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A spotlight on secrets

Secret Trial 5 is being shown at The Screening Room this Sunday and Queen’s University professor Sharry Aiken has a significant role in the film, discussing the human impact of the war on terror. The film examines the Canadian government’s use of security certificates, an immigration tool that allows the government to deport non-citizens it deems a threat to national security.

Following the 4 pm showing Sunday, March 15 at The Screening Room, Professor Aiken will take part in a question and answer period.

“The film had already been conceived and the filmmakers approached me about appearing in it based on my research and advocacy,” says Professor Aiken. “I’ve been involved in efforts to challenge the use of security certificates since the 1990s."

Security certificates have been part of Canada’s immigration legislation for decades; over time, they have morphed into an anti-terrorism tool. Evidence against detainees is never fully revealed and parts of the hearings are held in secret.

Professor Aiken says the film shines a true light on these immigration procedures. “The Canadian public doesn’t know about these measures that are extremely draconian. People can expect to see a gripping film and leave the theatre angry and shocked. The film makes this situation very real.”

Secret Trial 5 examines the lives of five men who were arrested under the security certificate provision and detained for nearly 30 years combined. The filmmakers also speak with the men's family members, friends and the wider community about the impact of their arrests.

The film is also timely as the federal government debates amendments to Bill C-51, an anti-terrorism bill that Professor Aiken says could make security certificate procedures even more problematic. “The biggest obstruction to justice is the secret evidence withheld from individuals subject to immigration security procedures. Bill C-51 proposes to make withholding of evidence even easier and the process even more unbalanced,” she says.

The showing at The Screening Room is set for Sunday at both 4 and 7 pm. Along with Professor Aiken, the filmmakers will be on hand to answer questions after the screening.

Disraeli Project focus of conference presentation at Oxford

The work of Queen’s University’s Disraeli Project will be the focus of a presentation at a special one-day symposium about the former British prime minister to be held at Oxford University.

[Michel Pharand]
Michel W. Pharand, director of the Disraeli Project, seen here in front of Benjamin Disraeli's writing desk at Hughenden Manor, will make a presentation at an upcoming conference on the former British prime minister at Oxford University. (Submitted photo)

Michel W. Pharand, the director of the Disraeli Project, was invited to speak to a group of Benjamin Disraeli scholars on March 24. This will be a great opportunity, Dr. Pharand points out, to get the word out on the research done at the Project.

Decades of research by the Project’s team of scholars has involved annotating the more than 12,000 letters written by Disraeli, half of which have now been published in 10 volumes in the University of Toronto Press’s series Benjamin Disraeli Letters.

Another great opportunity the symposium offers, says Dr. Pharand, is to make connections with other experts in the field.

“There’s going to be a number of scholars there. All of us giving papers are Disraeli people. Although I’ve not met any of them, I know many of them by name and reputation. I’ve read some of their books,” Dr. Pharand says. “It’s essentially a one-day opportunity to bring the world’s Disraeli experts together in a public forum open to all.”

There is also a big development on the horizon for the Disraeli Project: this year it celebrates its 40th anniversary with the online publication, most likely in September, of most of the project’s published letters and all of its unpublished ones.

“That has become a very important aspect of the Disraeli Project: world access to our collection. Of course none of the letters will have annotations, the scholarly material that make our books so valuable,” Dr. Pharand explains. “For that, people will have to wait until the books are published.”

'Harrowing stories' on the Ebola frontline

The battle against the spread of the Ebola goes on in Sierra Leone with posters in the capital city Freetown providing information on how to reduce the chances of spreading the deadly virus. (Submitted photo)

While the Ebola crisis in West Africa has primarily disappeared from the headlines, the ravages of the deadly virus continue.

Mainstream media attention has moved on, yet the international effort to contain the outbreak continues and a Queen’s University professor is in Sierra Leone and Liberia working to improve the response to the disease.

Udo Schuklenk (Philosophy) traveled to the affected areas to produce a report on expanded access to experimental drugs for Ebola patients for Medecins Sans Frontieres. Dr. Schuklenk has done continuing research on the issue of access to experimental drugs for catastrophically-ill patients ever since he undertook his doctoral research in the 1990s.

It’s been an eye-opening experience he says. Hearing the stories from survivors first-hand and seeing the effects of the virus will certainly have a lasting impact.

“As part of the consultancy work I am undertaking I had to talk to a number of Ebola survivors. The harrowing stories of whole families being wiped out one after another is not something that I will forget for quite some time to come. Truly devastating experiences,” he says. “It will take a long time for those survivors’ wounds to heal, if they ever will.”

Those who enter the outbreak zone are walking into another world, one where nobody is allowed to touch another person. Dr. Schuklenk says the no-contact policy takes some getting used and affects daily interactions.

Also, to prevent further spread of the virus there are “endless disinfection rituals,” involving chlorine solutions of various strengths. Hand washing is so regimented and rigorous that it takes up a significant portion of the day. Even shoes are sprayed pretty much continuously, he says.

There are reminders that the crisis is far from over.

A day after Dr. Schuklenk sent his replies to the Gazette’s questions Sierra Leone’s vice president was put into quarantine after his bodyguard died of Ebola. On the same day in the capital city Freetown all public transportation was halted at 6 pm and parts of city were quarantined.

As he has traveled through the country he has also gained a better understanding of its people’s plight, even without the virus. Sierra Leone was devastated by a civil war and average life expectancy is around 40 years while basic necessities of life like reliable electricity or water supply do not exist in many parts of the country.

“One village we visited had neither electricity nor access to clean water,” he says. “People fetched their water from a nearby swamp. In that same small village 40 people died of Ebola virus disease. I met a few of those who survived it, all complained about their infection’s continuing negative effects on their quality of life, including severe joint pain, problems with their eye sight and other issues.”

Still Dr. Schuklenk says there are positives to be seen.

Despite all Sierra Leone has been through Dr. Schuklenk says he “can't help but feel optimistic about the country.”

Roadblocks where people are checked for signs of Ebola infection are everywhere yet infrastructure work continues. Schools have been closed for about 10 months due to the outbreak but the government is considering re-opening them by the end of March, he says.

And, amazingly, there are chance encounters.

Dr. Schuklenk met a Queen’s nursing alumnus, Rebecca Ngan (NSc’07), at an emergency medical centre near the village of Makambo where she was taking care of Ebola patients, donning her protective ‘space’ gear in temperatures over 30C.

Students show their appreciation

The Alma Mater Society presented four Queen’s staff with awards this week for “going above and beyond in support of students.”

Recipients of the award were (l-r): Vicky Andrews, Sarah Indewey, Dan Langham, followed by the three AMS executive members and David Patterson. (Photo Supplied)

Recipients of the AMS Staff Award, who were nominated by students across all years and disciplines, come from different corners of the university.

Vicky Andrews, Concurrent Education Assistant, says winning the award was special.

“Because this award is one that’s given by students, I think it’s that much more meaningful,” she says. “We’re unique here in that we have such a small faculty size, so the students know who I am and I get to know them too. It’s a nice, personal relationship.”

Another of the winners was Sarah Indewey (Advancement), whose nomination called her “the most enjoyable person to work with.” Ms. Indewey was praised for her energy, commitment and for the unparalleled support and guidance she provided to student-led initiatives.

The final two winners were Dan Langham (Environmental Health and Safety) and David Patterson (Campus Security and Emergency Services), who were recognized for their contribution to the ReUnion Street Festival.

“Both Dan and David were more than willing to help make sure the festival ran smoothly,” says Philip Lloyd (ConEd’13) and Vice-President (University Affairs) of the AMS. “They came in early, stayed late, and always made sure we asked the right questions.”

Mr. Lloyd’s gratitude extended to all of the winners.

“All four of these people are incredibly deserving,” he says. “There are lots of staff here at Queen’s who are excellent and I hope students continue to go the extra step to recognize them. This sort of appreciation goes a long way.”

Full award citations can be found on the AMS website

New edition of the Gazette

The March 10 edition of the Gazette is out and distributed around Queen’s campus, as well as a number of off-campus locations.

[Gazette 03-24-2015]
View the Gazette online.

The newspaper is filled with interesting Queen's-focused items including:

  • A look ahead to the events planned for Aboriginal Awareness Week, starting March 16
  • The first in a series of profiles of staff, called People of Queen's
  • A look at efforts to improve the amount of waste that is diverted from the landfill.
  • Articles on the latest research, awards and achievements of student-athletes.

The Gazette is published bi-weekly; the next edition will hit the newsstands on March 24.

Anyone looking to get a story, photo or information in the Gazette can contact the paper's editor Andrew Carroll or Senior Communications Officer Mark Kerr.

Also visit the Gazette Online for more stories and photos and follow us on Twitter at @queensuGazette.

Getting back to Gaelic

With St. Patrick’s Day around the corner, Danny Doyle (MAC’15) is reminding campus that we’re more Irish than we realize.

Danny Doyle stands in front of the official Gaelic translation of "O Canada". (University Communications)

On Thursday, March 12, he’ll be delivering a public lecture on the history of the Gaelic language in Canada, from its early spread and use, to the large influx of speakers during the Great Irish Famine and the causes for the language’s eventual decline.  

“It’s accepted in scholarship that people left Ireland speaking Gaelic, but what’s never been discussed is what happened to them when they arrived in Canada,” says Mr. Doyle. “It’s not as though they got off the boat and stopped speaking the language.”

On the contrary, Mr. Doyle says that Gaelic, in its various dialects, was once Canada’s third-most spoken language. One in 10 Canadians were fluent in Gaelic at the time of confederation and it was the mother tongue of many of the country’s political founders — Sir John A Macdonald himself spoke Scottish Gaelic. There was once even a bill in the House of Commons that proposed making Gaelic Canada’s third official language.

The beginning of the decline in Gaelic’s popularity came with the Great Famine, a period of mass starvation that afflicted Ireland from 1845-52 when a blight ravaged the country’s potato crop.

“The famine did horrible things to the language, because it primarily affected rural farmers who were mostly Gaelic speakers. People’s opinion of the language was devastated. It was an ancestral indigenous language which people believed had been spoken since the Tower of Babel,” says Mr. Doyle. “Suddenly, after the famine, it became the language of death and poverty. Speaking English symbolized moving on with your life.”

Mr. Doyle is part of a small but dedicated group who are trying to revive Gaelic in Canada. As the group’s unofficial heritage officer, he began assembling a record of the language’s use, a project that grew and grew until he had enough content for a manuscript, which will be published later this year. Thursday’s lecture is culled from the content of his book, which brings to light information about the country as a whole as well as some places close to home.

“In 1847, more than 49,000 Gaelic speakers came through Kingston as they travelled along the Rideau Canal. They stopped here before redistributing to other communities, but Kingston became a big centre for Gaelic speakers,” he says.

Along with having a Gaelic newspaper, Kingston began celebrating traditional Irish holidays, and Mr. Doyle says the first recorded celebration of Halloween (derived from the Irish festival of Samhain) in North America was in Kingston.

By bringing to light Gaelic’s history in Canada, Mr. Doyle hopes to reignite people’s interest in a language that was fundamental to the country.

“It’s said that Gaelic culture is a tapestry that’s been ravaged by time, so we have to gather together all those threads lest we lose it,” he says.

Mile Mile I gCein: 500 Years of Irish Gaelic in Canada is Thursday, March 12 at 7 pm in 517 Watson Hall.

New website a hub for sustainability

The Queen’s Sustainability Office has launched a newly redesigned website to act as a hub for sustainability information at Queen’s and engage the campus community in lessening the university’s impact on the environment.

“The website is a resource for everyone, whether you want to know about energy savings, sustainable transportation options, or simply which recycling bin your coffee cup goes in,” says Aaron Ball, Sustainability Manager. “We now have sections that link users with ways they can become more active in campus sustainability, and a resource area that offers information, tips and guides through a variety of mediums such as videos and posters.”

One of the sustainability-themed posters available on the Sustainability Office's new website.

The website features a new collection of videos on sustainability topics, green maps that highlight bike rack and water bottle filling station locations, downloadable sustainability posters, and tip sheets to help green your office and reduce energy consumption. It also has an idea form where anyone can submit a tip or project that could help make a more sustainable campus.

One of Mr. Ball’s favourite features is a new “history of campus sustainability” timeline.

“It is one of the coolest elements of the site, illustrating the environmental journey we have been on dating back to 1904,” he says. “And it’s a history that is still being written. We look forward to adding new sustainability initiatives to the timeline as the university undertakes new projects and reaches new milestones in the years ahead.”

During March, the Queen’s Sustainability Office is running a contest.  To participate, check out the new website and follow the link to the office’s Facebook page. Those that ‘Like’ the page and post a comment about their favourite feature of the new website will be entered into a draw to win a prize.

People of Queen's: Up to the challenge

With this article, the Gazette launches a new series profiling Queen’s staff members. Their passion and dedication have enriched the various offices they have worked in over the years and helped make the university what it is today.

[Audrey Hunt]
Audrey Hunt has held a number of positions at Queen’s University since starting to work here in 1979. Currently she is the Department of Emergency Medicine’s departmental and financial administrator. (University Communications)

At 2009’s Celebration of Service Tree Dedication ceremony, Audrey Hunt was asked to speak on behalf of her peers to those in attendance. In the 30 years she’d worked at Queen’s, she had held a number of positions in different departments, so it seemed fitting that she speak for the group.

“The Queen’s spirit extends beyond the students and alumni.  I feel a great loyalty to Queen’s. I have worked here since 1979 and my husband Rick since 1982.  It’s been our livelihood all these years,” she says. “I always felt like there were great opportunities to advance. There are strong benefits to working at Queen’s and I love the energy and atmosphere — I like that there’s always young people around, even if it seems like they get younger every year.”

Mrs. Hunt began at Queen’s in temporary positions, working as a secretary in the Department of Electrical Engineering and then receptionist in Human Resources. Her first permanent job was as the secretary in the Department of Classics in 1979. There, among other responsibilities, she typed faculty members’ class notes and research reports.

“Every once in a while they’d use a word that needed the Greek alphabet,” she says with a laugh. “So, I mastered the art of changing the typewriter ball from English to Greek and back again.”

Mrs. Hunt always had her eyes set on coming opportunities so she made a point of taking advantage of every professional development course at Queen’s that would help build her skillset. She says the mix of administration, financial and managerial training courses she took were instrumental in getting her from work in Student Awards where she held 3 different positions, to the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, to her current position as the Department of Emergency Medicine’s departmental and financial administrator.

In Emergency Medicine, Mrs. Hunt manages the department’s budget, helps develop its strategic plans, supervises staff and handles a number of other responsibilities that she’s taken on over the 18 years she’s been in the position. Since the department achieved full departmental status, it has undergone significant changes, growing from 12 faculty members to 45, four support staff and many medical residents and students. Audrey Hunt has been there for all of them.

“I absolutely love this job and our faculty, staff and students. I’ve enjoyed all my jobs, but up until this one, I felt like I was moving up, like it was a progression. When I arrived here, I believed this was it,” she says. “If it had ever gotten to the point where there weren’t new challenges, I probably would have searched for something else. But, looking out, as long as the group will have me for another few years, I hope this is where I’ll retire from.”

Suggestions for profiles can be sent to Gazette editor Andrew Carroll.


Community shares ideas for Stauffer Terrace

  • [Design ideas on paper]
    Participants could look out on Stauffer Terrace as they dreamed up ideas for the space.
  • [Justin Reekie]
    Justin Reekie, Vice-President (Operations), Alma Mater Society, shares his design idea for the Stauffer Terrace.
  • [Public meeting in Alan G. Green Fireplace Reading Room]
    Participants at the Stauffer Terrace meetings explored and sketched their ideas for the design of the space.
  • [Joe Davis and Shelley King]
    Project manager Joe Davis and Shelley King, a professor in the Department of English Language and Literature, discuss the Stauffer Terrace designs.

Queen’s University Library held a number of design charrettes  last week where faculty, staff, students and alumni brainstormed ideas for Stauffer Terrace. The outdoor space is located on the second floor of the library overlooking Union Street adjacent to the Alan G. Green Fireplace Reading Room.

The Stauffer Terrace project supports the Library and Archives Master Plan’s recommendation of converting unused or underused areas in Queen’s libraries into study, social and event spaces. Ideas gathered during the meetings will inform the redevelopment project, which is in the early stages with scope and timeline still to be determined. 

Senate, Board election results announced

The University Secretariat has announced the results of the recent Board of Trustee and Senate elections.

Dean McKeown (Queen’s School of Business) won the Senate staff election.

Ginette Denford (Division of Student Affairs) will join the Board as the newest staff trustee. David Bakhurst (Philosophy) will fill the faculty/librarian/archivist trustee position.

The University Secretariat would like to congratulate the winners and thank all of the faculty and staff members who put their names forward in the elections.  


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