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Scholars receive prestigious national chairs

Three Queen’s researchers receive Canada Research Chairs from Government of Canada.

An internationally-renowned chemist who has reshaped the field, Cathleen Crudden (Chemistry) has been named the new Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Metal Organic Chemistry.

Arriving at Queen’s in 2002 as a Queen’s National Scholar, Dr. Crudden’s research investigates the interaction of organic compounds with metals in the synthesis of novel materials and for the development of highly active catalysts. Her work has widespread applications in pharmaceuticals, manufacturing and agriculture – a testament to the depth and breadth of her research.

Dr. Cathleen Crudden (Chemistry) has been named the new Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Metal Organic Chemistry. She is joined by Dr. Peter Davies (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Protein Engineering) and Dr. Mohammad Zulkernine (Computing, Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Software Reliability and Security) who saw their Canada Research Chairs renewed.

Dr. Crudden’s work in the field of organic chemistry has been lauded as revolutionary and has allowed for the synthesis of compounds previously thought impossible. In recent years, she has published nearly 100 papers in high-impact journals, and her research has been cited nearly 3,000 times. Committed to training the next generation of leading multidisciplinary researchers, she has also supervised 20 doctoral candidates, 19 master’s candidates and 31 postdoctoral fellows – many of whom have taken positions in research and industry.

“This grant will let me spend more time on research while still having the pleasure of teaching Queen’s undergraduates,” says Dr. Crudden. “Our research program has also become very international lately and this research chair will allow me to set aside time to visit collaborators in the U.S., Finland, Scotland, Japan and the rest of Canada.” 

Two other Queen’s researchers have seen their Canada Research Chairs renewed. Peter Davies (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) has been renewed as the Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Protein Engineering, while Mohammad Zulkernine (Computing) has been renewed as the Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Software Reliability and Security.

“The CRC program allows Queen’s to attract top-calibre researchers, to provide them with the tools to succeed, and to make Canada an international leader in research and development,” says John Fisher, Interim Vice-Principal (Research).  “Queen’s researchers, including the three CRC recipients announced today, are at the forefront of their fields, conducting research that addresses some of the most challenging and complex problems in science, with potential to have a global impact.”

Dr. Davies’ research focuses on how a protein’s structure enables it to carry out its purpose and how the function of a protein can be changed by altering its structure. His research has numerous potential applications in healthcare and biotechnology.

“I am delighted to have the support of the Canada Research Chair program for another seven years,” Dr. Davies says. “This renewal is a vote of confidence for the research we have been doing in recent years, and it will allow my group to branch out into a new area. We have recently become involved in the study of adhesin proteins that bacteria use to form biofilms and infect various hosts. By studying and engineering these proteins we hope to interfere with their infectivity.”

As technology becomes a larger aspect of our day-to-day lives, security and reliability are of paramount concern. Dr. Zulkernine’s research is focused on addressing these issues at different stages of the development cycle, in order to better protect the next generation of mobile and cloud computing environments.

“This award actually belongs to my current and former graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who have worked hard with me to achieve my research goals,” says Dr. Zulkernine. “I am also thankful to my collaborators in the School of Computing, Queen's, and industry partners for their continuous support. This award will attract more high quality students and world renowned software security and reliability researchers to our Queen's Reliable Software Technology (QRST) research group.”

Queen’s will receive $200,000 per year over seven years for each Tier 1 Chair and $100,000 per year over five years for each Tier 2 Chair.

The Canada Research Chairs (CRC) program is at the centre of a national strategy to make Canada one of the world’s top countries in research and development since 2000. The CRC program invests approximately $265 million per year to attract and retain some of the world’s most accomplished and promising minds. Canadian universities both nominate Canada Research Chairs and administer their funds.

For more information on the Canada Research Chairs program, please visit the website.

Queen’s researchers lead the way in numerous fields, with notable advances made recently in particle astrophysics, cancer research, ecological history and environmental change, and clean energy technology. Through leading-edge research, Queen’s is addressing many of the world’s greatest challenges, and developing innovative ideas and technological advances brought about by discoveries in a variety of disciplines. Queen’s University is a member of the U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities.

A whirlwind tour of Washington D.C.

Art McDonald inducted into National Academy, gives speech at Canadian Embassy.

It was another full week for Queen’s professor emeritus and Nobel Laureate Art McDonald, as he visited Washington DC for the annual meeting of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and delivered a presentation on the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) experiment at the Canadian Embassy.

Dr. McDonald signs the Book of Membership at the National Academy of Sciences annual meeting on April 29. (Photo Credit: National Academy of Sciences).

On Saturday, April 29, Dr. McDonald was formally inducted as a foreign associate of the National Academy of Sciences at the Academy’s 154th annual meeting. Dr. McDonald was one of 20 fellow researchers from 14 countries to receive the honour. Of the 490 foreign associates, Dr. McDonald is one of only 20 living Canadian researchers with membership in the Academy – a group that includes Queen’s professor emeritus Raymond A. Price (Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering).

 “Having conducted my graduate work at Caltech, served as a professor at Princeton and collaborated extensively with U.S. scientists throughout my research career, I am honoured to have been elected to The National Academy of Sciences.” says Dr. McDonald. “At this important time in the dialogue on the importance of scientific research, I am proud to be granted membership in this highly respected group.”

Established under a congressional charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, the National Academy of Science recognizes achievement in science and provides science, technology, and health policy advice to the US federal government and other organizations. Election to the Academy is widely considered one of the greatest achievements in science, and approximately 200 of its members have received Nobel prizes.

“Induction into the National Academy is amongst the highest honours that one can receive, and is a testament to the significance of Dr. McDonald’s research,” says Queen’s Principal Daniel Woolf. “This award is further recognition of the groundbreaking research conducted at the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory by Dr. McDonald and his collaborators. On behalf of the entire university community, I would like to extend him my most sincere congratulations.”

From L-R: Nigel Smith, SNOLAB Director, Dr. Art McDonald, Science Minister Kirsty Duncan, Denis Stevens, Deputy Ambassador, John Fisher, Vice-Principal(Research).

Following the NAS annual meeting, on May 2, Dr. McDonald visited the Canadian Embassy in Washington. The theme of the evening focused on international research collaboration, particularly the US-Canada collaboration on the SNO experiment and at the SNOLAB underground laboratory. Dr. McDonald, along with Dr. John Fisher (Vice-Principal, Research) and Nigel Smith (SNOLAB) gave presentations on the past, present and future of international collaborations at SNOLAB and the value of international collaboration in leading-edge research. Science Minister Kirsty Duncan was also on hand to reiterate the government’s commitment to international collaboration in science.

Queen’s researchers and students are collaborating with colleagues around the world on innovative research projects that have the potential to bring about a wide variety of societal benefits. The university is committed to increasing global engagement by developing new international research collaborations and building sustained multinational partnerships. These activities foster an environment where resources and expertise can be shared and knowledge can be mobilized and translated.

From breaking ground to a groundbreaking building

As he provides an update on the Innovation and Wellness Centre, John Witjes can’t help but get excited about the finished product. 

“Seeing a state-of-the-art facility rise from a building built in the 1930s and the 1970s will be really impressive,” says the associate vice-principal (facilities). “Connecting the old and the new is something that Queen’s does well – just look at Goodes Hall and the Isabel – and the Innovation and Wellness Centre is going to be another great example of that.”

[Foundation rising at IWC]
After the demolition work, crews started forming and pouring columns, foundation, and shear walls for the new Innovation and Wellness Centre. (Submitted photo) 

Construction work began on the project in September 2016, thanks to investments from Queen’s, the federal and provincial governments, and numerous benefactors. When students return to campus in September 2018, they will have full access to expanded research and innovation spaces, a wellness centre, athletics and recreation facilities, the Queen’s University International Centre, and a new Exam Centre.

Within the next couple of weeks, the Queen’s community will notice a shift in the project. Demolition is nearly complete, and the new structure will start to rise out of the ground. Crews have poured footings and foundations and the structural steel will arrive on the construction site next week.

“It will be very exciting to watch this incredible building truly start to take shape,” says Benoit-Antoine Bacon, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic). “The steel structure will soon rise into view, and soon after we will start to fit in the state of the art research, innovation and student wellness spaces that make this project so important for the future of Queen’s.”

Mr. Witjes says crews have managed to stay on schedule while overcoming certain challenges that arise from retrofitting an existing building instead of constructing something brand new. 

“You will always find unexpected things that you have to react to or design around,” Mr. Witjes says. “It’s particularly challenging with this project because there are essentially two buildings: the 1930s building and the 1970s addition.”

The project team is also taking great care to preserve the heritage components of the original structure. The limestone façade facing Union Street will remain, and Queen’s will reinstate the original windows.

[Front facade of IWC]
The new Innovation and Wellness Centre will include the original limestone façade. Queen’s will also reinstate the original windows. (Submitted photo)

While the heritage aspects on the outside will remain, the inside will have a completely new look and feel. From Union Street, visitors will enter into an expansive space with skylights and glass on all sides. The Bews Gymnasium that used to be at the front of the building will be relocated underneath the Ross Gym.

“Whereas the old building was very compartmentalized and disconnected, the new building will be much more open. We are introducing intersecting spaces where people will come into contact with each other as they travel from one area of the building to the other,” Mr. Witjes says.

The building will be enclosed by the end of the fall, with crews continuing to work inside through the winter. Mr. Witjes says he appreciates the Queen’s community’s co-operation and understanding as the university constructs a major capital project in the heart of campus.

“We realize it is disruptive, but I think the facility is going to be amazing and people are going to be impressed by the end result,” he says. “With so many key components of the Queen’s student learning experience coming together in this space, it’s nice to see this happening to a building that is in the centre of campus. It’s going to be really exciting.”

Follow the construction live on this webcam

[Innovation and Wellness Centre]
An architectural rendering of the Innovation and Wellness Centre, showing the blend of the old building and the new structure. The centre will include expanded research and innovation spaces, a wellness centre, athletics and recreation facilities, the Queen’s University International Centre, and a new Exam Centre.

 

Highlighting international collaboration

Dr. Art McDonald presents on SNO research, Canada-US collaboration at the Canadian Embassy in Washington D.C..

  • Dr. McDonald meets with David MacNaughton, Canada's Ambassador to the United States. (Photo Credit: Embassy of Canada)
    Dr. McDonald meets with David MacNaughton, Canada's Ambassador to the United States. (Photo Credit: Embassy of Canada)
  • Dr. McDonald discusses the importance of the Canada-US relationship and international scientific collaboration. (Photo Credit: Embassy of Canada)
    Dr. McDonald discusses the importance of the Canada-US relationship and international scientific collaboration. (Photo Credit: Embassy of Canada)
  • Dr. McDonald delivers his presentation on the SNO collaboration and the role of international collaboration in bringing the project to fruition. (Photo Credit: Embassy of Canada)
    Dr. McDonald delivers his presentation on the SNO collaboration and the role of international collaboration in bringing the project to fruition. (Photo Credit: Embassy of Canada)
  • Dr. McDonald and John Fisher (Interim Vice-Principal, Research) meet with Science Minister Kirsty Duncan and members of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology.
    Dr. McDonald and John Fisher (Interim Vice-Principal, Research) meet with Science Minister Kirsty Duncan and members of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology.

On Tuesday, May 2, Queen's professor emeritus Art McDonald (Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy) visited the Canadian Embassy in Washington D.C.. The theme of the evening focused on international research collaboration, particularly the US-Canada collaboration on the SNO experiment and at the SNOLAB underground laboratory.

Dr. McDonald, along with Dr. John Fisher (Vice-Principal, Research) and Nigel Smith (SNOLAB) gave presentations on the past, present and future of international collaborations at SNOLAB and the value of international collaboration in leading-edge research. Also in attendance was Science Minister Kirsty Duncan, who reiterated the government’s commitment to international collaboration in science, and discussed the recently-completed Science Review.

Dr. McDonald was in Washington to attend the 154th annual National Academy of Sciences annual meeting, where he was formally inducted as a foreign associate of the Academy.

Professors honoured for mentoring, enhancing diversity work

[Beverley Mullings and Leela Viswanathan]
Beverley Mullings and Leela Viswanathan were both recently recognized by the American Association of Geographers. Dr. Mullings received the Susan Hardwick Excellence in Mentoring Award and Dr. Viswanathan received the Enhancing Diversity Award. (University Communications)

Leela Viswanathan and Beverley Mullings both credit their upbringing and their experiences as visible minorities with their drive to become outstanding professors determined to make the world a better place.

“When I teach I make it a point that students hear multiple voices through readings, guests, and my own presence. As a representative of my discipline [planning] I am determined to build diversity into the teaching,” says Dr. Viswanathan, who, along with Dr. Mullings, was recently recognized by the American Association of Geographers.

The pair are both professors in the Queen’s Department of Geography and Planning. Dr. Viswanathan received the association’s Enhancing Diversity Award for her pioneering efforts toward encouraging a more diverse discipline over the course of several years, while Dr. Mullings received the Susan Hardwick Excellence in Mentoring Award for demonstrating extraordinary leadership in guiding the academic growth of her students and junior colleagues.

Dr. Viswanathan’s career and her commitment to ethnic diversity was informed by her early experiences as a girl of South Asian descent growing up in Montreal. She still holds up a picture to her undergraduate students of her 5-year-old-self. “I am the only ‘brown’ little girl in the picture,” she says. Her youthful experience has profoundly shaped her attitude and her desire to understand and educate people about ethnic diversity and all the complexities that comes with that.

“I try to understand places from the standpoint of people who live there, as opposed to only a theoretical or academic position,” she says.

With a research focus on Indigenous decolonization efforts of urban First Nations communities and promoting activism needed to support these aims, Dr. Viswanathan is forging new directions in the planning profession. For example, she brought together a team of colleagues, graduate students, and partner members of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation and Walpole Island First Nation to advocate for change to the 2014 Ontario Provincial Policy Statement (PPS).  “This was a successful effort that led to reinforcing the rights of Aboriginal people to be included at all stages of the planning process under section 35 of Canada’s Constitution,” she explains.

Dr. Viswanathan brings an intense level of dedication to her students, and beyond in the wider community. She is a stalwart supporter and advocate for accessibility rights on campus and has supported students in need of an advocate. She is also co-editor with Scott Morgensen, Associate Professor (Gender Studies, Cultural Studies), of the Journal of Critical Race Inquiry, a journal that advances Canadian and international scholarship on race and racialization.

Belonging, mental health, and mentoring

As a young girl growing up in the Caribbean, Dr. Mullings enjoyed a sense of belonging within her community. Unfortunately, she lost that sense when she moved to the U.K.

“It was a profoundly alienating experience. There were no people of colour. I had no role models,” she says.

“A lot of your success in the academy is how you work your way through. How to navigate a world that was not built for women and minorities.”
                                                                                                                     – Beverley Mullings

“I got a student job at a place that focuses on issues of race and had a manager who really made me feel part of a community. That’s where I learned that I have to reach out and help others.”

While a young academic in Syracuse, she was mentored by mid-career feminists who encouraged her. “I realized I must do the same, to always inquire and help students and junior academics about their well-being. My job is to teach them the lay of the land in the world of academics.”

Dr. Mullings is a champion for mental health issues, always reaching out to her colleagues and students in a compassionate way. At recent forums, she has been shedding light on the issue of mental illness and lack of care that often goes unremarked and unreported in the academy. A colleague who nominated her for the recent award noted that Dr. Mullings’ activism serves as a testament to her commitment to mentoring and support in the academy, where the stresses of work can manifest in serious mental and physical illnesses.

In her various roles, as teacher, researcher, advocate for her geography profession, and community activist, Dr. Mullings is a trailblazer, building networks of solidarity by focusing on the voices of students and faculty who might find themselves on the outside looking in, because of their sexuality, race, or social status.

“A lot of your success in the academy is how you work your way through. How to navigate a world that was not built for women and minorities,” she says

At Queen’s, both Dr. Viswanathan and Dr. Mullings now find themselves in a position of being the older and wiser members of the faculty. With that distinction comes a certain amount of confidence and determination to continue on their journeys to make the world a better place.

“It’s easy to lose hope, to feel disillusioned,” says Dr. Viswanathan. “But we cannot afford not to be hopeful. Diversity will continue and policies and practices need to change. Despite the disillusionment, we must always find our way back to hope, together.”

Partnership boosts undergraduate research

A partnership between the Arts and Science Undergraduate Society (ASUS) and the Faculty of Arts and Science is providing the financial support to promote and expand undergraduate research.

The partnership has resulted in the creation of the Arts and Science Undergraduate Research Fund (ASURF) with the aim of fostering a community of undergraduate scholars and promoting greater investment towards undergraduate research.

[ASURF]
The Arts and Science Undergraduate Society and Faculty of Arts and Science are partnering to provide financial support to promote and expand undergraduate research. (SUpplied Photo)

Each year for the next three years ASUS will contribute approximately $30,000 toward the fund through an opt-out student fee of $3.75, while the faculty will contribute $10,000 annually.

Undergraduate research is important because it provides an opportunity to expand the depth and breadth of the student experience, explains ASUS President Darrean Baga, adding that the fund will help improve the process for students and strengthen another pillar of the undergraduate experience.

“Undergraduate research allows students to apply the theories and concepts they have learned in the classroom in the real world, where the processes and results can be messy, unexpected, and complicated. As such, undergraduate research provides students with tangible skills outside of the classroom while at the same time part of the experiential learning process,” he says. “Moreover, undergraduate research is a great gateway for students to think about graduate school and how to further their education.”

Queen’s offers opportunities for undergraduate research through such programs as the Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellowships (USSRF) and the new fund will help build upon the increasing interest.

“The momentum that is building for undergraduate research is amazing,” Vicki Remenda, Associate Dean (Academic). “We are happy to have collaborated with ASUS to begin to highlight the research that is going on at the undergraduate level here at Queen’s.”

The Faculty of Arts and Science and ASUS have also partnered to launch the Undergraduate Research Hub, a website featuring the work of undergraduate researchers, where it can be viewed by peers, potential supervisors, and graduate school admissions committees.

“The undergraduate research website is a very valuable tool for professors in the Faculty of Arts and Science to aid in graduate student recruitment,” says Sharon Regan, Acting Associate Dean (Graduate Students and Research). “The new features highlighting undergraduate researchers will only make this a more powerful and useful outlet for our faculty and students.”

Anyone interested in having their research, or that of their student, included in the Undergraduate Research Hub can contact ASUS.

Moving //Forward

  • Jessica Janes discusses her artwork during a feedback session as part of //Forward: BFA Grad Exhibition at Ontario Hall on Tuesday
    Jessica Janes discusses her artwork during a feedback session as part of //Forward: BFA Grad Exhibition at Ontario Hall on Tuesday
  • Viewers are invited to have a seat and enjoy the immersive experience of Jess Wheelock's installation at Ontario Hall.
    Viewers are invited to have a seat and enjoy the immersive experience of Jess Wheelock's installation at Ontario Hall.
  • Viewers take in the paintings by Anna Bullock at //Forward: BFA Grad Exhibition at Ontario Hall on Tuesday.
    Viewers take in the paintings by Anna Bullock at //Forward: BFA Grad Exhibition at Ontario Hall on Tuesday.
  • 'Runner' by Jess Peterson is a massive oil-on-panel painting that takes up half of one room at Ontario Hall.
    'Runner' by Jess Peterson is a massive oil-on-panel painting that takes up half of one room at Ontario Hall.
  • Nicole Emond's prints are displayed on the fourth floor of Ontario Hall.
    Nicole Emond's prints are displayed on the fourth floor of Ontario Hall.

Ontario Hall has been transformed into an art gallery this week as the graduating class for the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) hosts its final exhibition.

//Forward: BFA Grad Exhibition is the culmination of the four-year program and students have been creating work all year for the event.

The exhibition is open for public viewing through to Saturday from 9 am to 5pm, with the exception of Friday when the exhibition opens at noon. The closing reception will be held Saturday from 7-10 pm.

There is a wide variety of works throughout the building including sculpture, painting and printmaking and multimedia installations.

More images of the artwork is available at the exhibition website.

Creating diverse, modern learning spaces

Renovations to develop diverse and modern learning spaces will soon begin in Mackintosh-Corry Hall.

The revitalization of the southern wing of the building – home to the Department of Geography and Planning – marks the second year of Queen’s multi-year commitment to improving teaching and learning environments on campus. The university is investing $1 million per year for three years to upgrade centrally-booked classrooms and other learning spaces.

[Mackintosh-Corry Hall - south wing]
The south wing of Mackintosh-Corry Hall will undergo renovations, including the development of two active learning classrooms and a renewed student street. (University Communications)

A focus of the Mackintosh-Corry Hall project is to provide a more diverse range of learning opportunities by creating two new active learning classrooms, renewing other classrooms, as well as enlarging the hallways and creating informal learning spaces, says Peter Wolf, Associate Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning).

“We’re basically renovating part of the wing with a recognition that there really aren’t many informal learning spaces in this building, which is a major classroom complex where these types of spaces really are needed,” he says. “We also need more flexible and active learning classrooms and we are doing this by consolidating classrooms that were less used and configured in traditional ways and reworking them to provide more active learning.”

The two new 49-seat active learning classrooms will be constructed in Rooms D201 and D205. A temporary partition between the rooms can be removed to create a 98-seat classroom as well, Mr. Wolf explains. Other classrooms will undergo more minor renovations while the hallways will be widened and informal study areas will be created.

The focus of the multi-year commitment, Mr. Wolf says, is on renewing large classrooms and increasing the proportion of active learning and flexible classrooms.

“The commitment has really given us a tremendous start for what we need to do for our classrooms, to make sure that the classrooms enable the diversity of pedagogies that are being used and are in demand across all disciplines,” he says “We will continue to need lecture spaces and we also need other kinds of spaces. The goal of this project is to renew the classroom database while at the same time making sure that the classroom spaces and technologies provide the diverse contexts that our students need to learn the diverse things they are learning.”

Another important aspect of the overall project is to make learning spaces across campus more accessible.

“A key part of a good learning environment is a fully accessible learning environment,” Mr. Wolf points out. “That includes the technology, layout, stairs and ramps and lighting and good air.”

In the initiative’s first year, major renovations were conducted at Duncan McArthur Hall, including the main auditorium where new lighting, seating and presentation technologies were introduced.

Other classroom projects have taken place in Walter Light Hall, Theological Hall, Kingston Hall and Ellis Hall, where the first three active learning classrooms were introduced in 2014.

More information about active learning classrooms at Queen’s is available online

A dialogue on Indigenous law, song and opera

Queen’s professor leads conversation on the mis-use of Indigenous songs in contemporary classical music.

If the production of contemporary Canadian opera is a rare occurrence, it is even rarer that such work leads to dialogue about the relationship between Indigenous law and song.

Dylan Robinson (Languages, Literatures and Cultures, cross appointed in six departments/programs including Music & Drama and Cultural Studies) played a leading role in a dialogue on the misuse of Indigenous songs in contemporary performances. The dialogue was spurred by the remounting of the opera Louis Riel, which features a Nisga'a mouring song performed in a manner that conflicts with its significance to Nisga'a culture and law.

For Queen’s professor Dylan Robinson (Languages, Literatures and Cultures), the Canadian Opera Company’s remounting of the opera Louis Riel, based on the life of the Métis political leader, was an opportunity not only to address issues of song appropriation, but also the ways in which music organizations across the country might play a role in redressing the history of Canada’s Indigenous peoples.

“This dialogue is part of a longer conversation that has been going on for quite a number of years between myself and a number of Indigenous colleagues regarding the many uses of our songs within musical compositions,” says Dr. Robinson, a scholar of Stó:lō descent who holds the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts. “I felt it was important that Indigenous musicians, performers, and knowledge-keepers come together to share our views with music organizations on the functions that Indigenous song serves as law, history and medicine. Our songs are much more than simply songs.”

The day before the Louis Riel’s opening, Dr. Robinson led a dialogue to discuss First Nations song protocol and the mis-use of Indigenous songs in Canadian compositions. Represented in the dialogue were Nisga’a and Métis performers and artists, representatives of the Canadian Opera Company, National Arts Centre, Canadian Music Centre, and the executors and advisors to the estates of the composer and librettist, and members of Louis Riel’s cast and stage director.

Spurring the dialogue was the opera’s use of a Nisga’a mourning song, the “Song of Skateen,” in an aria sung in Cree by the character Marguerite Riel. Under Nisga’a tradition and law, the song is only to be sung when a community member or chief passes away, or with the appropriate permission of the family who holds the hereditary rights to sing it. Dr. Robinson explains that, in the context of the performance, the song is being utilized in a way that conflicts with its significance for Nisga’a peoples.

“I believe our ancestors shared these songs for safe keeping for our future generations,” explains Dr. Robinson. “Instead, once the songs were recorded, they were then simply ‘filed away’ in museum collections, in the words of the ethnographer Marius Barbeau who recorded “Song of Skateen”. This is where thousands of Indigenous songs remain, often disconnected from Indigenous communities to whom they belong. In some cases, particular songs were also transcribed into western music notation. This made it very easy for contemporary Canadian composers to use them without the knowledge of the families and individuals who still hold the hereditary rights to their use.”

The community consultation, led by Dr. Robinson on April 19, was one of a number of initiatives the Canadian Opera Company committed to in order to address the issue. Another was to host two presentations by the Kwhlii Gibaygum Nisga’a Traditional Dancers led by Wal'aks Keane Tait and the Git Hayetsk Dancers led by G̱oothl Ts'imilx Mike Dangeli and Sm Łoodm ’Nüüsm- Mique'l Dangeli  who explained the true history of the song to the opera’s audience.

Dr. Robinson says a second dialogue is planned in conjunction with the opera’s Ottawa performance, scheduled for June 15 and 17. He says that, while this is the first step in a much larger conversation on how music organizations might address the various issues, the response by the Canadian Opera Company’s director Alexander Neef and Heather Moore of the National Arts Centre’s upcoming Canada Scene gives him reason to be optimistic.

“I feel hopeful, and that’s kind of a new thing for me to say,” he explains. “I have had similar conversations over the years with non-Indigenous composers and music organizations that have fallen on deaf ears. This time, however, the Canadian Opera Company and National Arts Centre moved with agility to address the issue as the serious infraction of Nisga’a law that it is. That has not happened before, and so even though we’re at the beginning, I think that there is some institutional will to bring about meaningful action.”

Faculty of Arts and Science introduces two new plans

[Politics-Philosophy-Economics Specialization]
The Faculty of Arts and Science is introducing two new plans for the 2017-18 academic year: a Politics-Philosophy-Economics Specialization and a major in Languages, Literatures and Cultures.

Following an already busy year filled with launching new initiatives, an additional two new plans are being introduced by the Faculty of Arts and Science for the 2017-18 academic year, just in time for plan selection for first-year students. The two new plans are a Politics-Philosophy-Economics Specialization and a major in Languages, Literatures and Cultures.

Politics- Philosophy-Economics Specialization
By combining the studies of economics, philosophy and politics, students will be prepared for graduate studies in their area of specialization, law, public service, international development, policy design and analysis, or any career path that calls for strong analytical and communication skills. The plan will approach contemporary social issues and how society responds to these issues by bringing complementary intellectual skills together in analytical and critical ways. The plan is structured as an augmented medial, without sacrificing advanced skills areas of specialization. With more than 50 courses to choose from, students will have flexibility to create a degree path that works for them, with a focus that will stand out in the marketplace.

“The three departments involved are very excited about the students who will be attracted to the new PPE plan,” says Ian Keay, Undergraduate Chair, Department of Economics. “The plan’s focus on analytical rigor, critical thinking and communication, applied to a wide range of social issues, will draw intellectually curious students with a broad set of complementary interests and skills.”

To learn more visit the PPE webpage.

Major in Languages, Literatures and Cultures
A new major for the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures (LLCU), the plan builds upon the breadth of the unit which covers Arabic, Chinese, German, Hebrew, Inuktitut, Italian,

Japanese, Mohawk, Portuguese and Spanish languages and cultures, as well as Linguistics and general/minor plans in Indigenous Studies and World Language Studies. The main aim of the new major is to develop students’ intercultural competency, providing them with an understanding and awareness of cultural diversity grounded in second language acquisition. Its strong interdisciplinary and intercultural approach, together with an international perspective and collaboration with the Queen’s University International Centre (students will concurrently earn an Intercultural Competence Certificate) means that it addresses the issues of today’s world in a unique way. The plan’s goal is to provide students with a set of diverse and flexible core competencies, supporting a solid and practical foundation for a remarkably wide range of post-undergraduate careers, graduate degree options, and professional programs.

“In addition to learning at least two languages, students will take courses from a variety of multi-, cross-, and inter-disciplinary topics,” says Donato Santeramo, Head of the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures.  “These will help students develop an understanding of literary and cultural traditions, and examine the influences of key social, historical, political and artistic developments within varied cultural traditions. The plan is designed to be an excellent platform for study abroad opportunities and for students to gain additional experiential learning.”

To learn more visit the LLCU webpage.

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