up to $16,427 each, and the three leaders of the class action suit were allotted an additional $10,000 for their time. The total amounts to $2.75 million, which Judge Belobaba believed to be “generous and fair.”

The students had accused the school of using misleading advertising materials, which promised three industry credentials in international trade, customs services, and international freight forwarding. The certificate only prepared students to take the tests for these accreditations,which had to be done at an additional cost.

The college has acknowledged that their material could be misinterpreted and the need to be careful and critical when writing consumer marketing promises.

With files from The Toronto Star.

Meet Ulrich Krull, newly-appointed UTM interim Vice-President and Principal

Krull talks teamwork, challenges, goals

Meet Ulrich Krull, newly-appointed UTM interim Vice-President and Principal

Ulrich Krull has been appointed as interim Vice-President and Principal of UTM. Krull’s term will be effective September 1, 2016 to August 31, 2017, or until a permanent Vice-President and Principal is found.

Krull will be replacing Deep Saini, who will be serving as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Canberra in Australia. Krull was previously appointed as acting Vice-President and Principal in July 2015, while Saini was on a six-month sabbatical.  

Krull has had an extensive history at the university, having completed his BSc, MSc, and PhD at U of T. He then went on to become a professor of Analytical Chemistry, with a specific interest in molecular diagnostics technology.  

Krull has held numerous administrative positions at UTM over the years, including: Associate Dean of Sciences; Vice-Dean, Graduate; Vice-Principal, Research; and Vice-Principal, Special Initiatives. In addition, Professor Krull has held various positions in Mississauga, assisted with four different start-up companies, and won numerous awards throughout his professional career.  

UTM's new vice-president. YASSINE ELBARADIE/THE VARSITY

UTM’s new vice-president. YASSINE ELBARADIE/THE VARSITY

Role and approach

When asked about his role at UTM, Krull stressed the importance of working with the UTM team rather than simply leading it.

“They’ve selected me in this particular case to be the spokesperson. I need to take the time and effort to make sure I represent the ‘we’ not the ‘I’. And that’s the style that you’re going to see from me, as much as I can manifest that. Keep the ego suppressed and keep the goals of what the community is after — that comes first and foremost,” Krull said.  

He described his position within UTM as both exciting and challenging: “I think you get a sense of both trepidation, in which a lot of things need to be done, and exhilaration. And yeah, it’s an exciting time to be here.”

Although he does not often speak of it, Krull is also a local Judo instructor. He believes teamwork, focus, and tackling large tasks are some skills that he has grasped from the sport, which has also contributed to his approach to the new position.   

Resolving obstacles

Krull described multiple challenges he hopes to tackle throughout his term, including the growth of the Mississauga campus.

“We’ve grown very quickly over the past 10 years, 12 years — and to the point that we need to balance our faculty to student ratio. We can’t hire fast enough to be able to maintain the kind of ratio we want; we can’t build fast enough to be able to satisfy the demands for space,” Krull said.  

During this transitional period, Krull wants to ensure that growth occurs for the betterment of the UTM community, as opposed to “just growing for the sake of growing.”

He continued, “I keep telling people that ‘Yes, that’s all fine and well, but it’s not the buildings — it’s the people in the buildings!’”

Krull also wants to maintain and grow UTM’s close relationship with the City of Mississauga and the Regional Municipality of Peel. He commented, “The City of Mississauga wants to be recognized as a place that is both livable, but also where innovation takes place.”

UTM’s many sector-specific programs are an illustration of Mississauga and the university’s close partnership. Krull explained that the city “put in $10 million over 10 years to actually build the physical infrastructure and make sure this runs. And what we’re doing is we’re creating programming that actually makes sense for the city.”    

Future goals

Krull outlined many long-term and short-term goals, from “ensuring inclusivity of aspirations for all disciplines in UTM’s family” to “addressing barriers to space in the laboratory sciences.”

Krul’s primary aspiration is to ensure UTM’s competitiveness in the Greater Toronto Area, despite the challenge of being situated near other institutions. “Out here in the west end, you have to realize that we are competing also with York because York reaches well into Brampton, which is one of our areas of view,” he said. “But you have to recognize that we also have Guelph, and Waterloo, and McMaster.”  

“I may have started at the St. George campus, but I really came out here in my early years and I grew up on this campus as a faculty member for about 30 years… so I really consider this to be my home,” Krull said.