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Queen's Model Parliament heading to the Hill

[Queen's Model Parliament]
Students participating in last year's Queen's Model Parliament enter the House of Commons. (Supplied photo)

The House of Commons will take on a decidedly youthful look this week.

A group of 330 students from Queen’s University will be in Ottawa for Queen’s Model Parliament (QMP), a three-day event starting Wednesday that will see them forming political parties, drafting legislation and engaging in debate on issues of the day in the House of Commons itself.

While several other post-secondary institutions have similar programs, QMP, at 68 years and counting, was the first to actually be held in the House of Commons and is the longest at three days.

According to Read Leask (Artsci’17), QMP co-chair along with Lucia Guerrero (Artsci’15), the focus of the conference is to engage youth in the nation’s political process with experiences that can’t be gained through the classroom or textbooks.

“We bring 330 delegates and our goal is not to create 330 Members of Parliament or future leaders. Our goal is to make 330 engaged citizens who are very informed about the political process in Canada,” he says. “That is what they gain. They gain the skills of being able to know how to write an actual parliamentary bill, how to participate in a parliamentary debate.”

Another difference, Mr. Leask points out, is that QMP brings in a different member of political life to preside over each bill.

“So that gives us the opportunity to bring about 20 speakers over the course of the three days,” he says. “There’s a huge diversity in opinions and ideas that the students are exposed to from these leaders.”

Last year’s event drew such political names as Leader of the Opposition Thomas Mulcair, former Liberal leader Stephane Dion, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, Kingston and the Islands MP Ted Hsu and former Speaker of the House and current Fellow at Queen’s Peter Milliken.

New to this year’s edition is a panel discussion with high-profile members of Parliament Hill’s press corps to give students an inside view of the media.

While the debates and bills passed are not binding, the debates are real and delegates prepare for months by attending weekly meetings where they learn about the political process.

This year’s QMP is being held Jan. 14-17. For more information visit queensmp.ca.

Making education more accessible

Queen’s University and the Faculty of Arts and Science have introduced a new Dean’s Admission Scholarship for incoming Bachelor of Arts students. The $1,500 to $2,000 first-year scholarship is available to students with an 88.5 to 89.9 high school average.

Students will be automatically considered for this award upon application.

“Canada needs more well-rounded, multi-talented arts graduates,” says Susan Mumm, Dean, Faculty of Arts and Science. “To meet this need, Queen’s is establishing additional admission scholarships to attract exceptional students. As well as a financial boost, these awards will provide a symbolic ‘vote of confidence’ in a student’s ability to succeed at Queen’s.”

To increase both applications and acceptances from high-caliber, well-rounded students to the Bachelor of Arts (Honours) program, the dean has made admission scholarships the highest faculty priority.

“Recognizing and acknowledging students for what they have already achieved, and underlining their potential to go further, is a significant commitment. Such an award from Queen’s can be a valuable endorsement on a graduating student’s resume,” says Dean Mumm. “We are excited to see this available for the incoming 2015 class thanks to our alumni and donors.”

The goal of Queen’s Initiative Campaign is to raise funds for all forms of student assistance for undergraduate, graduate and professional programs. To date, more than $60 million has been donated toward this purpose. Currently 50 per cent of arts and science students receive some type of financial support from the university.

For more information visit the website.

Rethinking Macdonald

[Erin Sutherland]
PhD candidate Erin Sutherland is curating a performance series that examines Sir John A. Macdonald's role and impact on Indigenous/settler relationships.

When Erin Sutherland (MA’12) arrived in Kingston from Alberta five years ago, planning for the 200th anniversary of Sir John A. Macdonald’s birth had already begun. With a background in native studies, Ms. Sutherland decided to work on incorporating Indigenous voices and perspectives into the commemoration.

Her efforts led to “Talking Back to Johnny Mac,” a performance series that will focus on Macdonald’s role and impact on Indigenous/settler relationships. The series launched on Jan. 11, Macdonald's bicentennial, with a performance by Métis artist and scholar David Garneau. 

“Sir John A. Macdonald was obviously a complex person and part of a complicated history,” says Ms. Sutherland, a PhD candidate in the cultural studies program. “I see this series as a way for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to engage in this celebratory moment while adding to the conversation about the multiple sides of Canada’s first prime minister.”

Five interdisciplinary artists will produce site-specific performances that explore issues of colonialism and Indigenous identities. The performances will occur in public spaces and be open to everyone.

Ms. Sutherland’s PhD research focuses on Indigenous curatorial methodologies and, more specifically, Indigenous performance art. “The series is a perfect way to meld my PhD interests and my desire to engage in this bicentennial,” she explains. “I am also excited to bring diverse artists to Kingston who haven’t performed in the city.”

While many of the bicentennial events celebrate Macdonald’s contributions as a nation-builder, Ms. Sutherland believes it’s important to think critically about one of Canada’s enduring icons.

“Sometimes we forget about the ways our colonial past influences our present,” she says. “Some people have talked about how Macdonald was a man of his time, but policies he was a huge part of such as the Indian Act and residential schools still have very real impacts today.”

Ms. Sutherland is still finalizing the dates for the other performances by Leah Decter, Ayumi Goto, Peter Morin and Adrian A. Stimson. 

India project a valuable experience for SURP students

[SURP Project in Pune India]
School of Urban and Regional Planning students attend a workshop at Bharati Vidyapeeth Deemed University (BVDU) after arriving in Pune, India. (Supplied photo)

There’s no better learning tool than hands-on experience. Add in international experience and you have the core of the Queen’s School of Urban and Regional Planning’s annual project course in India.

In its third year, and led by Professor Ajay Agarwal, a group of nine students made their way to Pune, a burgeoning city of more than 3 million located 150 km southeast of Mumbai.

The previous two projects took place in Auroville, but during that time Dr. Agarwal met with representatives of Bharati Vidyapeeth Deemed University (BVDU) and signed an MOU for scholarly collaboration.  They then found a good match for the Pune project in Janwani, an NGO funded by the local Chamber of Commerce that does work in different parts of city planning.

 “An arm of this NGO does heritage promotion. So they wanted us to help them do a heritage promotion for a particular part of Pune called ‘The Camp’ where not much has been done at all,” Dr. Agarwal explains. “The Camp is very rich in terms of both cultural heritage and architecture with different ethnic groups –Zoroastrians, Parsis, Hindus, Muslims and Christians. It’s an eclectic mix. For our project we delineated a part of The Camp called “Sadar Bazaar.”

A key to the annual project is that the group of students work as a mock-up consultant team, with members filling various roles, and take on real-life projects.

The first part of the fieldwork, which took place Dec. 5-17, was conducting an audit of the designated streets and designing a heritage walk using the principals of urban planning.

“So the walk should be interesting, walkable, comfortable, connecting interesting sites to look at, architecturally-rich buildings,” Dr. Agarwal says. “It should also give an experience of everyday-lived heritage – more than 100-year-old cafes where local residents hang out, there are a couple of blocks that are all tailors, there are a couple of blocks that are all jewelry stores. Those are the sorts of things that you don’t see in a modern-day city environment. Then there are these ethnic enclaves within The Camp. A heritage walker should experience the different flavours of these ethnicities.”

The second part was creating a heritage promotion plan, that included steps to brand the area as a heritage neighbourhood, how to preserve and highlight the heritage characters and distinguishing The Camp from the rest of Pune.

The work started months before they arrived in India with students conducting exhaustive background research on Pune including the history and architecture and looked into the best practices for designing heritage walks and branding heritage.

It also proved to be an invaluable learning experience outside the classroom, under challenging work conditions. Dr. Agarwal says the team had to deal with sporadic power supply and internet service and set up their office in a guesthouse.

“But that’s the learning experience,” he says.

This year, SURP students teamed up with six BVDU architecture students for fieldwork, which turned out to be an extremely enriching learning experience in itself.

Dr. Agarwal says that he feels fortunate that Queen’s, along with funding from Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute, has given him the opportunity to continue the project. It is also a big commitment for students as they have to pay their own travel and living expenses.

Three years in Dr. Agarwal says the program has not only been beneficial for the participants but for SURP and Queen’s as well.

“It’s become a part of SURP culture now. Because we all stay together when we are in India I get to interact a lot with students and several of them mentioned that they joined SURP and not another planning program because of this international project opportunity,” he says. “Nowhere else in Canada does something like this take place. There are other international projects but they are more like studies. You go in, study a neighbourhood and you come back. You don’t actually go and do a project as a consultant and deliver it to a client.”

The project's final presentation will be held Jan. 21 from noon to 1 pm in Room 554 of Robert Sutherland Hall.

Four alumni named to the Order of Canada

[Peter Milliken]
Peter Milliken, the longest serving Speaker of the House and currently a Fellow at Queen’s University’s School of Policy Studies, was recently appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada. (University Communications)

Four Queen’s alumni – from the fields of medicine, politics and media – have been appointed to the Order of Canada.

Peter Milliken (Arts'68, LLD'12), appointed as an Officer, the second highest rank of the Order of Canada, is the longest-serving Speaker of the House and former MP for Kingston and the Islands. During his decade as Speaker (2001-2011), he made several tie-breaking votes and historic rulings. He's also the longest-serving Member of Parliament for the riding of Kingston and the Islands, having been first elected in 1988.

He is currently a Fellow in the Queen’s School of Policy Studies.

The three others were named as Members of the Order of Canada.

Michael MacMillan (Artsci'78) founded Atlantis Films in 1978. The company won an Oscar (1984 short film Boys and Girls) and an Emmy before acquiring Alliance Communications. The company ran 13 TV networks – including HGTV Canada, History Television and the Food Network – before he retired. He co-authored the book of Tragedy in the Commons: Former Members of Parliament Speak Out About Canada’s Failing Democracy and founded Samara Canada, a non-profit organization designed to get Canadians more engaged with politics.

Dr. Brenda Gallie (Meds'69) is an ophthalmologist at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto who has conducted groundbreaking research on the genetics of retinoblastoma, a rare cancer of children’s eyes. 

Dr. Norman Marcon (Meds'62) is a doctor and researcher at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto. He is being honored for his work on gastrointestinal diseases and promoting the latest advances in therapeutic endoscopy.

Governor General David Johnston (Law’66, LLD’91) recently announced 95 new appointments to the Order of Canada, one of the nation’s highest civilian honours. The receipts will be honoured at a ceremony later this year in Ottawa.

Painting a picture of history

Queen’s University professor Gauvin Bailey (Art History) is one of only two scholars outside the United States to win the award from the National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship. With the funding, Dr. Bailey is undertaking the first comprehensive study of the arts and architecture of the French Atlantic Empire.

His forthcoming book, Art and Architecture in the French Atlantic World, will be the first book that examines both the artistic and architectural heritage of the French Atlantic Empire and looks at the connections and interactions between its many colonies.

Queen's professor Gauvin Bailey has earned funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship.

“For almost two decades I have worked on the arts and especially architecture of colonial Latin America, including both the Spanish and Portuguese empires,” says Dr. Bailey, Alfred and Isabel Bader Chair in Southern Baroque Art. “But it has always fascinated me that there was a third Catholic empire in the Americas at the same time which covered a similarly vast territory with its own cities, country mansions, and missions, yet which is virtually unknown to Latin Americanists. That empire is the French Atlantic Empire, extending from West Africa to Lake Superior, and from Lake Superior to French Guyana.”

The funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship will allow Dr. Bailey to conduct research travel and visit buildings, museums, and archives in distant places which would not otherwise be possible to visit. One of the really exciting things is that in places like Martinique or French Guyana some of the buildings have never even been researched before.

“They are interested in funding me because I am taking a topic that is generally only studied on a country-by-country basis and moving it beyond geographic barriers,” explains Dr. Bailey. “As in Canada, the United States has a huge French heritage that is frankly very little known and the funding agency probably saw that by placing it in the context of the Canadian, Caribbean, and African heritage that the book would be able to ask larger questions about the nature of this vast empire and the ways in which its arts and architecture expressed particular ideologies and attitudes.”

The National Endowment for the Humanities awarded $17.9 million in grants for 233 humanities projects. These include research for a book on a Hollywood-based Jewish spy ring that infiltrated and sabotaged Nazi and fascist groups in the U.S. in the 1930s and 40s, and the conservation of artifacts pertaining to the history of the Ancestral Pueblo people, homesteaders, and the Manhattan Project held by the Los Alamos Historical Society.

For more information on the grant visit the website.

A pain in the neck

Steven Fischer received the 2014 Major Sir Frederick Banting Award for the best oral presentation related to military health at this year’s Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research (CIMVHR) Forum.

For 70 per cent of helicopter aircrew in the Royal Canadian Armed Forces (RCAF), a helmet equipped with the necessary night vision goggles and battery pack causes real pains in the neck.

To help alleviate this pain for RCAF aircrew members, Steven Fischer and his research team from the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies have designed a short-term solution in the form of a simple add-on to back of the standard military helmet.

Currently, RCAF aircrew don a large helmet before takeoff. For night-flying, aircrew must also affix night vision goggles to the front of their helmet. Even though it’s only an extra 1.8 kg, the added weight can cause significant neck pain for those flying the helicopter as it causes an increase in the muscular demand of their necks to hold their heads upright.

Helmet
Helmets can cause significant neck strain for the wearer, especially after night vision goggles and a battery pack are fixed to the front of a helmet.

“We’ve designed a device that can be added to the back of the helmet to help support the muscles in keeping head balanced when the extra weight is placed on the front of the helmet,” says Dr. Fischer, who received the 2014 Major Sir Frederick Banting Award for the best oral presentation related to military health, as selected by the Surgeon General, at this year’s Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research (CIMVHR) Forum.

“Our aim was to be able to reduce the strain on the neck to day flight levels at a minimum. While it’s only a short term solution – a long term solution being a redesign to the entire helmet and night vision goggles system – we needed something practical and easy for pilots to use, that they could wear in the interim.”

After in-lab trials with the device, wearers reported considerably less neck-related pain or fatigue. The team is now working on the device’s ability to adjust/individualize the tension depending on the wearer.

Now that the development phase of this device is completed, the evaluation phase is well-underway with in-flight testing scheduled for the coming weeks.

The research team for this project also includes Jenna Dibblee, Portia Worthy, Joan Stevenson, Susan Reid, and Markus Hetzler.

For more information on the Banting Award, Forum 2014 or CIMVHR, follow this link.

An ode to Gordon Lightfoot

[Carolyn Smart and Gordon Lightfoot]
Carolyn Smart speaks with Gordon Lightfoot during the launch event for “50-plus Poems for Gordon Lightfoot,” an anthology of poetry in honour of the music legend. (Supplied photo)

Imagine being a teen girl in late-1960s Toronto and meeting Canadian music icon Gordon Lightfoot – the patron saint of the city's arts scene at the time - and in his own home no less.

That personal connection is the inspiration for Carolyn Smart’s (English) contribution to a newly-published book of poetry called 50+ Poems for Gordon Lightfoot.

A lifelong Lightfoot fan, Ms. Smart was contacted by Fred Addis, the curator for the Stephen Leacock Museum in Lightfoot’s hometown of Orillia and the organizer of the project, to provide a piece for the anthology. She was honoured just to be asked.

“I was just thrilled out of my mind. I couldn’t believe it was happening to me because, in fact, the poem that I wrote for this anthology tells the story of a true event that happened to me when I was in Grade 13,”she says.

As Ms. Smart, a published poet with six books to her credit who teaches Contemporary Canadian Literature and Creative Writing at Queen’s University, tells the tale, she and a pair of friends got up the courage to knock on the door of Lightfoot’s house.

As they tried to talk their way past the housekeeper Maria, who said the singer was not home, Lightfoot himself intervened.

“She was protecting him. He was preparing for his upcoming Massey Hall concert and just at that point we said ‘Well, we can hear him in here.’ She said ‘No he’s not here.’ He came down the stairs and he invited us in and he had Maria serve us tea,” she says. “We all sat around in his living room, had tea and chatted away.”

Guitarist Red Shea then entered the room and told Lightfoot that it was time to go. But the good times weren’t over for Ms. Smart and her friends.

“He went out one door and we went out the front door and were sort of floating around on the sidewalk and at that point two girls approached us from our high school – girls that we did not like,” she recalls with a laugh. “And at that exact moment Gord and Red Shea drove by and Gord honked his horn and waved at us. And these girls said ‘Oh my God, Oh my God’ and we said ‘Oh yeah, we’ve been hanging out with him.’

“It was the most amazing event, so that’s what I wrote the poem about.”

At the book’s recent launch in Toronto, with Lightfoot in attendance, Ms. Smart was among nine poets to read their piece while several musicians played songs and recounted what Lightfoot has meant to their careers.

“Each of the musicians spoke so generously about Gord and his kindness and his support of them when they were up-and-coming,” she says. “Throughout the evening it became crystal clear, as if I didn’t know it already, what an important impact he has had for generations in this country, both in music and in literature. He was just charming to me afterwards as usual, just the kindest, most respectful person. It was wonderful.”

Three other members of the Queen’s community are also in the anthology: Toronto poet laureate George Elliott Clarke, who earned his PhD from Queen's; Daniel David Moses, a professor in the drama department; and Ms. Smart’s former student Darryl Whetter, now a professor at Université Sainte-Anne.

Student's video captures Queen's spirit and thousands of views

[Ryan Lee]
Ryan Lee (ArtSci’16) created the online video "We Are the Gaels," which has drawn more than 12,000 views in two days. (University Communications)

Ryan Lee (ArtSci’16) set out with the goal of capturing the spirit of Queen’s University in a two-minute online video.

He succeeded.

Posted to YouTube on Monday, “We Are the Gaels” has already attracted more than 12,000 views. It’s fast-paced, polished and, if you have any connection to Queen’s, it will leave your spine tingling.

Perhaps, no surprise then, the video is drawing waves of praise.

“I’m blown away by the reception,” says Mr. Lee. “I did not imagine that it would reach that many people.”

The video took no small effort to complete. Coming in at just over two minutes, Mr. Lee says it took more than 72 hours to edit. Footage was taken throughout this year’s Orientation Week and Homecoming as well as during some early mornings.

“This is the most time I have ever spent on a video,” he says.

Spending the extra time at the university filming, he says, brought him closer to the Queen’s community and what it offers. It was a wonderful experience.

“It wasn’t really so much what I learned about Queen’s but it reinforced what I already knew about it,” he says. “That it really is awesome and that the people here are amazing.”

Mr. Lee is currently the president of the Queen’s Film Production Club and chair of the ASUS Film Committee. He first caught the videography bug through a Grade 8 project, continued to hone his skills and eventually was paid by his high school to create a video. He would then go on to create Reel Videography through the Summer Company program in his hometown of Peterborough.

A rare mathematics and film major, he says videography is an area he would like to continue to explore.

“It’s definitely a potential,” he says. “I’m still trying to figure that out myself but I want to continue my business and expand it to the greater Kingston area and beyond.”

Baders’ gift enhances art collection, Jewish Studies and teaching

[Isabel and Alfred Bader
Isabel and Alfred Bader, seen here at the grand opening of the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts in September, have donated $5.5 million to support an art collection, Jewish Studies and teaching at Queen's University. (University Communications)

Long-time Queen’s University benefactors Alfred and Isabel Bader have given $5.5 million to support an important international collection and expanding research and student interests.

The gift includes $3 million for the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, $1.5 million for the Jewish Studies program and $1 million for post-doctoral fellows in humanities departments.

“Students and faculty will see the immediate impact of these gifts through greater access to the knowledge afforded by the Jewish Studies program and the stunning Bader Collection in the art centre,” said Principal and Vice-Chancellor Daniel Woolf.

The $1.5 million gift to the Jewish Studies program will add teaching capacity to address growing interest among students. Courses in the program are full, with each large lecture, in all periods of Jewish history, attracting 130 students each term. Seminars are also in high demand.

The gift will fund a post-doctoral fellow in Jewish Studies who will teach a combination of lectures and seminars, offer public lectures and consult with students and faculty, and guest speak for other courses.

“Alfred Bader’s gift to Jewish Studies addresses the growing demand from our students of all backgrounds and ideologies to study together and learn from the diverse subjects in the program,” said Susan Mumm, Dean, Faculty of Arts and Science.

The $3 million gift supports a new Bader Legacy Fund endowment for the Bader Curator of European Art and the gallery’s care and interpretation of The Bader Collection.

The Bader Collection comprises of over 200 paintings spanning the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, with a focus on Dutch and Flemish paintings of the Baroque era, including two paintings by Rembrandt, which together reflect this master’s sphere of artistic influence.

“This endowment will have a transformative impact on the use and presence of The Bader Collection,” said Jan Allen, Director of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre. “With these resources, we will be able to create new access to the Collection for all students and undertake ambitious programs.”

Alfred Bader, Sc’45, Arts’46, MSc’47, LLD’86, and Isabel Bader, LLD’07, are Queen’s most generous benefactors. They have given back to Queen’s in countless ways: transforming the campus, enriching the student experience, supporting scholarship, and helping to enhance the University’s reputation as a top-tier educational institution.

In an extraordinary philanthropic gesture, the couple funded Queen’s purchase of a 15th century English castle – Herstmonceux – that has been meticulously restored and is now home to the Bader International Study Centre. This fall, thanks to a transformational gift from the Baders, the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts was opened. Earlier this year, they received Queen’s highest honour given by the Queen’s University Alumni Association, the Alumni Achievement Award.

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