Posts Tagged With: UTSC-Centennial Student

A Good Home

Rachel Muenz Writes About Finding a Good Home - Photo Courtesy of

Rachel Muenz Writes About Finding a Good Home - Photo Courtesy of

By Rachel Muenz

I don’t like cleaning because it’s not something where you use your head and when I don’t use my head, it wanders into things I’d rather forget. But I don’t like living in filth either. I’ve had enough dirt in my life as it is. So that’s why I’ve got my fingers down the bathtub drain and the smell of Vim burning the inside of my nose. I find the piece of hair and pull. It keeps coming and coming, a whole ponytail slimy with old shampoo.

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Categories: Creative Writing, Culture, Entertainment, Home Decor, Living, Media Writing, travel, Writing (all kinds) | Tags: , , , , , , , ,


Struggling Schizoprenic Mother Tries to Make it on Her Own - Photo Courtesy of

Struggling Schizoprenic Mother Tries to Make it on Her Own - Photo Courtesy of

By Rachel Muenz

Uneven rows of umbrellas bobbed towards her. Their metal frames frightened her to the edge of the sidewalk and then back into the alley against the cold dumpster. The thin spokes reminded her too much of wing bones. Her fingers dug at the air around her knees. She looked down and jumped, shocked to find nothing there.

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Categories: Creative Writing, Culture, Disability, Education, Health, Living, Media Writing, Religion, Writing (all kinds) | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The Discoveries of Columbus

Rachel Muenz Writes that Lorian Has a Deep Love for His Dog Columbus - Photo Courtesy of Stockexpert

Rachel Muenz Writes that Lorian Has a Deep Love for His Dog Columbus - Photo Courtesy of Stockexpert

By Rachel Muenz

Lorian sat in the sand, his lap cold without the dog. He glared at the black and silver points of the waves. His father had no right to get rid of it. But Lorian figured he should have seen it coming because his father had never gone out of his way to make him happy.

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A Rookie's Story is Told by Rachel Muenz - Photo Courtesy of Stockexpert

A Rookie’s Story is Told by Rachel Muenz – Photo Courtesy of Stockexpert

By Rachel Muenz

Jo Henday, Sister:

I should be proud of you but I’m not. Not of a single shot.

Your first goal came off my stick, remember? The puck was pinned to the boards by a couple pairs of skates and there were five of us from both teams working at it in a clatter of wood. Some kid kept cross-checking me in the back – no penalty – but I fought my way through the press of jerseys and dug the puck out. I flung it towards the net because I knew you were there.

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Blue Death: A five-part series by the Teeny Tracer on how protestors are destroying money and lives at Dump Site 52

Rachel Muenz Does a Parody on a Dumpsite - Photo Courtesy of Stockexpert

Rachel Muenz Does a Parody on a Dumpsite – Photo Courtesy of Stockexpert

The plight of North Comise garbage: Part one of a five-part series

By Zema Luncher

In homes across North Comise County, the garbage bag is kept hidden from sight in cupboards or garages, unable to socialize with the families it lives with and treated as less than the family dog. After a week, it is stuffed into a bin and left for hours until it is hurled into a truck for a long, crowded journey to an even more crowded landfill. Here, it is dumped in piles with thousands of other bags, left to be torn apart by seagulls, crows and other scavengers, never knowing the taste of clean water or the smell of fresh air.

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Categories: Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Health, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Financial degradation at Site 52 puts species at risk: Part three of a five-part series

Rachel Muenz Continues With Part Three of Her Series on Garbage - Photo Courtesy of

Rachel Muenz Continues With Part Three of Her Series on Garbage – Photo Courtesy of

By Zema Luncher

Protests at Site 52 are putting a severe strain on the financial ecosystem, damaging the habitats of taxpayers and politicians, says Comise County Warden Tom Gudgeon.

Blockades at the proposed dump site in Teeny Township are not only harming these species but the protestors as well, he added.

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Categories: Business, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Bicycle Time

Rachel Muenz Explores Bicycle Time in a Short Story - Photo Courtesy of

Rachel Muenz Explores Bicycle Time in a Short Story - Photo Courtesy of

By Rachel Muenz

The road unrolls before him, cracked and purple-grey. The pavement is worn but good, better than that behind him, cratered and half-repaired with uneven disks of tar. On either side, trees slide past the corners of his eyes, their branches reaching for his arms. Beyond the trees, the hunched forms of hills, shadowed and filmed with pale green, rise and fall. He feels the hum of the tires in his chest, right through to his heart. It is pure joy.

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Categories: Creative Writing, Culture, Entertainment, Living, Pets, travel, Writing (all kinds) | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Muttluks to the rescue!

Rachel Muenz Writes About Muttlucks for Dogs - Photo Courtesy of

Rachel Muenz Writes About Muttlucks for Dogs - Photo Courtesy of

By Rachel Muenz

They protect your feet from extreme cold when playing in the snow. Military personnel use them to keep the pads of their feet from burning up on the hot ground of Afghanistan. Broken glass and other hazards won’t hurt you because of these boots. You are a dog, after all, and you don’t always pay attention to where you’re walking whether you’re just fooling around or saving lives.

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Categories: Culture, Education, Environment, Living, Media Writing, Pets, travel, Writing (all kinds) | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Shoes of mass destruction

Some People Will Do Anything to Blow Things Up - Photo Courtesy of

Some People Will Do Anything to Blow Things Up - Photo Courtesy of

By Rachel Muenz

It begins with a flash of light just below the windows of the aircraft. Then, the fuselage buckles outward and bursts into thousands of pieces which flutter to the ground like shreds of paper. A cloud of thick smoke engulfs half the plane. A shot from inside shows the craft rocking to one side as the floor begins to disintegrate, the camera lens going black as everything is destroyed.

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No country for shoe schools

Rachel Muenz Has Discovered There Are No Shoe Schools in Canada - Photo Courtesy of

Rachel Muenz Has Discovered There Are No Shoe Schools in Canada - Photo Courtesy of

By Rachel Muenz

There are no shoe design schools in Canada and you can blame that on our climate.

Because of our ever-changing weather, Canadians tend to put function over fashion, according to Sarah Beam-Borg, the assistant curator at Toronto’s Bata Shoe Museum. “North Americans, traditionally, haven’t been sticklers for beautiful manufacture in footwear also because we need so many different kinds of shoes for our climate,” she says.

There’s a saying at the Bata Shoe Museum, Beam-Borg adds. The average Italian is willing to spend up to $500 for a single pair of beautiful shoes and they’ll have about 10 pairs of shoes in their closet.

The average North American will spend about $70 for a fashionable pair of shoes but they’ll have 30 or 40 pairs in their closet.

Canadians need winter boots, summer sandals, footwear for wet weather, shoes for work, and shoes for play. Paying $500 for each pair would put most people in the poorhouse.
As a result, we don’t worry about style so much and Canada has never gained a reputation for fashion.

“We have our own Fashion Week but Canada isn’t really a fashion centre on the world stage,” says Beam-Borg. “It isn’t known for its footwear design or manufacture and never has been.”

Most shoe manufacture is done in China where labour is cheapest and most of the design is done in Italy, seen as one of the major fashion centres of Europe, Beam-Borg says.
There’s also been little interest in shoe design programs here.
Beam-Borg has worked with the Ryerson University fashion department for the last six or seven years doing shoe design competitions with the students. When the competitions were mandatory, 150 students would show up, but as soon as shoe design was made optional, only nine came to compete.
“Unless it’s a course requirement, students aren’t seeking it out,” she says.

As far as Beam-Borg knows, no one has tried to establish a shoe design school or program in Canada and she doubts anyone ever will.

Greg Flood also says no one has tried setting one up in Ontario.

Flood, a spokesman for the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities, says if post-secondary schools in Ontario saw shoe design as necessary, they would submit curriculum and criteria for a shoe program to the ministry for funding.

No such submission has been put forward.

“I’m not aware at the present time about a university or college that has identified shoe design as a need within the province of Ontario,” he says.

But, there is one program that focuses on shoes in Canada and it fits perfectly with the North American desire for needs over style.

It is the post-graduate program in pedorthics at Western University.

Pedorthics involves the making of special shoes and inserts for people with foot injuries or ailments. Those who practice it are called pedorthists.

All aspiring pedorthists must take this program.

“Anybody new now entering into this field must graduate and get a diploma through Western,” says Linda Deschamps, a certified pedorthist and kinesiologist who’s also an instructor in the program.

Before, students did an apprenticeship program which involved three years of work to get certified. Deschamps says the new program is better because it is more objective and faster to finish, taking only one year to complete.

With Canada’s aging population, you would think a single program wouldn’t be enough to keep up with the demand for pedorthists’ skills, but Deschamps says this isn’t so.

“If it was just pedorthists that were dealing with the aging feet, it would not be enough,” she says from her clinic in Kingston, Ontario. “But there are other Allied Health Professionals who also deal with the feet.”

Orthotists, who make custom inserts for shoes, chiropodists, who treat foot diseases and deformities, and podiatrists who also care for the foot, are some of the other professionals helping to deal with the increasing foot problems that come with age.

The program at Western is also open to people all across Canada because the courses are offered online with three work terms in between that can be taken almost anywhere in the country.

It was started by one of the first Canadian certified pedorthists, the late Howard Fiegel, and is in its fifth year. Only about 20 students are accepted and around 12 to 20 graduate each year. But, there are advantages to staying small.

“They’re not high numbers from our course but these are very strong students who help another clinic along the way and eventually open up their own,” Deschamps says. “We could take more but those are the numbers that appear to be good candidates.”

She says the program is growing slowly because pedorthics is not a well-known field, having only been in Canada for about 30 years. There are now around 400 pedorthists registered with the Pedorthic Association of Canada.
This slow growth does have its positives though.

“In some ways it’s a very good thing because we have control over the students that come through and the product that leaves in the end,” Deschamps says.

She expects the program will expand to another university in the future, possibly in western Canada, but says it probably won’t get bigger than that.

Also, a second program isn’t likely to open soon.
“There’s only one program because of numbers, because of financing, because of the need at this point,” says the pedorthist, who was certified 17 years ago through an apprenticeship. “We’ve looked into it, [. . . ] but at this point, numbers are only dictating the need for one.”
There are negatives to those low numbers as well.
“If we had larger numbers applying, of course, it would allow us to open more doors and offer more because, financially, we would be more feasible as well,” Deschamps says.
Overall, she says the program is a great one to be in.
“It’s a very strong, young program,” Deschamps says.
As for Canadians interested in the fashion side, there are still options.

Beam-Borg says people usually go to schools in other countries, such as Cordwainers, a shoe design school in London, England.

“You go where the best education is and [. . .], Canada’s never been a traditional place for shoe design or shoe manufacture,” she says.

But she agrees it is difficult for people who don’t have a lot of money to afford the cost of a foreign education. The one-year, post-graduate shoe design program at the Fashion Institute of Design and Marketing in California costs $30,000 in tuition.

“If you can’t afford to go then perhaps you can’t be a shoe designer, which sociologically is a problem, absolutely,” Beam-Borg says. “But I think if you have the skill, a lot of people also get bursaries and grants.”

Many people could also take a fashion illustrations program in Canada and then get into shoe design by gaining experience at a fashion house or shoe design company in the U.S. or Europe, Beam-Borg says. There are three such programs in Toronto at Seneca College, Humber College, and Ryerson.

“If you want to do shoe design, fashion illustration seems to be the quickest way to get into that vein,” Beam-Borg says. “If shoes catch your fancy, odds are really good if you can draw a shirt, you can draw a shoe.”

Categories: Beauty, Education, Living, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Need help? Just give me a call with tobacco

Rachel Muenz Writes About Tobacco - Photo:

Rachel Muenz Writes About Tobacco - Photo:

By: Rachel Muenz

Before I climbed to the third floor of the North Borden Building on Spadina, I thought tobacco was bad. But now I know that it can be good, depending on how you use it. Tobacco can help students like me get the confidence they need to make their dreams soar.

It is here at the University of Toronto’s First Nations House where I meet Grafton Antone, one of two Aboriginal elders there, to talk about the work he does with students at U of T. In exchange for that information, I must give him a tiny packet of tobacco wrapped in yellow cloth.

Antone explains tobacco is sacred in Aboriginal culture because it is how natives communicate with Creator, their supreme being, when they need guidance.

“The smoke carries our prayers up to Creator and Creator said, ‘if you want anything, just give me a call and here’s my telephone,’ says Antone, holding up a piece of dried tobacco and laughing. This is why elders are given tobacco in exchange for information and counselling. It’s a way of asking for help.
Students can also bring the elders other gifts. Antone shows me the large block of pink salt stone he got from a student earlier that day who told him it came from Pakistan. He turns it in his hands so I can see the hole in the top where a candle can be put inside and lit to make the stone glow.

Just like lighting the salt stone, Antone helps feed the fires of students’ dreams with his booming laugh and encouraging words so they can shine with success.

“I work with people’s dreams and make them happen,” says Antone, who’s been an elder at First Nations House since about the year 2000.

Antone shows me how he does this by asking students questions and learning what their dreams are. Knowing a bit more about students, he can then bounce ideas off them for how they can go about achieving those dreams.

“That’s where we build; we build on our relationship,” Antone says. “We build on our conversations and that’s what I do. I dialogue with you and in dialoguing with you I’m able to work with you.”

But there’s only so much Antone can do to help a student. Overall, the student needs to have a goal and has to want to achieve that goal in order for Antone to give them guidance.
“A bird needs to have a dream to fly,” he says.

Kathy Marsden agrees. She’s been the native counsellor at the Aboriginal Resource Centre at Georgian College in Barrie for the past 12 years.

“If they’re [the students] not internally motivated, nobody can motivate them to change,” Marsden says. “The support services are about empowering, helping them to work things through themselves, not doing things for them.”

Like Antone, Marsden also uses Aboriginal teachings to help native students at the college. Her main way of helping students is by using what she calls “the medicine wheel approach.”

The medicine wheel is another important symbol of most First Nations, though it differs from group to group. It is a wheel divided into four sections: red, black, white, and yellow. The wheel stands for many different things, but Marsden’s counselling methods focus on the four parts of the self the wheel symbolizes: spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental.
Marsden mostly deals with the emotional part in her counselling but she says the four areas overlap.

“If someone’s under emotional stress, it’s affecting them in all those other areas,” she says. “It’s affecting them mentally, so they can’t concentrate on their academics. It’s affecting them physically; oftentimes they can’t sleep, so I don’t just deal with the emotional part.”

Balance is the aim of Marsden’s approach. She has students fill out a medicine wheel chart to show which of the four areas they need to work on. Eating well and getting enough exercise are some of the things she might help a student with in the physical part, while self-confidence issues could be a part of both the emotional and spiritual sections of the wheel.
“Depending on how lengthy the sessions are we may just deal with one specific aspect,” Marsden says. “But that’s OK. If it helps them get on with their lives, then that’s great.”

Helping students with those emotional problems can be hard.
Antone says that every single student that comes to see him is a difficult case in its own way, but it’s especially hard when the student is angry. Surprisingly, to help students get past their anger, he eggs them on to make them angrier.

“Sometimes when people are angry, it sometimes requires you to get a little bit more angry ‘til you realize that maybe that’s not really the right thing,” he says. “They catch themselves, they calm down and then I’m able to talk to them and maybe bring them down the good path.” The good path can mean forgiving people and treating them better instead of being mad, Antone adds.

Marsden agrees that anger shouldn’t be ignored even though most people see it as a negative emotion.

“The way we look at it is, all our emotions are given to us by Creator so we have to honour all those emotions and it’s how we deal with them that counts,” she says.

Smudging ceremonies are also a way that elders and native counsellors might help students deal with stress and other problems.

In his tiny office at First Nations House with the window open a crack, Antone shows me how smudging is done.

He takes a large shell from a table at the back of the room and sprinkles some grey-white sage leaves into it. He lights them on fire and smoke begins to curl up to the ceiling. I sweep the smoke over myself with my hands three or four times as Antone says for me to do. It has a spicy sweet smell and, as Antone says, “it makes you want to start cooking turkey.”

Aboriginals believe everyone has an energy surrounding them. The smoke from the sage or other plants First Nations use in smudging, such as sweetgrass, works like a shower to wash away negative energy, Antone says.

“What it does is it works with the thinking. It’s good for people and it’s supposed to bring understanding and it’s supposed to clear your mind,” he says. “And in the clearing of the mind it gives a new space, a new time, a new beginning for you to be able to walk the future.”

I feel calmer after bathing myself in the sage smoke and wish I had known about smudging during my last set of assignments.
But smudging doesn’t work for everybody.

“You only get out of it what you put into it,” Antone says.
He adds that postsecondary education is a kind of smudging, because by gaining knowledge, the energy around people changes too.

Learning about the Aboriginal worldview helps students with their personal growth, says Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux, an Aboriginal studies professor at the University of Toronto.
Unlike mainstream society, the native viewpoint focuses on the success of everyone as a group rather than the success of one person, Wesley-Esquimaux says.

“When it’s all about you and all you’re concerned about is getting to the top of the game, then you don’t care who you step on,” she says. “Whereas with the Aboriginal worldview it’s not like that, it’s not competitive, it’s about trying to help each other get to a good place.”

By thinking of helping other people instead of just themselves, students not only become better people, they also become part of a community, Wesley-Esquimaux adds. Because of this, they avoid the loneliness and homesickness students often experience when they first get to university or college. Taking part in native community activities like potlucks and feasts means that students gain the support of many people and aren’t left on their own to deal with the transition to university or college.

“They [the students] seem to enjoy the inclusive nature of it. They like being involved in putting together feasts and spending a lot of time with each other,” she says. “They like that part. They don’t feel so isolated.”

Marsden says this idea of community and getting students involved is important at Georgian College as well. Though her counselling services are just for native students, the Aboriginal Resource Centre, like First Nations House, also has events and activities for all students and they have an elder on campus who everyone can visit for help.

“We’re not exclusive, we’re inclusive and that’s a huge factor,” Marsden says.

Changing students’ ways of thinking either through seeing an elder or learning more about Aboriginal culture can help them overcome seemingly impossible challenges at school, Antone says.

“It is not impossible, it’s only the space that you’re sitting in or the environment that you’re engulfed in . . . if we move you over just that much,” he says, holding his hands about an inch apart, “All of a sudden you say, ‘Oh I can see it, I understand it now.”

With a bit of nudging, students see solutions to problems that they were blind to before.

Talking with students and hearing their stories is what Antone enjoys most about working at First Nations House.
“I like to listen to people and I hear their stories. That’s how I can get a story.”

But it also makes him happy when he sees students carrying on what he’s taught them by performing various First Nations ceremonies themselves.

Passing on knowledge is what he really seems to love.
“I changed you,” he says with a laugh. “I smudged you. You’re no longer the same person as you were when you came in here.

You now have an access to the Aboriginal understanding.”
It’s true.

When I first climbed to the third floor of the North Borden Building on Spadina, I was nervous and scared. I didn’t know what First Nations culture was, though I’d read a lot about it.
Now I know a little something, and as I walk away from First Nations House, up the dreary wet street, I’m happy and confident. I know more about who I am.

All because of a little bundle of tobacco wrapped in yellow cloth.

Categories: Business, Culture, Education, Health, Living, Media Writing, Writing (all kinds) | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

TTC, Student President Ousted for Smoking, Spice Girls

Kimberlee Nancekivell Writes about the TTC – Photo Courtesy of

Kimberlee Nancekivell - February 16, 2010

Kimberlee Nancekivell
Online Story 2

A news conference is being held at the Sheraton Centre on Tuesday morning to address the conflict between TTC workers, administration, and riders.

A group called “Toronto Transit Operators against public harassment” appeared on Facebook last week, collecting more than 500 members in a few days. The purpose of the group was to provide an outlet for workers to discuss how to deal with the recent accusations that they were not doing their jobs as well as they could.

These accusations followed the publication of photos and videos captured by riders showing TTC workers asleep, or taking breaks when they should have been working.

Among the solutions discussed by TTC workers in the group were a work-to-rule campaign, which hasn’t materialized, and retaliation via photography, with workers posting photos of riders breaking TTC rules.

Word of the possible work-to-rule campaign made it to already angry riders who joined the Facebook group and gave their two cents. Riders posted so many complaints about the TTC that the group had to be closed to new members.

Bob Kinnear, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113, will be speaking to the media at the conference Tuesday morning. Though he hasn’t confirmed anything, Kinnear is expected to address the memo from administration to workers that he says puts all the blame on the workers.

Kirsten Parucha Writes about a President Ousted for Smoking inside – Photo Courtesy of

Kirsten Parucha - February 16, 2010

Online Story 2 – Kirsten Parucha

Zuhair Syed has officially been removed as president of the Student Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus (UTSC).

After a three-day voting process (which took place from Feb. 3-5), 554 UTSC students voted yes to have Syed removed and 477 UTSC students voted no.

Syed’s removal was officially announced Friday night on the SCSU website.

The vote to have Syed removed as president was provoked in late December of 2009 when the Chairman of SCSU issued a tier 3 motion for his removal. His request was based on allegations that Syed was not attending mandatory meetings, was occasionally late for mandatory meetings and that he had been smoking and drinking in his office.

These allegations sparked much tension between SCSU members and students and provoked petitions and Facebook groups to have Syed removed.

After the tier 3 motion was placed, Syed’s presidential duties were taken away from him and were given to VP External, Amir Bashir in early January.

Now that Syed is no longer president, it’s up to the Board on whether they want to keep Bashir as acting president or if the role will be handed to another official.

Megan Harris Writes about the Spice Girls – Photo Courtesy of

Megan Harris - February 16, 2010

Spice Girls: The Musical
-Megan Harris

At the end of May 1998, fans everywhere mourned the end of an era. Geri Halliwell left the Spice Girls, and it seemed like it was the end for the popular British pop group. Then in 2007, the band reunited for a reunion tour, culminating on February 26 2008. Once the hype had died down, the world settled back to normal, and many thought the Spice Girls were gone for good this time.

But were they? After months of rumours, it was officially announced at the end of January this year that a Spice Girls musical, Viva Forever, is coming to the West End in London.

The contents of the show will be fictional but will include many of the band’s hit songs. It is being created by Simon Fuller, former manager of the Spice Girls, and Mamma Mia! producer Judy Craymer.

“I want to create a unique celebration of the band and its music, with its own flavour and joyful message,” Craymer told CBC news. “It is important to me that the excitement, style, and humour of the Spice Girls is well represented on stage.”

Although there is currently no timetable set for the show, it is expected to launch in two or three years, according to London’s Mirror newspaper. Judging by the huge fan base the Spice Girls still have, and the prior achievements of the group, things are looking up for the success of the musical.


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