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Seeds of Change is bearing fruit

Wed, 2015-02-18 15:59

McGill students are interning with a health and conservation centre and mobile clinic in Uganda’s Kibale National Park, one of many projects supported by the Seeds of Change crowdfunding initiative.

by Megan Martin

Only six months after launching, McGill’s new Seeds of Change crowdfunding platform has resulted in 12 fully-funded projects, and brought in $271,387 from more than 1,000 individual gifts to McGill. Put simply – it’s off to a good start.

The Seeds of Change website provides a virtual space to connect entrepreneurial McGill students working on philanthropic projects with people in the greater McGill community who want to promote the kind of generosity and growth that Seeds of Change allows for.

One of the best aspects of the platform is that it’s completely centered on students. Any student who is working on a project that reflects the University’s principles and is philanthropic in nature is welcome to apply to have their initiative posted on the site to help raise awareness and support.

“We want the platform to be viewed as a tool for students who are investing their time and energy into initiatives that make a difference on campus and throughout the world,” says McGill Annual Fund officer Melissa Forster. “We’re here to provide support to efforts that are in line with McGill’s values and help these amazing students reach their goals.”

In many ways, Seeds of Change is a catalyst, granting exposure and helping students achieve the goals they’ve set out for their philanthropic projects. Moreover, by providing participating students with access to the dynamic online platform, they’re are able to post updates throughout the duration of their campaigns, so that donors can track progress in real time; the result is an uniquely interactive experience between donors and the groups running the projects.

To date, Seeds of Change has supported a broad range of initiatives. The platform has already successfully funded projects for experiential learning and entrepreneurial experiences, mental health and wellness, and initiatives aimed at acquiring much needed equipment for a variety of faculties. The benefits of many of these projects can be felt far beyond the McGill gates, extending into the Montreal community.

For instance, one of the very first successful crowdfunding initiatives was the Strategic Planning and Community Involvement Fund, which provides support, funding, and resources for McGill medical students and student groups seeking to engage in community-based initiatives.

“SPCI is set up with a dual mission of both improving the function of the Medical Students’ Society as a student governance body, as well as empowering students in leading community initiatives,” says second-year medical student Amy Huang, the co-president of the SPCI committee. “In the past, SPCI has funded several successful initiatives such as Vitamin Sports, which organizes weekly sessions for elementary school kids to get active and be engaged in sports, as well as the Save the Mothers Walk/Run, which held its inaugural event in Montreal last May to raise funds for improving maternal and child health in developing countries.”

This year, SPCI will be funding community projects like the Indigenous Human Rights Conference and Oral Health for Veterans. The SPCI committee  has also recently started a special projects fund which is used to support initiatives that have a more academic focus, such as Global Surgery Conference and Dean and Advocacy.

Another project with a presence both on campus and within Montreal is the Engineers Without Borders (EWB) McGill Chapter initiative, which is presently active on the crowdfunding site. EWB McGill consists of teams of students aiming to make the next generation of graduates a group of conscious consumers, informed voters, socially responsible professionals and most importantly, leaders for positive change within the community.

“We have been depending on the funds raised from Seeds of Change to cover the costs of sending our selected junior fellows overseas to gain priceless experience,” says Chloe Grison, a civil engineering student and EWB McGill’s vice-president of fundraising. “The crowd funding platform this year has broadcasted our message even further while raising awareness of our campaign and EWB McGill’s other work.”

In addition to its junior fellowship program, EWB McGill hopes to expand its outreach efforts in the coming years, including its fair trade team, which works to raise support for small scale farmers and producers, and their youth engagement initiative, which addresses social issues in Montreal high schools.

The crowdfunding platform also has a slew of other initiatives up, including the Kibale project, which supports McGill students interning with a health and conservation centre and mobile clinic in Uganda’s Kibale National Park.

Forster says the Seeds of Change crowdfunding initiative appeals to donors interested in supporting causes at the grass-roots level.

“Donors are now able to give through McGill to sponsor the projects that are closest to their hearts,” says Forster. “It’s a completely new way to support students.”

For more information, visit Seeds of Change.

 

A school for spies and saboteurs

Wed, 2015-02-18 10:06
by Linda Sutherland

Evelyne Brochu (left) plays Aurora Luft, one of the lead characters in X Company, the CBC’s new Second World War adventure drama. The show’s co-creator, Stephanie Morgenstern, BA’88, says Luft is “a more gutsy version of me.”

As a successful TV producer and an accomplished screen, television and stage actor, Stephanie Morgenstern, BA’88, is at ease in front of the camera and behind it. But she readily admits that she will have first-night jitters when her latest television project –  X Company – premieres on CBC on February 18.

“I’m feeling really proud of the show, but I’ve got butterflies. You can never be sure how something will be received,” says Morgenstern, who co-created the series with her longtime collaborator – and husband – Mark Ellis. So far, the show is generating a lot of positive buzz. The Globe and Mail calls it “vastly entertaining.”

This is the second television series that Morgenstern and Ellis have created. Their first, a Toronto-based police drama called Flashpoint, ran for five seasons on CTV and CBS – it became the first Canadian TV drama set in Canada to air in prime time on an American network. The show earned a pile of prizes from the Canadian Screen Awards, including being named Best Dramatic TV Series in 2013.

Their new show is a World War II adventure drama that follows five highly skilled young recruits – Canadian, American and British – who have been trained at an elite international spy school that is modelled on the real-life Camp X, the first spy training facility in North America.

A top secret paramilitary and commando training installation, located on a farm near Whitby, Ontario, Camp X was established in 1941 through the cooperative efforts of the Canadian government and the British Security Coordination (BSC), headed up by spymaster extraordinaire, Sir William Stevenson.

A Canadian from Winnipeg, Stevenson was the real-life inspiration for the character of James Bond (007 author Ian Fleming was rumoured to have been a trainee at Camp X), and a close confidant of British prime minister Winston Churchill, who instructed him to create “the clenched fist that provides the knockout blow” to the Axis powers. Camp X was one punch of that fist.

“The show is set at the point in the war where Hitler’s forces were dominating Western Europe, and there was a real fear that they would prevail,” says Morgenstern. “The Allies knew that conventional warfare alone would not be enough for victory over the Nazi regime.  What they needed were secret agents, who could be dropped into enemy territory to gather intelligence, organize the resistance, and cause chaos through any means possible.”

Camp X opened on December 6, 1941, one day before the U.S. was forced into the war by the surprise attack on Pearl Harbour. This established it as not just an espionage boot camp for Britain, the U.S. and Canada, but also as a key international intelligence hub. So comprehensive and effective were its programs that Camp X became the secret training ground for agents from the FBI and the Office of Strategic Services (a predecessor of the CIA).

Like the more than 500 men and women who trained at Camp X, the five agents in X Company are proficient in a wide range of espionage activities, from sabotage, subversion, and surveillance, to burglary, interrogation, close combat, and assassination. We follow them as they parachute behind enemy lines, risking capture, torture and execution as they engineer one dangerous operation after another.

X Company‘s Alfred Graves has synesthesia, a brain condition he shares with his co-creator, Morgenstern.

Much of the action centers around Alfred Graves, a vulnerable young man with synesthesia, a brain condition that cross-wires his senses. This gives him a virtually infinite memory, which proves to be a powerful secret weapon in his line of business. “In creating the character of Alfred, I wanted to explore how someone with such extreme sensual awareness could function in a stressful environment like that of Camp X,” says Morgenstern, who, a number of years ago, discovered – quite by accident – that she has a certain type of synesthesia.

Morgenstern’s interest in exploring her characters’ emotional dimensions comes naturally; her father, Gert Morgenstern, BSc’54, MDCM’58, DipPsych’65,is a highly respected child psychiatrist who studied under Jean Piaget and practiced at McGill’s Douglas Mental Health University Institute for more than 20 years.

Fighting at Alfred’s side is Aurora Luft, the show’s fierce and feisty female protagonist, who, like Morgenstern, is half Jewish-German, half French Canadian.  “I think of Aurora as being a more gutsy version of me.”

Morgenstern is certainly no shrinking violet, especially when it comes to pursuing her dreams. At the age 12 she was already involved in acting. “I was part of a children’s theatre troupe, and we wrote and scored our own plays. It was a very empowering experience – realizing that words and music could come from me,” she recalled.

By the time she attended McGill, where she majored in English, taking film and German electives, Morgenstern was juggling her classes with work on French and English television. “Among the professors whose ideas influenced me were Paisley Livingston and Michael Bristol. Their courses focused on popular culture, and – as someone involved in the entertainment industry – I was very interested in investigating the underlying theory.”

Over the years, Morgenstern has appeared in films by some of Canada’s most accomplished directors. She played Alison in Atom Egoyan’s Oscar-nominated The Sweet Hereafter and Claire, a neurotic Norwegian grad student, in Denis Villeneuve’s Maelström. On stage, Morgenstern has played ingénues and leading ladies at the Stratford Festival, the Théâtre Français de Toronto, and the Globe Theatre in Calgary.

As a filmmaker, Morgenstern has twice been nominated for a Genie Award, first for directing the short film Remembrance (on which X Company is based), which she co-wrote and co-starred in with Mark Ellis, and the other for co-directing (with her brother Mark Morgenstern) the short film Curtains/Rideaux, which she also wrote and played the lead in.

Was she ever tempted to head south of the border after Flashpoint was picked up by a US television network? “No, not at all. I don’t consider working in Canada as a stepping stone to Hollywood,” says Morgenstern. “What we have produced here has the potential of selling in the U.S., but it has a uniquely Canadian perspective – one that sets us apart. I’m proud of that.”

 

 

The professor provocateur

Mon, 2015-02-16 13:53

Cleghorn Professor of Management Studies Henry Mintzberg (Photo: Owen Egan)

by Andrew Mullins

“Communism is the exploitation of man by man,” writes Henry Mintzberg, BEng’61, in his new book, Rebalancing Society, turning an old joke on its head: “Capitalism is the opposite.”

McGill’s Cleghorn Professor of Management Studies in the Desautels Faculty of Management, Mintzberg is one of the most highly regarded experts in his field and he has a long list of accolades to prove it – 15 honorary degrees, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Leadership Association and the distinction of being the first scholar specializing in management studies to be named a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. That said, he’s always been something of an iconoclast as well – he is a frequent critic of MBA programs and management education, and delights in lampooning the cult of corporate leadership.

Now in this latest work ­– subtitled “Radical Renewal Beyond Left, Right and Center” – he’s taking on a society that he says has been thrown out of balance, a crisis driven largely by unchecked capitalism and one which he argues is degrading our environment, our democracies and ourselves.

The book began life as a free e-pamphlet, published much in the spirit of the polemical pamphleteers of revolutionary America and France. While Mintzberg is not calling for revolution, from the opening pages, it’s clear he is not pleased with the state of our world.

“Enough of the pendulum politics of left and right,” he writes. “Enough of the economic globalization that undermines sovereign states and local communities.” There’s a sense that it’s a frustration that has been building over decades, and the book flags a historic milestone as a symbolic tipping point for what’s led us to our current state.

When the Berlin Wall crumbled in 1989, those hammer strokes meant freedom to the people of East Germany and the rapid collapse of communism. Some claimed they signalled the ultimate triumph of capitalism as well. Not so fast, says Mintzberg.

“Capitalism is not good because communism proved bad. Carried to their dogmatic limits, both are fatally flawed.”

He argues that we are reaching that limit with the system of “predatory capitalism” that has steadily flourished since 1989 and is now hijacking democracy.

Who’s to blame? Mintzberg’s vision is severe as he lays out a chronicle of widespread political corruption and a system of legally sanctioned bribery driven by lobbyists, corporate social and environmental irresponsibility, emasculated government that has lost the faith of the people, and a meek populace that acts mostly out of self-interest.

Do universities shoulder any responsibility, having educated many of those who are rigging the game? “A university degree is no guarantee of ethics,” he says, even if one tries to teach ethical behaviour.

“Every school is doing it, but they think if they introduce a class in corporate social responsibility that everybody’s going to become responsible. I think that’s naïve.”

Mintzberg instead lays out the path forward through what he dubs the “plural sector” – a label used to complement “public” and “private” sectors, not just because of the logical and alliterative punch it provides, but to brush away the fuzziness of terms like “third sector” or “civil society”.

The plural sector mostly gets hidden in plain sight, the oft-forgotten wallflower of today’s political discourse. But it’s made up of a sprawling and potentially powerful network of NGOs, foundations, co-ops, unions, universities, hospitals, small community groups, and broader grassroots and global movements for social change.

For Mintzberg, it is one of three essential pillars of a rebalanced society that includes a reimagined government whose role is respected rather than denigrated, and a vibrant private sector that is not ruled by corporate avarice and the day-trading whims of shareholders.

The radical renewal he calls for must begin in this plural sector, through social movements that challenge destructive practices, “the entitlements that lie behind these practices, and the dogma used to justify these practices.” To rebalance society, he says, these targeted social movements need to steer our governments back on track.

“Governments aren’t going to do it, businesses aren’t going to do it, and people are going to have to wake up if they care about their kids and their grandchildren,” Mintzberg says.

Where to start setting things right when so much seems wrong can appear overwhelming. One finance manager friend of Mintzberg’s certainly feels that way, leading to what he calls “the Irene question”: what can I do?

The answer is a lot. You can start by changing your own behaviour: look past personal entitlements, says Mintzberg, help a neighbour, join a community group.

Others may be able to effect change working from a broader base, like Dr. Joanne Liu, MDCM’91, IMHL’14. Liu is a graduate of Mintzberg’s International Master’s in Health Leadership program and now head of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) worldwide – thanks in part to the IMHL program, whose students helped build her leadership campaign. Liu and MSF were leading voices in the recent Ebola crisis, sounding the alarm against initial government inaction.

In addition to the important role such NGOs have to play, Mintzberg calls for “slingshot movements” to challenge the private sector and global corporations when they behave badly.

“David didn’t picket Goliath. Or write articles saying we really must do something about these giants. He brought down one giant.”

“I think we have to find intolerable behaviour and bring it down. And the way to bring it down is, for example, a total boycott on anything to do with that company. You do that a couple times and watch behaviours change rather dramatically.”

Another such slingshot attack Mintzberg cites is the case of Brazil taking on pharmaceutical companies over the exorbitant cost of HIV medications by threatening to break patents and manufacture the drugs themselves. Eventually the World Trade Organization conceded members should not be prevented by intellectual property rights from protecting public health. The UN Commission on Human Rights also sided with Brazil, unanimously agreeing that access to AIDS drugs were a human right, with only the U.S. abstaining from the vote.

Mintzberg has recently become active on Twitter and writes a blog that continues to explore aspects of the book and what he calls the Big Question: “How to consolidate the disparate efforts of the plural sector into a movement for radical renewal?” Next up is a MOOC he is preparing for Fall 2015 as part of McGillX called “Social Learning for Social Impact” that is intended to inspire more initiatives for social change.

He is modest about his influence but says even corporate culture is starting to pay attention. “I don’t get through to the mainstream, I’ve never been mainstream.  But I think there are a lot of people who appreciate my work – chief executives who approach me to say I really like what you’re doing.”

“I’m the tortoise against the hare. I think my stuff is gaining ground, but there’s an awful long way to go.”

 

Rebalancing Society and the original e-pamphlet are available through www.mintzberg.org. Follow Henry Mintzberg on Twitter @Mintzberg141.

For more information on the Social Learning for Social Impact MOOC, see the program site.

 

Exploring civil disobedience on the Internet

Fri, 2015-02-13 15:11
by Andrew Mahon

McGill doctoral student Molly Sauter’s new book examines the use of denial-of-service actions as a form of political activism (Photo: Owen Egan)

Molly Sauter recalls the family car trips of her youth and her younger brother’s habit of getting attention by saying, over and over again, “Hey Molly! Hey Molly! Hey Molly!”

“That’s a denial-of-service action,” explains Sauter, a doctoral student in McGill’s communication studies program whose research focuses on hacker culture, digital activism, and depictions of technology in the media. “In this instance, the younger sibling plays the part of a computer program targeting me (a website) over and over again until I can’t stand it and am unable to carry on conversations with others in the car. When you have several siblings doing this simultaneously, it becomes a Distributed Denial of Service or DDoS.”

The action of targeting computer servers or websites with multiple requests until an online service is disrupted and rendered inoperable is not new (it will be readily identified by Star Trek devotees as a tactic employed by Kirk and Spock to defeat an android/server named Norman).

“DDoS is a tool,” says Sauter, “and, as such, it can be used for extortion, harassment and censorship. There are no ethical safeguards built into the tactic.”

It’s also illegal. Participating in DDoS actions in Canada can lead to stiff fines and/or prison terms.  For Sauter, it’s the history and practice of DDoS as a tool of political activism which is intriguing and forms the basis of a recent book based on her research, The Coming Swarm: DDoS, Hactivism, and Civil Disobedience on the Internet.

Sauter’s formal introduction to DDoS began in 2010 while she was a research assistant at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard.  It was just after the granddaddy of DDoS actions: Operation Payback.  The Operation Payback chain of events went like this: WikiLeaks (along with a number of newspapers) began releasing classified documents originating from the U.S. Department of Defense; a number of financial institutions (including PayPal) then stopped processing donations to WikiLeaks; the loose-knit activist and hacker group, Anonymous, subsequently got involved and launched a number of DDoS actions against multiple websites including VISA, Paypal and Amazon.com.

“My boss told me it was my job to figure out just what was going on and how it happened,” says Sauter. “For me, that’s when DDoS got interesting.”

The history of DDoS spans at least two decades and the list of DDoSers includes individuals, groups, and governments. One of the first instances was the Strano Network Net Strike in 1995 which involved an Italian activist group (Strano) attacking the website of a French nuclear power company.  Since then there have been many DDoS actions against diverse targets including the online host of a Basque publication (in 1997), the World Trade Organization (WTO) websites during the globalization protests in 1999, and Lufthansa’s website homepage in 2001 (because of the airline’s role in the transportation of deported immigrants from Germany).

The common thread in these actions is the intentional disruption of commerce or business activities, a necessary and contentious facet of DDoS.

“People don’t like being disrupted,” says Sauter. “That’s understandable but it’s also what makes the tactic effective and powerful.”

Though DDoS is relatively novel, Sauter contends that its use as a tactic of civil disobedience fits within a centuries-long tradition of breaking laws and disrupting “business as usual” to make a point. It’s a tradition which includes the U.S. Civil Rights movement, anti-Vietnam War protests and even the Suffragette movement of the late 19th and early 20th century.

“If you compare some DDoS actions with tactics employed by Suffragettes, the reactions are not that different,” say Sauter. “One Suffragette in England interrupted the Epsom Derby by trying to attach a flag to a horse belonging to King George V. In the U.S., women chained themselves to the railings of the White House. Many people did not understand why women were doing these things, but Suffragettes engaged in those disruptive actions because they did not have a voice.”

In the same way, DDoS is often employed because it’s viewed as the only way to get an issue on the public agenda.  And, as with traditional acts of civil disobedience, DDoS actions are often accompanied by a larger campaign of activities (videos, social media, public relations, traditional protests etc.).

As for the future of DDoS, Sauter believes the tactic has a limited role and probably a limited lifespan.

“This will stay a fringe tactic because it’s illegal,” she says.  “I think DDoS will decline in popularity as a political tactic, but I believe it will remain as a low bar of entry for participation in political action online and civil disobedience.”

RELATED READING:

Uncovering the many faces of Anonymous

 

Windows to the past

Fri, 2015-02-13 12:05
by Linda Sutherland

McGill’s Hosmer Collection of pre-modern stained glass windows is the largest of its kind in Canada and the subject of a new book published by McGill-Queen’s University Press. (Photo: Owen Egan)

A new, lavishly illustrated book, The Stained Glass of the Hosmer Collection, McGill University, sheds light on one of McGill’s artistic treasures – a priceless collection of antique stained glass that is displayed in the Macdonald-Harrington Building, home to the School of Architecture and the School of Urban Planning.

The catalogue raisonné is the culmination of 39 years of scholarship by co-authors Ariane Isler-De Jongh and James Bugslag, and the first of three volumes exploring the history of stained glass in Canada. It is both an academic treatise on this important collection – the largest grouping of medieval stained glass in Canada – and a fascinating piece of scholarly detective work on the provenance of each of the 39 small-scale hand-painted medallions, most dating back the 16th and 17th centuries.

“King Herod and the Magi” dates back to the mid-17th century (Photo: Owen Egan)

“It is fitting that the Hosmer Collection should have found a home in a [School] of Architecture, since stained glass is a quintessentially architectural art – made to be installed in buildings,” said Bugslag, one of Canada’s most respected stained glass experts.

Originally created by various glass painters in present-day Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands, the works were removed from their original locations towards the end of the 18th century, when a revived interest in decorative stained glass created a new market for them. Many were acquired by dealers and sold to wealthy art lovers. By the end of the 19th century this practice had crossed the Atlantic, where it became fashionable for architects to install antique glass in the homes of prosperous nouveaux riches clients.

The stained glass works in the Hosmer Collection were purchased from a London art dealer by Edward Maxwell, one of Canada’s most renowned architects, who, in partnership with his brother William, was responsible for such Montreal landmarks as Windsor Station and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.  The Maxwell brothers also designed more than 30 magnificent mansions in the city’s most elite enclave of the time – the Golden Square Mile.

In 1901, Maxwell installed the works of stained glass in the mansion he built for Charles Rudolph Hosmer, one of the wealthiest inhabitants of this prestigious residential area. With its early Renaissance style exterior, made from imported red sandstone, and its sumptuously decorated interior, Hosmer House – located at 3630 upper Drummond St. (now Promenade Sir William Osler) – was considered the most flamboyant of the Maxwells’ grand city mansions, and a particularly ostentatious example of the style made fashionable by the Billionaire District of New York during the 1890s.

The centerpiece of the home’s Gothic-style dining room was a large triple window with transom featuring leaded glass into which some of the antique glass roundels had been placed. The remaining pieces of glass were incorporated into three windows overlooking the grand staircase.

Following Hosmer’s death in 1927, the mansion remained in the family until 1969, when it was bequeathed to McGill. Its formerly grand and lavishly decorated interiors were emptied and converted into classrooms for the School of Physical and Occupational Therapy. The windows in the dining room and staircase remained in place, largely because their value was by then long forgotten.

It was only in 1976 that the historical and artistic significance of this pre-modern stained glass was recognized. The discovery – initially met with skepticism – was made by Ariane Isler-de Jongh, a graduate student in art history at l’Université de Montréal, when she was touring Hosmer House with the Women Associates of McGill.

“The Resurrection of Christ” from the early 17th century (Photo: Owen Egan)

When her findings – which provide the scholarly foundation for this book – were made public two years later, an article in the McGill Reporter (25 January 1978) stated that: “the 39 medallions [were] apparently unnoticed for at least 75 years before someone pointed out that they were not just a conventional assortment of old coloured pieces of glass.”

Following their discovery, concern over the panels’ security was raised and they were removed for safekeeping. In 1987, after being conserved and restored, the glass panels were installed in various locations on the second, third and fourth floors of the Macdonald-Harrington Building. The most impressive of these is at the end of a third floor corridor, where the dining room window from Hosmer House is displayed in a back-lit cabinet.

“Art means a great deal to many of us at McGill,” says Wendy Owens, the director of McGill’s Visual Arts Collection. “Instead of being housed in a museum, this unique stained glass collection and the University’s thousands of art works – including paintings, prints, sculpture and drawings – are displayed across our two campuses, where they can be easily seen and appreciated by students, staff, alumni and visitors. McGill is a museum without walls.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

RELATED READING:

McGill’s public art collection is a feast for the eyes

Discover the McGill buildings that never were

 

A tale of two James McGills

Thu, 2015-02-12 15:23
by Andrew Mahon

Our James McGill

The name James McGill is synonymous with the famous trader, pioneer and philanthropist whose vision led to the creation of McGill University in 1821. However, the premiere of the Breaking Bad spin-off series, Better Call Saul — which became the highest-rated cable debut in US TV history featured another, somewhat less distinguished James “Jimmy” McGill (aka Saul Goodman).  In the interests of avoiding any confusion between the two McGills, we thought we’d offer our readers these useful tips to help them tell the two apart.

James McGill

Displayed a lifelong love of new ideas and studied at Glasgow University although he left university without completing a degree (likely due to his family’s poor fortunes).

James “Jimmy” McGill

Displayed a master of arts degree in political science from the University of American Samoa (an institution which does not exist).

James McGill

Established himself in North America and entered the rough-and-tumble world of the fur trade.

James “Jimmy” McGill

Established himself in a strip mall and entered the rough-and-tumble world of criminal law.

James McGill

Spent several years in almost constant danger, navigating the rivers and lakes of the Great Lakes frontier.

James “Jimmy” McGill

Spent several years in almost constant danger, navigating the drug dealers and kingpins of the criminal underworld.

James McGill

Settled in Montreal, Canada.

James “Jimmy” McGill

Settled in Omaha, Nebraska.

James McGill

He was a volunteer colonel with the Montreal militia, he led the defense of Montreal during the War of 1812. He served as a city magistrate for many years, making him part of a council that was the de facto government of Montreal at the time. He was also a member of a committee that reported on the need for a Legislative Assembly for the colony of Lower Canada, to which he would be elected three times.

James “Jimmy” McGill

He was a Cinnabon manager.

James McGill

His legacy was a bequest to the Royal Institute for the Advancement of Learning (RIAL) for the founding of a college which became the governing body for McGill College, which was officially established in 1821.

James “Jimmy” McGill

James “Jimmy” McGill

His legacy was a loan-out corporation called Ice Station Zebra Associates which was “totally legit.”

James McGill

Famous motto: Grandescunt Aucta Labore

(By work, all things increase and grow)

James “Jimmy” McGill

Famous motto: “Better call Saul!”

(Better call Saul!)

 

RELATED READING:

Make-believe McGillians: Meet some fictitious McGill grads who have turned up in books, on TV and in film.

 

How rethinking the food chain can thwart Ebola

Wed, 2015-02-04 12:30
by Louise Fabiani, BSc’80

One of the factors involved in the spread of the deadly Ebola virus is its ability to move from one species to another (Image: Istockphoto)

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 60 per cent of all human pathogens can be classified as zoonoses: bacteria, viruses, and other parasites that are transmitted from nonhuman animals to people. These include common childhood diseases like measles and chicken pox, as well as anthrax, rabies, SARS, malaria, toxoplasmosis, and TB. Furthermore, zoonoses comprise 75 per cent of all emerging infections. West Nile virus, Lyme Disease, and HIV are some infamous examples.

According to recent research, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which has caused almost 9,000 deaths so far, might have originated with insect-eating bats in Guinea. Scientists have long speculated that bats serve as Ebola’s reservoir—that is, the animal that maintains the virus in the ecosystem—with the disease spreading from reservoir (e.g., bat) to intermediary host (e.g., chimpanzee) to humans.

There is no doubt about the link between the deadly virus and indigenous wildlife, especially the nonhuman primates that are hunted in many African countries. The epidemiology of Ebola, like so many zoonoses, tells a complex tale of poverty, ravaged forests, slaughtered wildlife, insufficient health care, and tremendous misinformation.

Colin Chapman, McGill’s Canada Research Chair in Primate Ecology and Conservation, studies zoonoses and ecosystem health in Africa. His focus is on the great apes and monkeys of Uganda’s Kibale National Park, where he has worked for the past 25 years. In addition to his research projects with nonhuman primates, he has set up a clinic that is funded by McGill students and a mobile clinic (a modified ambulance shipped from Canada) that travels around the park. The best way to stop the spread of Ebola, he says, no matter where it arises, is to use mobile clinics to treat affected patients in their villages. The key is “diagnosing those people early, and thus containing the disease at the boundaries of parks, rather than having people getting [it and] saying, ‘I’m sick, I have to go to the capital city.’” Once infected individuals enter high-density areas, the virus has a much easier time finding new victims.

Screening at airports may make foreigners feel better, but it has little proven benefit.

To prevent the next pandemic, what’s desperately needed is the “one health” system Chapman espouses: “the health of people, the environment, and animals” studied together.

In this highly specialized world, it is a formidable challenge to coordinate seemingly disparate disciplines—including biology, anthropology, epidemiology, and virology—for a common cause, let alone to promote the idea that the human realm and the natural one are contiguous. But it has to be part of the next paradigm shift.

Chapman said that merely “reacting” to each crisis then “fixing” the transmission route will never work in the longer term. We need a predictive model, one that nips the problem in the bud, or prevents it from happening in the first place. That means employing ecological principles, as he outlined in a 2014 paper in Evolutionary Applications. Local people can be part of the ecosystem, not unnatural impositions on it.

At the same time, they also unwittingly tear the food web, allowing animal diseases to jump the species barrier previously kept in check by impenetrable forests or relatively low human population. The chain of Ebola transmission can start when someone handles fresh bushmeat (wild animals killed for human consumption), primarily local chimpanzees, which also get sick and die from the virus. Among Africans, bushmeat is more a cultural commodity than a source of sustenance, perhaps explaining its continued appeal to emigrants. It is exported—in tons annually—to places like Paris and New York, as luxury meat for expats. So we have “the legitimate right to close it down” says Chapman. “It’s… eaten by the rich: …people [who] don’t need the protein.”

Chapman warns that Ebola and related zoonoses will continue to flare up unless we address this issue.

The good news, says Chapman, is that the 2014 epidemic is making us more aware of the extent of the bushmeat trade. It is also forcing us to take emerging diseases more seriously.

Although we will eventually contain this outbreak, “it’s going to erupt again,” he says. “Let’s use this as a warning.”

 

Exhibition spotlights art icon’s sketchy past

Tue, 2015-01-20 15:10

One of the sketches by Group of Seven co-founder and former architecture professor Arthur Lismer currently being exhibited in the Rare Books and Special Collections Reading Room.

by Andrew Mahon

As exhibitions go, the items being displayed might strike some as curious – seven pieces of Faculty Club stationery, three napkins, an old library slip and a lecture program from 1949-1950.  However, these particular scraps of paper served as mini-canvases for Arthur Lismer, a faculty member at the School of Architecture in the forties and fifties who was also one of the most famous painters Canada has ever produced.

A founding member of the fabled Group of Seven, Lismer’s unique style and his depictions of scenes from the Maritimes and Georgian Bay are celebrated in museums across the country.  Lismer was also an accomplished McGillian. He joined the School of Architecture as a sessional lecturer in 1943 at the invitation of John Bland, the school’s director, and was appointed assistant professor in 1945. He taught the “History of Art and Theory of Design” and “Freehand Drawing” and led the Sketching School with Gordon Webber before retiring from the University in 1955.

During his time at McGill, Lismer was a keen observer of life on campus and recorded his astute – and often amusing –  impressions in the form of casual sketches. When McGill acquired one of these quirky works (an ink drawing on a framed napkin) last year, it was the cue for the McGill Library to take stock of the University’s existing collection of Lismer sketches and that, in turn, led to the preparation of the exhibition by assistant librarian Jennifer Garland, MLIS’07.

“Rare Books and Special Collections holds some 30 sketches from Lismer’s tenure at the University and into his retirement,” says Garland. “Many of the pieces depict campus life and capture aspects of McGill at a particular time in its history.”

Since opening in November 2014, the Lismer exhibition has attracted a diverse audience and resonates with many alumni.

“One visitor to the exhibition was a student of Lismer and was delighted to see his work,” says Garland. “He recalled Lismer as having a wry sense of humour and a real presence. Another visitor said that her family has one of his napkin sketches framed at home.”

Many of the sketches were made while Lismer dined at the Faculty Club, one of his regular haunts. They are the Instagrams of his day, rapid-fire renditions of fellow professors, campus locations and hot topics. There is a Parisian café-like sketch of the proposed library terrace and a depiction of a stained glass window in Redpath Hall.  The ‘new’ library tunnel generated two sketches. On one sketch [1953-1955], a sardonic annotation has been added: “we were talking about the new library tunnel and its misuses. If heads must roll, why not roll them in this tunnel?”

“A lot of the drawings are annotated, we believe, by Richard Pennington [University librarian, 1947-1964], to provide context for the conversation that inspired the drawing, and to identify the subjects in the portraits,” says Garland.

The same Pennington apparently objected to a fern-like plant which had been placed in the Faculty Club. In response, Lismer sketched an alternative, if somewhat racy, use for the plant (hint: think Benny Hill).

While the exhibition offers a selection of Lismer’s work, additional McGill sketches of and by Lismer hang in the Faculty Club. These are part of the McGill Visual Arts Collection, which also holds several Lismer paintings. Caricatures drawn on the plaster walls of the Arts Building East Wing, before renovations, are also documented in the McGill Archives. Garland says that the Library would like to continue researching Lismer’s McGill years and is considering creating a digital exhibition to be viewed online.

*****

‘Arthur Lismer’s McGill Sketchbook’ is on view in the Rare Books and Special Collections Reading Room, 4th floor, 3459 rue McTavish Montreal, until 1 March, 2015.  The Rare Books and Special Collections Reading Room is open Mondays – Fridays, 10am to 6pm.

 

Another date with the Academy

Tue, 2015-01-20 12:30

A scene from Torill Kove’s Oscar-nominated Me and My Moulton

by Daniel McCabe, BA’89

Oscar voters obviously have a soft spot for the gentle, quirky charms of Torill Kove’s films. Kove, MUP’89, recently scored another Academy Award nomination, as Me and My Moulton made the shortlist for Best Short Film (Animated). It’s the third Oscar nomination in that category for the Norwegian-born, Montreal-based Kove – her previous film, The Danish Poet, won the Oscar in 2007.

Schulich School of Music jazz studies professor Kevin Dean is a big fan of Kove’s work. “I think her stories are very emotionally rich and her drawing style [is] quite unique and beautiful.” He isn’t exactly unbiased in his appraisal – Kove is his wife and Dean supplies the musical scores for her celebrated films.

“It’s very convenient having the composer living under the same roof,” says Kove. “It’s very practical to be able to bounce ideas off each other about what might work. I really enjoy working with him. He just gets me.”

Filmmaker Torill Kove (Photo by Ida Meyn)

One of Canada’s top jazz trumpeters, Dean says his collaborations with Kove provide “a nice challenge and a change from what I usually do.” Me and My Moulton draws its inspiration from Kove’s childhood in Norway. “In this case, she was quite specific,” says Dean. “She wanted music similar to the music that was playing in Norway in the sixties. Her father really liked Hammond organist Jimmy Smith and played his records a lot. Since I play a bit of organ, it was easy to use the Hammond as a sort of soundscape focal point – and easy to write a few things and run them by her to see what she liked. Overall, I just try to write music that enhances the mood without being intrusive.”

“The film definitely has autobiographical elements,” acknowledges Kove. Me and My Moulton focuses on a young girl and her (and her sisters’) desire for a bike, her occasional exasperation with her loving, but unconventional parents, and the realization that the seemingly perfect lives of her neighbours aren’t so perfect after all. One of the film’s funniest sequences involves the sisters repeatedly tumbling off the family’s stylish, but tippy chairs.

“We really did fall off chairs, I did wish we had a stay-at-home mom and I was embarrassed by my father’s moustache,” says Kove of some of the film’s plot points. Her frustrated young narrator declares, “Ten thousand men in our town, one single moustache – and it has to be on my dad.” Were moustaches really so rare in Kove’s Norwegian neighbourhood?

“Oh, yes,” confirms Kove. “I clearly remember events at my school and as my dad was coming down the street, boys would be gathered at the windows, saying, ‘He is there! The guy with the moustache!’”

Producer Lise Fearnley has worked with Kove on the animator’s last two films, including Me and My Moulton. “She has a very warm sense of humour and her stories always have many layers,” says Fearnley.

Kove studied urban planning at McGill in the eighties. “What you learn in urban planning is how to have an interdisciplinary approach to your work, how to collaborate with other people and how to think in big pictures. I only worked in urban planning for a short time, but I feel I use those skills every day.”

While the Oscar attention is nice, Kove says the real pleasure in being an animator comes from doing her work. “You get to build your own world. It takes a long time to get a film finished, but you get to build a bit of it every day and that’s very gratifying. I also really enjoy the collaborative aspect to it.”

Kove has worked with the National Film Board of Canada on her three Oscar-nominated films and she is grateful to have the NFB supporting her efforts.

“The NFB doesn’t have a mandate to make a huge profit, so it’s possible to do some risk-taking. It can be a very different experience when you’re working with producers whose livelihoods depend on the productions doing well [financially].”

Kove’s films tend to straightforward. “I like to be clear. Some animated filmmakers challenge their audiences with a more obscure approach and that’s a legitimate way to go. There are many movies made in Montreal, at the NFB and elsewhere, that do different things with a more abstract approach, an almost impressionistic non-narrative approach. Those films don’t typically get noticed at the Oscars, but I want to wave the flag for them because [filmmakers] all learn a lot of lessons from them.”

She says she is looking forward to some of the more unheralded aspects to the Oscar ceremonies next month. “There is a tour for the animators. We all drive around in a van and go off to Pixar, Disney and Dreamworks. It’s an opportunity to meet the animators working in those places. There is another event organized by the Academy where all the nominated short films are screened and I’ll get to meet the other nominees.”

Dean muses about Oscar encounters of a different sort. “I remember standing shoulder-to-shoulder [in the men's washroom] with Michael Caine the last time Torill was nominated. It is always fun when one runs into the famous or infamous in that situation, and it’s a good story for the relatives back in Iowa.”

RELATED READING:

And the Oscar goes to… Torill Kove, MUP’89, for The Danish Poet.

Meet five McGill graduates with the most important behind-the-scenes jobs in the film industry–producers

 

The economy and the environment: Do we have to choose?

Mon, 2015-01-19 12:20

Associate professor of economics Christopher Ragan chairs Canada’s new Ecofiscal Commission (Photo: Owen Egan)

As a former adviser to both the Canadian finance minister and the governor of the Bank of Canada, McGill associate professor of economics Chris Ragan is no stranger to government policy. As the chair of Canada’s new Ecofiscal Commission, his next challenge will be to influence policy in an era of growing environmental challenges.

The commission was officially launched in November, boasting a group of 11 top economists from across the country and an advisory board that includes a former prime minister (Paul Martin) three former premiers (Jean Charest, Mike Harcourt and Bob Rae) and a former leader of the official opposition (Preston Manning).

The group’s funding comes from private donors — which should safeguard it from the fate of some Royal Commissions which were summarily shelved, with their reports gathering dust on those proverbial shelves. The commission is not beholden to any government, but it is committed, over the next six years, to providing practical solutions to many of the ecological and pollution problems faced by governments across Canada. They plan to release a new report roughly every four months.

The commission’s first report, on carbon pricing, has already spurred considerable reaction and debate from many sides of the political fence.

McGill News contributer Sylvain Comeau recently sat down with Ragan to get the scoop on the new commission.

Can you define the term ecofiscal?

Ecofiscal policies are those which can improve the economy and the environment at the same time. [For example] we are talking about pricing various kinds of pollution, and then recycling these revenues back into the economy, to generate further economic benefits.

Our biggest obstacle is confronting the mindset that you can’t have a better economy and a better environment at the same time. If there is a single idea that has brought our members together, it’s the idea that we can do better, both economically and environmentally, through ecofiscal policies.

There are fiscal structures, at the federal, provincial, and municipal levels, that are pushing us in the wrong direction. They don’t attach a price to pollution, so they are effectively encouraging pollution. But they do tax income, profits and innovation — even though we want more of these things, not less.

We need to correct this imbalance, rejigging the fiscal structure, so that we discourage pollution and encourage what we want.

So we need to move away from the notion that the economy and the environment are always in conflict? Is that a myth?

Yes, it is a popular myth. But increasing evidence suggests that there is no tradeoff between the two; a healthy and clean environment is a foundation for a strong economy. Canadians are starting to recognize that there are massive economic costs associated with damage to the environment.

Here is just one estimate, from the Canadian Medical Association: over the next 20 years, the health costs from air pollutants alone will be over $200 billion dollars. That doesn’t even count the cost of lost productivity from people who can’t go to work because they are sick, or the cost of cleaning up the environment.

Ecofiscal policies aim to reduce this environmental damage, as well as the resultant economic costs.

There are a lot of big names on the commission. Is that to raise the profile of the group, or because they have a lot to contribute?

We have 14 exceptional Canadians on our advisory board. They are from business, civil society, environmental groups, and from across the political spectrum. They can offer advice from their regions, from their different perspectives, and, yes, also raise our profile.

But, because they span the Canadian space, they also help convey the message that ecofiscal reform is something that all Canadians can get behind. This is not about Conservatives versus Liberals, business vs. labour, right vs. left or east vs. west. This is about sensible policy.

There are 11 economists in the group. Twenty or 30 years ago, would economists have paid this much attention to environmental protection?

I don’t think that a group of economists would have done this 30 years ago. That reflects the changing viewpoint over time, and the fact that, decades ago, we had fewer environmental challenges.

It’s really important that this commission be driven by economists; it’s not just the message, but the messengers. When a group of very experienced, policy-savvy economists stand up and say ‘good environmental policy is actually good for the economy’, hopefully people will pay attention.

Your first report, in November, was about carbon pricing. In many media and Internet reactions to the report, people were saying that the commission is calling for carbon taxes. What’s the difference between carbon pricing and carbon taxes?

Carbon pricing means that a price is attached to the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. That price can be created through a tax, through a cap and trade system (in which greenhouse gas emitting companies must buy credits from the government, with the funds funneled into green technology) or a hybrid of the two. So it doesn’t have to be accomplished through a tax. And when we write our reports on carbon, we will address the pros and cons of different pricing mechanisms.

Our commission is directed at pollution pricing in general, which includes carbon, but also includes many other kinds of pollution. However, the media focused pretty quickly on carbon. That’s just the nature of the public debate today. I keep reminding people that there are a lot of environmental challenges which have nothing to do with carbon. We want to address those as well.

Why are some Canadians so opposed to carbon taxes or pricing? Do they see it as adding to their tax burden?

One of the key points of the ecofiscal approach is that we are not advocating an overall increase in the tax burden, nor in the scale of government. I would argue that most opponents of pollution pricing would change their minds if they saw their personal income tax lowered accordingly. Then what do you do with the revenues generated by pollution pricing? You can lower taxes, you can give the money back to families, or you can finance critical infrastructure upgrades. That’s a central part of ecofiscal reform.

We feel that Canadians shouldn’t be indifferent to how our governments raise revenues. Compared to income or payroll taxes, pricing pollution is far less damaging to the economy. If we replace income tax revenue with pollution pricing revenue, we can maintain the current size of the government while changing behaviour quite markedly. We would provide incentives for companies to pollute less, and invest in green technology. We would also gain economic benefits from the reduction of personal income tax.

Besides carbon, the commission is planning to tackle issues such as municipal waste, traffic congestion, and air and water quality. Can you tell us about some of these?

We will be viewing these through the lens of ecofiscal policies. Water use is a good example. Under the current system, you pay a flat fee for water use, and then use as much water as you want. An ecofiscal view would say that this encourages a tremendous amount of waste. Why not price it per litre or 100 litres of water, and then reduce city taxes? Some cities have tried this and found, unsurprisingly, that people will conserve much more water.

So ecofiscal policies are incentives-based.

Yes, and they have become necessary because of the increasing scarcity of resources. Look at the example of traffic congestion. Sometimes we get 90-minute traffic jams in Toronto or Montreal. What is the scarce resource?  Road space. And when people are spending enormous amounts of time white-knuckling it in their cars, that’s a massive economic cost.

The ecofiscal solution is road pricing. London, England introduced road pricing in its high traffic congestion zone, in the middle of the city. If you drive there, you have to pay. What happened? Traffic in that area dropped dramatically.

I think Canada is actually behind many other countries, in terms of ecofiscal policies. Singapore introduced water pricing, with the money being redistributed to the lowest income households. Denmark introduced carbon pricing as an overall reform of their tax system.

Are there many hurdles to overcome before ecofiscal policies can become commonplace in Canada?

People think there are lots of obstacles, and that it will be controversial. But this is not the first time Canadians have come together to debate controversial policy decisions. For example, the creation of public health care in the sixties and seventies, the Canada Pension Plan in the sixties, and Free Trade in the eighties. The latest battle, in the nineties, was over deficit reduction.

Today, all of these are viewed as essential parts of our policy landscape.

Ecofiscal reform is the next great policy opportunity. It will be controversial, and that’s okay. But I think there are a lot of potential benefits, and it’s time we started the discussion.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

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Economics professor Tom Naylor is not afraid to court controversy.

 

How Samir became Sugar Sammy

Wed, 2015-01-14 16:14
by Brendan Kelly, BA’85

He is still one course shy of completing his McGill degree in cultural studies, but Samir Khullar did pick up a new nickname while he was at McGill. It seems to be working out for him.

McGill can take some small credit for its role in the Sugar Sammy phenomenon. The Montreal stand-up comic, who has shaken up the cultural milieu with his bilingual wisecracking, actually began his entertainment career while he was a cultural studies student at McGill in the late nineties. It was during his McGill studies that Samir Khullar picked up the moniker ‘Sugar Sammy.’

Though he never finished the degree — he says he is still one course shy of graduating — Sammy enjoyed his time at McGill. “I loved it. I had so many friends there. It was a great experience. I feel like going back some day, maybe to do an executive MBA when I have time. Right now I have zero time to do this.”

When he was at McGill, the way he paid for his expenses was by throwing parties at clubs on St. Laurent Blvd. and his target market was McGill students. So he’d spread the word about the parties in the McGill Ghetto and on the downtown campus. Some of Sammy’s earliest comedy routines made their debuts at these parties.

“This was before the Internet,” says Sammy. “So there were posters. There were flyers. There was word-of-mouth. There were different groups I was part of. I was part of this fraternity. When I invited the girls from school, I used to let them in for free and have them drink for free and take care of them, and they’d all keep coming back to my parties and they gave me the nickname ‘Sugar Sammy.’” The name stuck.  “It’s a good move [to let the women in for free] because the guys will pay whatever.”

The parties proved to be profitable. “I paid my tuition and then some. Instead of going out and protesting student fees, I was like – ‘Why don’t I find my own way?’ And it helped me find out how to produce my own shows.”

That indie do-it-yourself approach helped Sammy when he started up the absurdly-popular “You’re Gonna Rire” show. He pitched the idea of a bilingual comedy show to promoters and without exception, all the established players in the laughs biz told him it would never fly, that neither francophones nor anglophones were ready for a stand-up gig half in the language of Deschamps and half in the language of Seinfeld.

So Sammy set up his own company, Sugarnation, and did it himself, with the Canadiens-owned promoter Evenko eventually partnering with him.

The industry players were so wrong. Since it debuted at the Olympia Theatre in February, 2012, Sammy has been packing the 1,300-capacity hall on St. Catherine St. East ever since. He has sold 285,000 tickets, for the bilingual “You’re Gonna Rire” and the all-French “En français svp!” In the spring of last year, American trade newspaper Billboard reported that Sugar Sammy was the top-grossing domestic artist in Canada over the past 12 months, outselling artists like Billy Talent and Blue Rodeo.

But it’s not just about ticket sales. Sammy, as much as anyone, represents the changing face of Quebec, literally and figuratively. Due to Bill 101, this Côte-des-Neiges product of Indian origins was forced to go to French school, which is why he’s fluently bilingual, and though he is an unabashed federalist who loves to skewer hardcore Quebec nationalists, Sammy is proud to be the poster boy for the society created by Bill 101. He didn’t grow up in the same world as the anglophones and francophones of the pre-Bill-101 era who lived in entirely separate communities and all-too-often looked at each other with suspicion.

That new reality is a big part of his comedy.

“I love the fact that people are saying [my show] is a good example of [the post Bill 101 reality] because you actually see anglophones and francophones hanging out together in one room and being interested in the same things,” says Sammy. “Maybe we’re forming a common culture together that was pretty split-up before. On the other hand, because I’m doing this, some people are accusing me of being a threat to Québécois culture because I no longer see Quebec as being [simply] white francophone. I think it’s part of the richness of this society that we have and we have to appreciate it rather than seeing it as a threat.

“What I communicate in my shows is who I am and how I grew up. I’m just being honest. I’m not trying to change Quebec for the worse. I’m trying to represent who I am. And people appreciate seeing something different on TV and on stage. Comedians are like the anthropologists of society. We look at society and we report back to our audience about it in a funny way. I feel there’s a benefit to being bilingual and multilingual.”

Some still see Sammy as a confrontational figure. Just look at the furor in some of the French media following his recent advertising campaign that included provocative ads in the metro featuring prominent English text — basically pleading for someone to file a complaint with the Office de la langue française. (Someone did.) But on the flip side, Ces gars-là, the TV comedy he created with filmmaker Simon Olivier Fecteau, was a big hit on the V network and, in what was a first for the French-language TV milieu ici, was popular with both anglo and franco audiences. The concept of the show is to generate laughs via the cross-cultural tension created by this duo made up of a bilingual guy of Indian origin and a white francophone.

“It’s no longer francophones versus anglophones,” said Sammy. “There are still some people hanging on to keeping the two sides apart. But I’m not part of that.”

“You’re Gonna Rire” continues at the Olympia Theatre, while the second season of Ces gars-là will premiere on V on February 9.

RELATED READING:

You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince. Comedian Ophira Eisenberg, BA’95, did a lot more than just kissing.

A pair of McGillians play crucial roles on the frank and funny TV series Mohawk Girls

 

In memoriam – Fall/Winter 2014

Tue, 2015-01-13 16:34

1930s

ANNA TRITT SILVER, BA’32,
at Montreal, on June 19, 2014.

MARGARET MCKAY SHELDON, BA’33,
at Rutland, Ver., on May 19, 2014.

WILLIAM MAXWELL TAIT, BA’34, MDCM’39,
at Vancouver, B.C., on July 28, 1998.

GEORGE GREMPLE HART, BSc’39, MDCM’41,
at Lake Placid, N.Y., on May 13, 2014.

B. SEYMOUR RABINOVITCH, BSc’39, PhD’42,
at Seattle, Wash., on August 2, 2014.

1940s

KERR LACHLAN WHITE, BA’40, MDCM’49,
at Charlottesville, Va., on July 22, 2014.

JACK GOTTHEIL, BA’41,
at Montreal, on September 26, 2014.

STELLA HAMILTON, BA’41,
at Toronto, on April 12, 2014.

THOMAS L. CHOWN, BCom’42,
at Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Que., on May 20, 2014.

MARGARET PATRICIA DAVIES, BA’42,
at Ottawa, on July 15, 2014.

ANGELA BURKE-KERRIGAN, BA’42,
at Knowlton, Que., on September 30, 2014.

CHARLES G. RAND, MDCM’42, DipTropMed’50,
at Kitchener, Ont., on May 1, 2014.

DONALD W. TULLY, BSc’43,
at West Vancouver, B.C., on May 29, 2014.

 

Gerald Hatch (left), BEng’44, DSc’90, had a rare combination of skills. Blessed with an inventive mind, he had a PhD from MIT and several patents to his name. He was also able to take in the big picture and understand the many varied challenges involved in launching major engineering projects. Starting with just five employees, his engineering consulting business grew into a prosperous company with an international reach, employing more than 12,000 staff in 65 offices on six continents. An inductee of both the Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame and the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame, Hatch was a generous philanthropist, donating more than $5.8 million to support research, scholarships and graduate fellowships at McGill, mostly in the Faculty of Engineering.  He died on June 9 in Toronto.

ROLF DUSCHENES, BArch’45,
at Saint John, N.B., on June 23, 2014.

MERRILL E. NESSETH, BSc’45, MDCM’47,
at Windsor, Ont., on October 24, 2014.

IVAN M. SPEAR, MDCM’45,
at Worcester, Mass., on October 18, 2014.

JANET ELDER, BA’46, BLS’47,
at Montreal, on July 8, 2014.

HENRY M. MARCOVITZ, BCom’46,
at Montreal, on October 7, 2014.

ROBERT A. MACBETH, MSc’47,
on June 17, 2014.

DONALD A. REDMOND, BLS’47,
at Kingston, Ont., on October 22, 2014.

 

Before attending university, William Tetley, BA’48, served as a midshipman with the Royal Canadian Navy. The sea would also play a major role in his academic career as he became a world-renowned authority on maritime law. One of his books, Marine Cargo Claims IV Ed., received the Canadian Bar Association’s Walter S. Owen Book Prize for the best book in law in the English language. A former chair of the International Maritime Arbitration Organization, he also served as a cabinet minister in the Quebec government from 1970 to 1976 and introduced the province’s first consumer protection act. A professor of law at McGill since 1976, Tetley received his Faculty’s F.R. Scott Award for Distinguished Contribution in recognition of his many achievements. He died on July 1, in Montreal.

J. GORDON BARRINGTON, BA’48
at Murrieta, Calif., on April 8, 2011.

ROY V. JACKSON, BCL’48,
at Wilmington, Del., on September 3, 2014.

MARY PATRICIA O’NEILL, BLS’48, MLS’69,
at Halifax, N.S., on October 5, 2014.

SYLVIA ONESTI RICHARDSON, MDCM’48,
at Tampa, Fla., on October 24, 2014.

LLOYD GEORGE STEPHENS-NEWSHAM, PhD’48,
at Toronto, on July 29, 2014.

RICHARD TREMAINE, BSc’48,
at Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Que., on September 20, 2014.

GERARD MICHEL BOISSONNEAULT, BEng’49,
at Ottawa, on October 11, 2014.

REV. FRANK P. GILMORE, BA’49, BD’52,
at Kirkland, Que., on June 12, 2014.

BERNARD LANG, BEng’49, MEng’53,
at Montreal, on June 12, 2014.

ROLAND LOISELLE, BSc(Arg)’49, MSc’51,
at Navan, Ont., on April 22, 2014.

ELIZABETH DOREEN LOOSMORE, BSc’49,
at Victoria, B.C., on February 9, 2014.

SYDNEY PHILLIPS, BCL’49,
at Toronto, on November 12, 2013.

NATHAN STOLOW, BSc’49,
at Williamsburg, VA, on October 28, 2014.

1950s

JOHN B. CLAXTON, BCL’50,
at Montreal, on October 12, 2014.

MARY SKELTON LANDRY, BA’50,
at Montreal, on May 5, 2014.

HARDING E. BISHOP, BSc’51,
at Toronto, on August 8, 2014.

PETER W. CASE, BSc(Agr)’51,
at Stratford, Ont., on July 17, 2014.

FRANK FREDERICK HUBSCHER, BCL’51, LLM’53,
at Laguna Niguel, Calif., on August 29, 2013.

RICHARD F. KENNEDY, MDCM’51, Dip.Surg’57,
at St. John’s, Nfld., on April 11, 2014.

MABEL ORR MCVITTIE, BSc’51,
at Ventura, Calif., on June 14, 2014.

KENNETH H SANFORD, BSc(Agr)’51, MSc’63,
at Kentville, N.S., on June 11, 2014.

LUBA SLUZAR POPE, LMus’51, BMus’56,
at Ottawa, on September 10, 2014.

PATRICK STOKER, BArch’51,
at Montreal, on July 5, 2014.

JOHN M. F. GAREAU, BSc’52,
at Calgary, Alta., on July 30, 2014.

JOHN R. HUCKELL, MDCM’52,
at Edmonton, Alta., on July 1, 2014.

BERNARD LEDERMAN, BEng’52,
at Montreal, on August 29, 2014.

MARGARET A. MULLIGAN, BSc(HEc)’52,
at Ottawa, on July 31, 2014.

THOMAS INGLIS PAUL, BCom’52,
at Toronto, on September 3, 2014.

In 1953, Yves Clermont, PhD’53, and his McGill colleague and mentor C.P. Leblond published a landmark research paper that focused on the first identified population of stem cells — indeed, the paper marked the first use of the phrase “stem cells” in biological science. Clermont would also make invaluable contributions to our understanding of how sperm cells develop. A gifted scientist, he was also a dedicated teacher, winning the Faculty of Medicine’s Osler Award for Teaching in 1990. According to Jennifer Lippincott Schwartz, the president of the American Association for Cell Biology, Clermont was “a great scientist, his knowledge is not replaceable.” The emeritus professor of anatomy and cell biology died on October 10 in Montreal.

DAVID TENCER, BCom’53,
at St. Andrews, N.B., on September 18, 2014.

GEORGE CANN, BEng’54,
at Newmarket, Ont., on April 4, 2014.

PIERRE N. DUFRESNE, BEng’54,
at Ste-Adèle, Que., on June 25, 2014.

SOLOMON S. GOSSACK, BCL’54,
at Montreal, on September 1, 2014.

ARGODS B. LIEPINS, BArch’54,
at Ottawa, on October 14, 2014.

DONALD F. ROSS, DipEd’54,
at Montreal, on October 18, 2014.

E. DEANE WEEKS, BSc’54,
at Toronto, on May 8, 2014.

EARL VINCENT DUNN, BSc’55, MDCM’60,
at North York, Ont., on September 3, 2014.

GEORGE B. PAYNE, BEng’55,
at Toronto, on August 20, 2014.

ALBERT M. ROGERS, MDCM’55,
at Rockland, Me., on September 10, 2014.

ALAN C. WEBSTER, DipAgr’55,
at Cowansville, Que., on July 27, 2014.

ALAN W. ZELLER, MDCM’55,
at New Harbor, Me., on May 4, 2014.

C. BRANDON CHENAULT, MDCM’56,
at Texas, on September 16, 2014.

DAVID B. GEORGE, BSc(Agr)’56,
at Guelph, Ont., October 4, 2014.

CHRISTOPHER C. HART, BEng’56,
at Cobourg, Ont., on June 17, 2014.

ANDREW HRNCHIAR, BSc’56, MDCM’58,
at Ottawa, on October 25, 2014.

MARION “JUNE” MCDONALD, MSc’56,
at Toronto, on October 2, 2014.

JOHN HEBERT STANDISH, DipAgr’56,
at Rougemont, Que., on June 2, 2014.

EUGENIJUS A. DAINIUS, BEng’57,
at Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Que., on September 25, 2014.

CHARLES FERGUSON, MDCM’57,
at Winnipeg, Man., on August 19, 2014.

EDWARD J. ROACH, BSc’57,
at Sechelt, B.C., on October 12, 2014.

CAROL ROWAT, BSc’57,
at Montreal, on June 12, 2014.

ROBERT T. MERKI, MDCM’58,
at Millville, N.J., on June 13, 2014.

EDWARD R. RAPATZ, MDCM’58,
at Sacramento, Calif., on June 18, 2014.

PAUL C. SCHEIER, DDS’58,
at Orchard Park, N.Y., on July 26, 2014.

MICHAEL E. A. SHAW, BSc(Agr)’58,
at Ocho Rios, Caribbean, on July 22, 2014.

STANLEY E. BEACOM, PhD’59,
at Melfort, Sask., on June 17, 2014.

ROBERT J. GALL, BSc’59, MDCM’63,
at Toronto, on July 5, 2014.

WILLIAM LUDEMANN, MDCM’59,
at Nashville, Tenn., on February 16, 2014.

1960s

PAUL G. DYMENT, MDCM’60,
at Topsham, Me., on July 31, 2014.

MOHANDAS M. KINI, PhD’60,
at San Francisco, Calif., on September 24, 2014.

BETTY J. SECORD, BN’60,
at Saskatoon, Sask., on September 28, 2014.

CECILE SOLOMON, BA’60, MA’71, BCL’76, LLB’77,
at Montreal, on September 18, 2014.

JOHN H. SAIKI, MDCM’61,
at Albuquerque, N.M., on August 8, 2014.

ABRAM BER, BSc’62, MDCM’66, GradDipMed’71,
at Arizona, in June, 2014.

ERIC BIERMAN, BEng’62,
at Ottawa, on July 13, 2014.

RONALD CAYNE, BSc’62, MEd’67,
at Montreal, on October 3, 2014.

MEREDITH M. SILVER, MSc’62,
at Toronto, on April 25, 2014.

JOHN PETER SULLIVAN, MDCM’62,
at Phoenix, Ariz., on October 26, 2014.

STEPHANIE GARNER, BA’63,
at Montreal, on May 29, 2014.

 

In 2008, the McGill Cancer Centre received a new name to pay tribute to a transformational multi-million dollar gift from Rosalind Goodman, BA’63, LLD’11, and her husband, Morris Goodman, LLD’11. As generous as that donation was, Goodman wasn’t someone who simply wrote checks to good causes. She seized every opportunity to champion the research going on at the Goodman Centre and was the driving force behind its popular annual lecture series and the hugely successful galas that raised more than $6 million in support for the centre. “Rosalind Goodman had a special ability to inspire the people around her,” said Principal Suzanne Fortier. Goodman passed away in Montreal on August 11.

 

E.A. (TED) MACDONALD, BArch’63,
at Belleville, Ont., on August 8, 2014.

CHARLES SEAMONE, BArch’63,
at Nanaimo, B.C., on November 19, 2013.

JOHN T. CHAFFEY, MDCM’64,
at Bend, Ore., on May 21, 2014.

GARRY NORRIS, MSW’64,
at Kenora, Ont., on May 27, 2014.

ANDREW BERCZI, MBA’65, PhD’72,
at Waterloo, Ont., on June 14, 2014.

MAURICE BORTS, MBA’65,
on August 22, 2014.

JUDITH FISH, BA’65, MEd’82,
at Montreal, on August 31, 2014.

SUSAN GOLDMAN, BA’65, MSc(A)’67,
at Gatineau, Que. on August 17, 2014.

GEORGE CHEHADE SABA, BA’65, MA’67,
at Beaconsfield, Que., on October 22, 2014

SUSAN COUTURE, DipEd’66,
on July 16, 2014.

RUDI H. HENNING, BSc’66,
at Toronto, in February, 2014.

HELEN SHAFIG MINA, MSc(A)’67,
at Montreal, on October 27, 2014.

BRENDAN V. BOYLAN, MSc’68, PhD’74,
at Dublin, on July 7, 2013.

MARSHALL FINKEL, BSc’68, MDCM’72,
at Delray Beach, Fla., on April 22, 2014.

PHILLIP A. ROSSY, BSc’68, PhD’73,
at Westwood, N.J., on August 19, 2014.

IAN G. LUMSDEN, BA’68,
at Fredericton, N.B., on June 5, 2014.

NORA MALOUF, BA’68,
at Montreal, on July 19, 2014.

GEORGE R. RADWANSKI, BA’68, BCL’71,
at Toronto, on September 18, 2014.

GEORGE M. GRIFFITHS, DDS’69,
at Toledo, Ont., on September 21, 2014.

CHENG-TZU THOMAS HSU, MEng’69, PhD’74,
at Red Bank, N.J., on July 31, 2014.

BEN A. WESHLER, BCom’69,
at Cote St-Luc, Que., on July 14, 2014.

1970s

KWABENA KYEI-ABOAGYE, MSc’71, PhD’72, MDCM’78,
at Tamale, Ghana, on July 24, 2014.

MARC AMZALLAG, MA’71,
at Montreal, on July 11, 2014.

EDWARD V. CHAFFEY, DipEd’72, BEd’76,
Dip ColTeach’90, on June 17, 2014.

JAMES F. SYMES, MSc’73,
at Nantucket, Mass., on August 31, 2014.

GLENN RIOUX, BCom’78, DPA’80, MMgmt’04,
at Montreal, on September 27, 2014.

ELIZABETH COMPER, MLS’79,
at Toronto, on August 22, 2014.

GIANNI GIOSEFFINI, BEng’79, MEng’81, MBA’85,
at Ottawa, on July 8, 2014.

1980s

CYNTHIA GORDON, CertEd’74, BEd’81,
at Brossard, Que., on January 21, 2014.

DIANE VAUTOUR, BA’82,
at Nanaimo, B.C., on September 17, 2014.

EUNICE A. TEES, BA’83, MA’88,
at Montreal, on June 19, 2014.

CESAR DUBLER, LLM’84,
at Fribourg, Switzerland, on June 9, 2013.

SHIRLEY JACKSON, BEd’84,
at Richmond Hill, Ont., on July 16, 2014.

ANN FINDLAY REDFERN, BA’86,
at Hudson, Que., on October 19, 2014.

JUNE PLAMONDON, BA’89,
at Oakville, Ont., on July 17, 2014.

1990s

JUAN CARLOS MASNAGHETTI, BEng’90,
at Montreal, in October, 2014.

BEVERLY MARILYN BRONFMAN, MA’92, PhD’99,
at Montreal, on June 15, 2014.

SHU-LING CHEN, BSW’92, MSW’93, PhD’07,
at Montreal, on July 29, 2014.

FABRICE ROUAH, MSc’98, PhD’07,
on September 14, 2014.

JENNIFER RESSA ZIMMER, BA’98,
at Halifax, N.S., on September 20, 2014.

2000s

ELISE PAULA ZACK, MMgmt’03,
at Toronto, on July 31, 2014.

MARIKA ARCHAMBAULT-WALLENBURG, BSc’08,
at Toronto, on July 20, 2014.

FACULTY, STAFF & GOVERNORS

A longtime professor of law at McGill, Patrick Glenn was one of the world’s most respected authorities on comparative law. The first non-American to be named president of the American Society of Comparative Law, his expertise was sought on projects ranging from civil code reform in Russia to judicial education in China. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Glenn was awarded the Prix Léon-Gérin by the Quebec government in 2006 in recognition of his outstanding contributions to scholarship in the social sciences. He died in Montreal on October 1.

 

 

JACK COHEN, BSc’55, MDCM’59, faculty member,
Faculty of Medicine, at Montreal, on August 22, 2014.

PURDY CRAWFORD, emeritus governor,
at Toronto, on August 12, 2014.

SARAH P. GIBBS, emeritus professor of biology,
at Newport, N.H., on September 25, 2014.

JAN JARCZYK, retired professor, Schulich School of Music,
at Montreal, on August 3, 2014.

JOACHIM LAMBEK, BSc’45, MSc’46, PhD’50,
Peter Redpath Emeritus Professor of Pure Mathematics,
at Montreal, on June 23, 2014.

JOSEPH MARCHILDON, BEd’93,
former assistant coach for McGill Redmen football team,
at Montreal, on June 22, 2014.

EDWARD MCKYES, BEng’66, MEng’67, PhD’69,
retired professor of bioresource engineering,
at Sainte-Anne-De-Bellevue, Que., on May 27, 2014.

DAVID FATE NORTON, emeritus professor of philosophy,
at Victoria, B.C., on November 8, 2014.

ROBERT SAMUEL REMIS, BSc’67, MDCM’72,
former faculty member, Faculty of Medicine,
at Toronto, on September 25, 2014.

 

 

 

 

Life and love on the Rez

Fri, 2015-01-09 16:42
by Mark Lepage, BA’86

The cast of Mohawk Girls includes McGill alumna Heather White (second from right).

Cynthia Knight, BA’97, describes her TV series Mohawk Girls as “a Sex in the City on the Rez,” thereby sparing her interviewer the minor cultural risk of doing so.

It’s an apt tag line for the dramedy, a minor TV rez-olution set in real-world Kahnawake and dealing with real-life issues in a novel First Nations context. The show stars Heather White, BEd’11 (Caitlin), Maika Harper (Anna), Brittany LeBorgne (Zoe) and Jenny Pudavick (Bailey) – all of whom are at least part First Nations – as four twentysomething young women on, yes, the Rez, experiencing the community-specific but also universal issues of their age group. “They’re issues that any young woman can relate to, and certainly any young minority women,” says writer Knight, who co-conceived Mohawk Girls with Tracy Deer, an award-winning filmmaker who grew up in Kahnawake.

Deer is deeply involved in creating projects that focus on and expose her community and had previously made a short film on the subject of the trials and tribulations of four young Mohawk women. She and Knight bounced around the more ambitious idea of “drawing comedy and drama together – like life,” says Knight. “It just seemed really appealing to do something approachable on girls dating and mating and fashion and fun – but on the reserve, to really dispel some myths and stereotypes.”

At issue are oppositional pressures: ambition/desire versus community/tradition/obligation, “in a fun, entertaining way, not a preachy way, to show the real face of Mohawk people and the complexities of their lives beyond the core issues we always hear about in the newspaper,” says Knight.

There was Central Mission 1: “Let’s entertain people.” Central Mission 2 is to inform and potentially redefine. Sex in the City, sure – but with fewer shoes, more issues.

Heather White believes the show delivers on both counts. “It addresses the idea of identity and the politics around that, and how unique Kahnawake is.

“Not once have I been able to turn on the TV and find someone like myself there,” says White, a McGill-trained teacher in addition to being an actress. “Sure, there have been programs with native actors, but we’re not really discussed aside from the news, and barely after the fur trade. And I don’t look like Pocahontas walking down the street in buckskins.”

There is saucy language and frank (if comic) sexual scenarios, with an updated high-heels-and-tattoos look. “We are, after all, on after 9 pm.” says White. “My character has more of a serious storyline than the others.” But love, lust, promiscuity, infidelity, self-esteem and race/tribe loyalty filter through every episode.

“I’m not native,” says Knight (she’s Jewish). “But when I was a kid, my mom had a friend in Kahnawake and we used to go there all the time. And that woman had a really big house with a swimming pool.” Not the double-wide wheel-less trailer from northern CBC reports on First Nations plight. “So when I grew up and later heard about Mohawk and native people and all these preconceptions, it was so different from the notion I had.

“They have an incredible sense of humour, there’s so much levity. And they also have this community outreach and support and solidarity.” She tells the story of a Mohawk woman who fell ill, and whose neighbours raised  $30,000 for her care. “I mean, if I got sick, I’d starve!”

APTN was the first broadcaster to support the show, but now a second, Omni, has stepped up, airing the series in English and MandarinWhile it has not happened yet, the show will eventually be broadcast in Mohawk. Which will send its self-affirming message inward to the community but also reaffirm its mission.

“I think what a lot of people overlook is context,” White says. “At McGill, we’re taught to know the context of the environment, to understand the world before you offer an opinion. One thing Canadians assume is that all First Nations groups are the same. There’s this big umbrella of Native-Métis-Inuit.” White, who is half Mohawk (Quebec) and half Stoney (Alberta), says that the umbrella conceals the differences, complexities and contrasts between peoples.

“So much of our history has been silenced. We are not in the Quebec curriculum. Art is at the forefront of social change. So I hope Mohawk Girls will build bridges.”

Feedback from viewers within and without the community has mainly been positive.The Toronto Star applauded the show for “[looking] at issues of racism, sexuality and culture in a frank and oftentimes subversive way,” while the Globe and Mail declared that the series was often “laugh-out-loud funny.”

“People have been excited about the production values and the content,” says White. Feedback closer to home? “I know my husband thinks it’s hilarious,” says White.

Mohawk Girls airs Tuesdays on APTN and Sundays on Omni at 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Thirteen episodes have been shot.

RELATED READING:

McGill’s new Indigenous studies program is off to a fast start.

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Running with the Bulls

Thu, 2015-01-08 14:33
by Benjamin Gleisser

Ram Padmanabhan is the vice president of financial and general counsel for the NBA’s Chicago Bulls.

On some afternoons, when the United Center, the home of the Chicago Bulls, is empty of cheering fans, the sounds of basketballs thumping and athletic shoes squeaking on the polished wood floor lure Ram Padmanabhan, BA’90, out of his office. Padmanabhan, the Bulls’ vice president of financial and general counsel, sits alone in the stands and watches the players warming up for the upcoming game.

“It’s one of my most enjoyable things to do,” he says. “Nobody else is around. I hear the music for the night’s game being tested on the PA system, and watch the players shooting around.”

For Padmanabhan, a sports fan who grew up collecting hockey and baseball cards, playing pickup basketball and soccer games in high school, and who counts former Bulls great Michael Jordan among his favorite athletes of all time, his job is a dream come true.

His responsibilities include overseeing the financial functions and handling all legal affairs for the Bulls. He prepares and reviews player contracts, sponsorship agreements, and television and radio deals, and makes sure the company is in compliance with applicable government and league regulations. He heads a staff of seven people.

He loves his work – even when acquaintances and fans want to give him a piece of their mind about how the team should be run.

“I tell them I’m not the one making decisions about who’s out on the court and how much playing time someone’s getting,” he says with a laugh. “In the sports industry, we deal with something a lot of people are passionate about. We’re in the paper every day, people watch us on TV and they talk about us on the radio. We have Chicago Bulls fans around the world. I encounter lots of people who have opinions about how things should be run. But that’s what makes this business so novel.”

Padmanabhan joined the Bulls in 2013, at a time when the team was on the upswing. In fact, some sportswriters had picked the Bulls to win their division this season and then charge into the Eastern Conference Championship. The Bulls currently lead the Central Division, after shaking off a so-so start that was compounded by injuries to key players.

“When the team struggles, it affects you,” Padmanabhan says with a shrug in his voice. “The job is especially fun when the team thrives.”

When Padmanabhan realized early in life that he wouldn’t make it as a professional athlete, he began investigating different career paths. He enrolled at McGill and concentrated on liberal arts courses, then gravitated toward economics, thanks in part to several professors who made the curriculum fascinating.

“I had a pretty good idea I wanted to go to law school, and I could see how the principles of economics could be used to explain how rules of law ought to be,” he remembers. “I especially enjoyed Thomas Naylor’s class on the ‘Underground Economy,’ and I liked Christopher Green’s class on ‘Industrial Organization.’ He really made the subject matter interesting.”

Padmanabhan earned his JD at Northwestern School of Law in 1993, clerked for a federal judge in the US Court of Appeals and started his practice at Chicago’s Kirkland & Ellis. He moved on to Katten Muchin Rosenman, a Chicago-based law firm whose clients included the Bulls and the Chicago White Sox. Later, he was vice president, chief counsel-corporate and company secretary at Aon plc, where he oversaw the company’s global financing arrangements, mergers and acquisitions and corporate governance.

When the Bulls had an opening for a general counsel, a team executive remembered working with Padmanabhan, and approached him about the job.

“I said, ‘Absolutely!’” he remembers with a laugh. “For me, an avid sports fan, I was thrilled to be practicing law for a sports team.”

While his job is the fulfillment of a dream, there is still one more item to cross off his bucket list – to lace up his sneakers, go down onto the arena floor when no one else is around, dribble a basketball and shoot a few baskets. Perhaps someday, he says.

When asked if there is a motto he lives by, he quotes Albert Einstein: “‘A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new,’” Padmanabhan says. “In other words, try to do things outside your comfort zone, and get comfortable with the uncomfortable. I think that is a philosophy that applies in any endeavor and makes life far more interesting.”

RELATED READING:

How Matt Nichol, BEd’ 98, helps NHLers be the best they can be.

Four-time Olympic gold medalist Charline Labonté, BEd’12, on coming out publicly.

 

Engineering the future of The Walrus

Tue, 2015-01-06 14:48
by Sheldon Gordon

Jonathan Kay is the new editor of The Walrus. (Photo: Alyssa Bistonath)

When The Walrus was launched in 2003 as a distinctly Canadian, general-interest magazine, its founders wished to break with the earnest national cliché of the beaver. So they selected the tusked Arctic mammal as their symbol.

The Walrus has proved to be a hardy critter, surviving bouts of financial instability to become Canada’s most honoured publication at the annual National Magazine Awards.

Jonathan Kay, BEng’92, MEng’94, recently became the magazine’s fourth editor-in-chief, following 16 years at the National Post, where he was the longtime comment pages editor and a leading purveyor of conservative ideas.

So will he remake The Walrus as a Canadian version of the conservative Commentary or of the more middle-of-the-road Atlantic Monthly? “If I had to choose, it would be the Atlantic,” Kay says. He intends to favour long-form reportage over policy-wonk columns. (Of his contributions to the National Post, he’s proudest of a 6,000-word article he wrote following a four-day visit to the Cree community of James Bay).

Readers shouldn’t expect any drastic changes to the magazine’s corps of contributors, but Kay does hope to broaden things a bit.  “I would like to retain the magazine’s writers from the Annex [a left-leaning neighbourhood in Toronto],” says Kay, “but I would also like to use writers whom I respected at the National Post. But they wouldn’t necessarily write on politics.” He suggests Conrad Black, MA’73, might contribute an essay on prison reform and Father Raymond J. de Souza could write on college sports.

Kay says he didn’t plan on a journalism career when he attended McGill.  He recalls playing broomball on campus and meeting his future wife, lawyer Jennifer Good, BA’93, BCL’97, LLB’97, at the University. He studied engineering, earning two degrees. “I loved the math,” he says, “but found it difficult to implement engineering principles in an industrial setting.  I wasn’t good with my hands.”

Engineering nevertheless would prove useful to his journalism. “I worked on stories that other journalists wouldn’t touch because they were scared off by science,” he says. Kay’s knowledge of metallurgy came in handy when he debunked conspiracy theories about the 9/11 destruction of the Twin Towers in Among the Truthers. The book, which examined the factors that fuel conspiracy theories, drew praise from both the New York Times and The Economist.

Following his engineering studies, Kay did a law degree and practiced for two years as a tax lawyer in New York City.  “But tax law wasn’t for me,” he says. “I was always destined to be a writer.” As a freelancer for Saturday Night, he got to know the editor, Kenneth Whyte. When Conrad Black started the National Post in 1998, Whyte was editor-in-chief and Kay joined the new daily as an editorial writer.

In addition to unsigned editorials, he wrote a bylined column in the paper in which he sometimes strayed from the Post‘s editorial line.  “I started in the Conrad Black mould, but the last 15 years have taken some of the rough edges off my ideology,” he says. “People have this view of me that’s frozen in time.” He cites the failure of the Iraq War, the 2008 global financial crisis and climate change as events that have mellowed his conservatism.

In early 2014, Kay was hired to help Justin Trudeau, BA’94, put together his memoir Common Ground. “I’d never worked closely with a politician at that level,” he says. He interviewed the Liberal Party of Canada leader for 40 hours about his life and politics, coming away with enormous regard for Trudeau’s honesty and warmth, if not his policies.

Kay expects to have a tenure of “at least five years” at The Walrus.  “After 16 years at the National Post opinion pages, I felt like I was getting a little stale,” he says. “I also felt like I had written enough 700-word editorials on, say, the Middle East or Quebec separatism — and that it was time for someone else to take over. The pages will profit from someone else bringing a fresh perspective.

“Over time, my interests as a journalist had drifted more toward essays and long-form journalism, which is what The Walrus serves up. So it’s a great fit for me.”

RELATED READING

Meet the McGill grads behind three very different publicationsVice, Maisonneuve and The Mark.

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Alumnotes – Fall/Winter 2014

Thu, 2014-12-25 15:14
AGRICULTURAL & ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES

VIKRAM SHRIVASTAVA, MSc(AgrEnvSc)’98, works for the professional services firm Dewberry and is an office manager in Dewberry’s Fairfax, Virginia office. He was recently awarded the certification of diplomate, water resources engineer (D.WRE) by the American Academy of Water Resources Engineers. D.WRE recipients have demonstrated strong professional ethics, a commitment to life-long learning, and continuing professional development.

 

MURRAY D. MCEWEN, BSc(Agr)’53, DSc’93 (left with Governor General David Johnston), was formally inducted into the Order of Canada as a new Member during a ceremony held at Rideau Hall on May 7. He is the former president and CEO of Redpath Industries and the former managing director of its parent company, Tate & Lyle North America. He played an important role in introducing the non-calorie sweetener sucralose to the world and helped launch the Breakfast for Learning program that today supplies meals and snacks to children in more than 2,100 Canadian schools.

ARCHITECTURE

CARLOS REIMERS, MArch’93, was elected the mid-Atlantic director of the National Board of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA). The ACSA mid-Atlantic region includes 21 schools of architecture. He is a faculty member of the Catholic University of America’s School of Architecture and Planning.

AMALE ANDRAOS, BSc(Arch)’94, BArch’96, is the new dean of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (GSAPP). An associate professor at GSAPP and a principal at the New York-based firm WORKac,  she has overseen many projects, including the Children’s Museum for the Arts in Manhattan, the Blaffer Museum in Houston and the master plans for seven college campuses in China.

ILANA JUDAH, BSc(Arc)’96, BArch’97, has been promoted to being one of the principals at FXFOWLE Architects, where she has worked for 17 years, most recently as director of sustainability. She leads the implementation of environmentally-responsible design strategies on all the firm’s projects.

ROBERT KIRKBRIDE, PhD’03, is an associate professor of product design and the associate dean of the School of Constructed Environments at Parsons The New School for Design. His design of the Morbid Anatomy Museum was recently constructed in Brooklyn, New York, and his chapter on “Architecture and Rhetoric in the Renaissance” is due for release in the Oxford Handbook of Rhetorical Studies.

 

MOSHE SAFDIE, BArch’61, LLD’82, an architect whose works include Habitat 67, the National Gallery of Canada, the Crystal Bridges Museum in Arkansas and the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C., is the recipient of the 2015 Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects. The prize is the AIA’s highest honour and past recipients include Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, Frank Gehry and fellow McGill graduate Arthur Erickson, BArch’50, LLD’75.

BASIL HENRIK SCHABAN-MAURER, PhD’13, recently published Rise of the Citizen Practitioner. The book, available through Amazon.com, assesses North American citizen participation practices and research methods, and identifies the challenges and issues associated with such practices. The book builds on the themes he explored while working on his doctoral dissertation at McGill. He is a principal at ARK Tectonics, a citizen-centred design and architecture practice.

ARTS

JUNE PIMM, BA’48, MPS’52, is coordinator of the Autism Initiative for the Ottawa Carleton District School Board, and an adjunct professor of psychology at Carleton University. Her recent book, The Autism Story, draws on extensive research in the field of autism, offering a practical guide for parents and teachers of autistic children. The Autism Story was published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside in March.

GARTH STEVENSON, BA’63, MA’65, recently published his eighth book, Building Nations from Diversity: Canadian and American Experience Compared (McGill-Queens University Press). The book examines how Canada and the U.S. have incorporated various immigrant and ethnic groups and concludes that the alleged contrast between the Canadian “mosaic” and the American “melting pot” has been exaggerated. He retired from Brock University’s political science department in 2012.

LAWRENCE ROSSY, BA’65, was named an Officer of the Order of Quebec in June. The CEO of Dollarama, his philanthropic support was critical to the creation of the Rossy Cancer Network that involves McGill and its affiliated hospitals.

ELIZABETH WAJNBERG, BA’68, is the author of Sheymes: A Family Album After the Holocaust (McGill-Queens University Press). The daughter of Holocaust survivors, she traces her family history as it shifts from the prewar years through the war to their arrival in Montreal, presenting a portrait of a family whose bonds were both soldered and sundered by their wartime experiences.

TIMOTHY CASGRAIN, BA’69, was appointed as a new Officer to the Order of Canada in June for his civic engagement and for his dedication to promoting literacy, culture and sport in Canada. The former chair of both CBC/Radio Canada and the Toronto Rehab Foundation, he currently chairs the board of directors for HIPPY Canada, an organization dedicated to providing job-training and other resources to mothers who feel isolated from society.

HEATHER MENZIES, BA’70, published Reclaiming the Commons for the Common Good (New Society Publishers), a book that explores the traditions of common ownership, offering a detailed description of the self-organizing, self-governing and self-informing principles of this nearly forgotten way of life. In May, she was formally inducted into the Order of Canada for her contributions to public discourse. Her last two books were both included on the Globe and Mail’s annual “Best 100 Books” list.

MURIEL GOLD POOLE, MA’72, has been awarded a grant from the Conseil des arts et des lettres for her upcoming book on Madame Jean-Louis Audet, a Québécois teacher of theatre whose students included Genevieve Bujold, Albert Millaire, Gilles Pelletier, Jean-Louis Roux and Robert Charlebois. The bilingual exploration of Audet will be her seventh book.

DAVID BENNETT, PhD’73, is the author of A Few Lawless Vagabonds: Ethan Allen, the Republic of Vermont, and the American Revolution (Casemate), an account of Allen’s negotiations with the British and his secret attempts to turn Vermont into a separate nation under British rule. Allen is widely regarded as the principal founder of the state of Vermont.

KAY CORRY AUBREY, BA’77, recently celebrated the 12th anniversary of her software usability consultancy Usability Resources Inc, based in Bedford, Massachusetts.

 

AARON LANSKY, MA’80, (seen here between author Peter Maseau and U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama) is the founding director of the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Massachusetts. He accepted the 2014 National Medal for Museum and Library Service from Obama during a ceremony held in the White House this summer. The center, which is credited with rescuing more than one million Yiddish books from destruction, offers a variety of programs to promote the Yiddish language.

RIC ESTHER BIENSTOCK, BA’81, is the writer and director of Tales From the Organ Trade, an investigative documentary that delves into the shadowy world of black-market organ trafficking. The film was nominated for two News and Documentary Emmy Awards and received several other prizes, including the Canadian Medical Association’s Norman Bethune Award for Excellence in International Health Reporting and the Overseas Press Club of America’s Edward R. Murrow Award.

DENIS SAMPSON, PhD’82, recently published A Migrant Heart, a memoir that explores his childhood and youth in Ireland and his transition to life in Montreal. The book also examines the powerful role that reading plays in creating an identity. His wife, Gabrielle, and their three children are all McGill graduates and his son Conor is an adjunct professor of lighting design in the School of Architecture.

MARGUERITE MENDELL, PhD’83, was named an Officer of the Order of Quebec in June. She is the director of the Karl Polanyi Institute of Political Economy at Concordia University and a leading expert on the social economy, alternative investment strategies, comparative community economic development and economic democracy.

GILLIAN DEACON, BA’88, DipEd’92, is the author of Naked Imperfection, a book that chronicles how she dealt with being diagnosed with cancer after taking pains to live an all-natural, chemical-free lifestyle. An award-winning broadcaster, Gillian lives in Toronto where she hosts Here & Now on CBC Radio One.

TOD HOFFMAN, BA’85, MA’88, is the author of Al Qaeda Declares War, a book that recounts Al Qaeda’s bombing of American embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998 and explores the step-by-step procedures used by the U.S. in analyzing these attacks and tracking down the suspects. He served as an officer with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service for eight years.

ROBERT L. ROSENTHAL, BA’88, is a trial lawyer specializing in labour law, employment law and business litigation with Howard & Howard, where he serves as partner in charge of the Las Vegas office’s labour and employment group. He was recently selected for The Best Lawyers in America 2015, a peer-reviewed guide of legal experts.

NOAH COWAN, BA’89, is the new executive director of the San Francisco Film Society. Noah was the artistic director at TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto and previously worked as the co-director of the Toronto International Film Festival.

DANIEL GOODWIN, BA’91, published his first novel, Sons and Fathers (Linda Leith Publishing), which explores the lives of three friends who meet at McGill and make their way from student politics to the pinnacle of power in Ottawa. Daniel has worked as a teacher, journalist and communications and government relations executive. He lives in Calgary with his wife and three children.

 

MICHAEL PENNER, BA’91, is the new chair of the board for Hydro-Québec. He is the president and CEO of Richelieu Group, a Canadian legwear company with facilities in Montreal, Ontario and North Carolina. The company’s brands include Peds socks and hosiery and Medi-Peds therapeutic socks. Earlier this year, he took part in a White House Roundtable with U.S. president Barack Obama that involved companies that had recently chosen to invest in the United States.

ANDREW PYPER, BA’91, MA’92, won the 2014 International Thriller Writers’ Thriller Award for best hardcover novel for his book, The Demonologist. Other finalists for the prize included Stephen King and Lee Child. Andrew is the first Canadian to receive the honour. Film rights for the novel have been optioned
by Universal Studios and director/producer Robert Zemeckis.

BRENDA LeFRANCOIS, BA’91, co-edited Psychiatry Disrupted: Theorizing Resistance and Crafting the (R)evolution (McGill-Queen’s University Press), an anthology that combines perspectives from a range of sources (including radical disability studies and feminist, Marxist and anarchist thought) to critique
the practice of psychiatry. Brenda is an associate professor in the School of Social Work at Memorial University, where she also holds an appointment
in the Faculty of Medicine.

RICH LENKOV, BA’92, practices law with Bryce Downey & Lenkov, LLC in Chicago. He was named one of the “50 most influential people in workers’ compensation” by SEAK Inc., a continuing education, publishing and consulting company. He created the National Workers’ Compensation Coalition, an organization devoted to representing the interests of employers in workers’ compensation matters. After it merged with the Claims and Litigation Management Alliance (CLM), Rich helped form the Greater Chicago Chapter of CLM and currently serves as its president. In 2013, he was named Northern Illinois University Law’s Alumnus of the Year.

 

KATERINA CIZEK, BA’93, is the writer and director of Highrise, a multi-year, multimedia documentary project about life in residential highrises. A Short History of the Highrise, a New York Times and National Film Board collaboration that forms part of the project, recently earned a News and Documentary Emmy Award. The project has earned several other prizes, including an International Emmy, a Canadian Screen Award and the Canadian Urban Institute Urban Leadership Global City and Innovation Award.

RICH LATOUR, BA’95, has joined Goldman Sachs as its new vice president of global content strategy. As a senior producer with NBC News, he was part of a team that was recently nominated for two News and Documentary Emmys for its reporting on U.S. president Barack Obama’s inauguration and the 2013
Boston marathon bombings.

AUDRA SIMPSON, MA’96, PhD’04, is the author of Mohawk Interruptus (Duke University Press), an examination of the struggles of the Mohawk community in Kahnawake to maintain their cultural identity and political sovereignty. Like many Iroquois peoples, they insist on the integrity of Haudenosaunee governance and refuse American or Canadian citizenship. Audra is an assistant professor of anthropology at Columbia University.

FABRICE RIVAULT, BA’97, MA’99, MBA’01, recently joined McGill’s communications and external relations team as the director of government and institutional relations. He worked extensively in public relations and strategic communications for the Liberal Party of Canada for such elected federal politicians as Marc Garneau and Martin Cauchon. He now works closely with Olivier Marcil, McGill’s vice-principal (communcations and external relations).

JULIE TRAVES, MA’97, is now the deputy editor of the National Post. Before joining the Post, she worked at the Globe and Mail for a decade, most recently as the editor of the paper’s Focus section.

LESLIE STOJSIC, BA’98, recently moved to Ottawa to work at CBC’s Parliamentary bureau as a senior producer for the CBC News Network’s Power & Politics with Evan Solomon. She previously worked
as a producer for The National and Mansbridge One-on-One.

 

MARIKO TAMAKI, BA’98 (right), was nominated for a Governor General’s Literary Award in the category of English Children’s Literature (Text) for This One Summer. Also nominated were Claire Holden Rothman, BA’81, BCL’84, for Best English Fiction (for My October) and associate professor of French language and literature Alain Farrah for Best French Fiction (for Pourquoi Bologne). Finalists for Translation (French to English) included Peter Feldstein, BA’84 (the winner, for Paul-Émile Borduas: A Critical Biography), Linda Gaboriau, BA’65, MA’72 (for Christina, The Girl King) and Rhonda Mullins, CertTranslation’05 (for Guyana).

VALERIE BELAIR-GAGNON, BA’04, was appointed research scholar and executive director of the Yale Law School Information Society Project. The ISP is an intellectual centre that addresses the implications of the Internet and new information technologies for law and society. Her book Social Media at BBC News: The Re-Making of Crisis Reporting will be published in 2015 by Routledge.

DAVID CAMPBELL, BA’04, was awarded the David Stockwood Memorial Prize by the Advocate’s Society, a national association for litigators. The award is presented every two years to the winner of a national legal writing competition for young advocates. His winning article will be published in The Advocate’s
Society Journal.

REGAN McGRATH, BA’05, recently launched Metrics Chartered Accounting, a cloud-based accounting firm in Victoria, B.C. Operating across Canada, the company helps business owners and individuals take advantage of the benefits offered by online services. Boasting a 100 per cent paperless business model, Metrics was the first accounting firm in Victoria to receive the Vancouver Island Green Business Certification.

 

TAMY EMMA PEPIN, BA’06, earned a Prix Gémeaux as Best Host of a Cultural Show for her work on Tamy@Royaume-Uni, a travel series about the United Kingdom that aired on Évasion. A freelance television host and producer, Tamy has been an editor for Huffington Post Québec and a social media ambassador for Tourism Montreal. The Prix Gémeaux are the Quebec television industry’s top awards.

ALAN BRINSMEAD, BA’10, performs around the world as an electronic music composer and producer under the name Sinjin Hawke. One of his works was awarded the 12th spot in Spin magazine’s
50 Best Dance Tracks of 2013.

STEPHANIE ROESLER, PhD’10, was awarded the 2014 John Glassco Prize from the Literary Translator’s Association for her translation of Helleborous et Alchémille, a collection of poems by English poet Elena Wolff. The prize recognizes talent and literary excellence demonstrated by literary translators in their first published work.

TOM UE, MA’11, is the editor of World Film Locations: Toronto, a collection of essays and images that explores the role that Toronto has played as a film location for several movies including American Psycho and X-Men.

MAXIME LANGELIER-PARENT, BA’12, who helped the McGill Redmen win a national championship in 2012, signed a contract with the Nottingham Panthers of the Elite Ice Hockey League, a 10-team league in the United Kingdom. He previously played minor pro hockey in the American Hockey League and the East Coast Hockey League.

ANNA NATHANSON, BA’13, is a Peace Corps volunteer in Cameroon. She was one of nine bloggers selected from among more than 350 Peace Corps volunteers in 60 different countries as a winner of the Peace Corps’ annual Blog It Home contest. In September, she visited Washington, DC to discuss her blog, Anna does Pangea, with students, local Girl Scout troops and others in a series
of public events.

CONTINUING STUDIES

HOWARD JOHNSON, DPA’89, was recently appointed president of M&A International, an organization of merger and acquisition advisors comprising more than 600 professionals in 40 countries. Howard continues to be the managing director of Veracap M&A International in Toronto. He was awarded a fellowship by the Canadian Institute of Chartered Business Valuators for his service to that profession, including his seven books on the subjects of business valuation and corporate finance.

SMADAR BRANDES, BA’10, CertTranslation’14, is the 2014 winner of the McGill Associates Prize in Translation, awarded annually to the student with the best academic record in the Certificate in Translation Program. Smadar is fluent in six different languages: Hebrew, English, French, Italian, Spanish, and Yiddish, and has travelled widely to teach courses in language and culture.

EDUCATION

BILL CONROD, MA’70, recently published More Memories of Snowdon in the 50s, a collection of stories and photographs from Montreal’s Snowdon neighbourhood. His book is a sequel to Memories of Snowdon in the 50s, which was released in 2006. The book is available at Bibliophile in Snowdon or through Bill directly at jillbillc@sympatico.ca.

DENNIS CATO, MEd’74, MA’78, earned his PhD from the University of Ottawa in 1983, and has since published his work in several journals, including the McGill Journal of Education, the Journal of Philosophy of Education and Educational Theory. He has presented conference papers on the philosophy of education at several universities, including the University of London, Cambridge University and the University of Oxford. He has taught at the secondary level in Halifax, Calgary and Montreal and has also taught in Rome and Barcelona.

KEN RIVARD, MEd’74, released his 10th book, Motherwild (Thistledown Press) this fall. Set in Montreal, the book traces a teen’s desperate relationship with his mother during a one-year period that begins in December, 1959. Some of Ken’s previous work has been among the finalists for the Writers Guild of Alberta Book Award and the City Of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize. For more information, visit kenrivard.com.

CHRISTINE HELMER, BEd’87, recently published her book Theology and the End of Doctrine with Westminster John Knox Press.

CEDRIC SPEYER, BA’81, MEd’90, is developing GuideLives for the Journey: Ordinary Persons, Extraordinary Pathfinders, a documentary series that explores the lives of spiritual and intellectual guides and their influences on the lives of others. The series was inspired by McGill’s own Tom Francoeur, a professor emeritus in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education. Cedric is the clinical
supervisor of e-counselling for the employee assistance program Shepell•fgi. To find out more about GuideLives for the Journey, visit www.guidelives.ca.

ERIK SLUTSKY, MEd’92, held an autumn exhibition of his oil paintings titled “Les Muses du Mile End” at Galerie D in downtown Montreal. Former fellow students can connect with Erik at www.facebook.com/erikslutsky.artist. Some of his work can be viewed at erikslutsky.ca.

 

RANDY CHEVRIER, BEd’00, a longsnapper with the Grey Cup champion Calgary Stampeders, is the recipient of the 2014 Tom Pate Memorial Award, presented by the CFL Players’ Association to an individual for sportsmanship and community involvement. A high school football coach, he is prominently involved in Stampeder or CFL programs that raise funds for cancer research and combat domestic violence.

ENGINEERING

DAVID ADRIAN SELBY, BEng’49, MEng’64, was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubliee Medal in 2013. He is a retired professor of civil engineering at McGill.

SUE ABU-HAKIMA, BEng’82, was recently named among the Top 25 Women of Influence in Canada by the Ottawa Business Journal. Sue is the founder and CEO of Amika Mobile, where she and her team introduced technology for issuing alerts on mobile devices during emergency situations. She has contributed to the Prime Minister’s Task Force on Women Entrepreneurs and has published and presented more than 125 papers. She is a member of the Order of Ontario and a winner of the Queen Elizabeth II Medal for Service to Canada.

ROBERT VAN DUYNHOVEN, BEng’88, was recently appointed the new managing director at Endura Energy Projects Corp., an Ontario-based solar energy consulting firm specializing in system engineering, design, project management and full turn-key solar solutions. Endura Energy is responsible for the design and engineering of more than 250 MW of solar power systems in Ontario.

GWYNETH EDWARDS, BEng’92, earned her PhD in business administration from Concordia University’s  John Molson School of Business in 2013. She was the valedictorian of her class and received the Governor General’s Academic Gold Medal. She now works at HEC Montreal and lives in Kirkland with her husband, Marc Desparois, and their two daughters Siân and Byrnne.

LAW

JAMES HUGESSEN, BCL’57, was appointed as a new Member to the Order of Canada in June for his contributions to the advancement of disability law and for his dedication as a jurist. A retired judge who served on the Federal Court of Appeal, he also chaired the national Task Force on Access to Information for Print-Disabled Canadians.

DAN J. SULLIVAN, BCL’61, was awarded the Msgr. Russell Whitton Breen Medal of Honor, which recognizes those who serve St. Igantius of Loyola Parish with distinction. Dan has been highly active in community work involving the parish, the Father Dowd Foundation, Catholic Community Services, Sacred Heart School and St. Mary’s Hospital. He was a warden of the Parish of Saint Patrick and a trustee of the St. Patrick’s Basilica Restoration Foundation.

 

IRWIN COTLER, BA’61, BCL’64, is a recipient of the Canadian Bar Association’s CBA President’s Award for significant contributions to the legal profession. An emeritus professor of law at McGill, he is a longtime human rights lawyer who has represented such figures as Nelson Mandela and Natan Sharansky. He was Canada’s justice minister and attorney general from 2003 to 2006 and was recently named as Parliamentarian of the year in a vote by his fellow MPs.

RONALD I. COHEN, BCL’68, was included on Queen Elizabeth’s Birthday Honours List as a Member of the Order of the British Empire for his services to British history. The distinction was awarded for his work on Winston Churchill, which includes writing The Bibliography of the Writings of Sir Winston Churchill and founding the Sir Winston Churchill Society of Ottawa. British High Commissioner to Canada Howard Drake credited Ronald’s efforts as “a source of pride for both Canada and the U.K.”

MARJORIE SHARP, BCL’70, LLB’71, LLM’80, is one of the recipients of the Quebec Community Groups Network’s 2014 Sheila and Victor Goldbloom Distinguished Community Service Awards. A lawyer in Montreal, she helped establish L’Abri en Ville for individuals with mental health issues, Auberge Madeleine for battered women, and Elder-Aide for seniors. A dedicated volunteer, she has also worked with the YWCA, Camp Cosmos for underpriviledged children and Christ Church Cathedral and sat on the Royal Victoria Hospital’s ethics review boards.

ERIC MALDOFF, BA’71, BCL’74, LLB’75, is one of the recipients of the Quebec Community Groups Network’s 2014 Sheila and Victor Goldbloom Distinguished Community Service Awards. He has chaired the executive committee of the McGill University Health Centre and served as vice-chair of the MUHC’s board of directors. He played an instrumental role in the merger of the MUHC’s member hospitals. The founding president of Alliance Quebec, he is also the chair of the Old Brewery Mission and the chair of the Mount Sinai Hospital Foundation.

BRUCE McNIVEN, BCL’79, was appointed as a new Member to the Order of Canada in June in recognition of his longtime commitment to the preservation and flourishing of Montreal culture and heritage. Bruce is a trustee and member of the executive committee of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, a founding member and treasurer of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, a director and member of the executive committee of Heritage Montreal and the president of the Drummond Foundation.

 

CLÉMENT GASCON, BCL’81, became a justice of the Supreme Court of Canada in June. he previously served as a justice on the Quebec Superior Court and the Quebec Court of Appeal. he practiced law for 21 years at heenan Blaikie in Montreal, specializing in civil and commercial litigation and in labour law, and taught at McGill, the Université du Québec à Montréal and the Barreau du Québec.

SHARON G. DRUKER, BCL’85, LLB’85, is a senior partner in the Business Law Group at Robinson Sheppard Shapiro LLP in Montreal. She was recently named by her peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers of Canada 2015 in the field of corporate law.

DOMINIQUE VEZINA, BCL’87, LLB’87, was appointed judge to the Civil Division of the Quebec Court in Montreal. Prior to that, she was a litigator in civil and professional liability matters at Donati Maisonneuve.

DAVID ROSE, BA’86, LLB’90, has been appointed a judge of the Ontario Court of Justice and will preside over criminal cases in Newmarket. He spent 22 years as a criminal lawyer in Toronto.

JAMES HUGHES, BCL’91, is one of the recipients of the Quebec Community Groups Network’s 2014 Sheila and Victor Goldbloom Distinguished Community Service Awards. James is the president of the Graham Boeckh Foundation, which is dedicated to improving the lives of those affected with mental illness. He is the co-founder of Youth Employment Services (YES) and the former executive director of the Old Brewery Mission.

MARC WEINSTEIN, BA’85, BCL’91, LLB’91, received the 2014 Award for Outstanding Philanthropic Career from the Quebec chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. As McGill’s vice principal (university advancement), he helped lead Campaign McGill as it raised more than $1 billion.

 

SHANNON ROGERS, LLB’96, BCL’96, took the number-one spot in a recent ranking of Canada’s top 100 female entrepreneurs by Chatelaine and Profit magazines. She is the president and general counsel of digital-message-archiving firm Global Relay Communications Inc. Since joining the company as its fourth employee, she has played a vital role in helping Global Relay develop a broad client base that now includes 22 of the world’s 25 largest banks.

MANAGEMENT

PHILIP C. LEVI, BCom’70, has been reappointed for a second year to the Forensic & Litigation Services (FLS) Committee of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. During his first term, he was also appointed as the chair of the Litigation Process Task Force and continues to serve in that role. The FLS Committee provides relevant and timely resources for the use of forensic accounting practitioners.

MARIO D’AMICO, BCom’80, is the new chief marketing officer for the Nature Conservancy in Washington, DC, an organization dedicated to advancing conservation efforts around the world. Mario is the former global chief marketing officer for Cirque du Soleil, where he led marketing expansion efforts
in Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and Australia.

GREG SILAS, BCom’91, DPA’91, MBA’03, is the co-owner of Le Sieur d’Iberville, a new restaurant inspired by the Montreal traditions of the brasserie and the rotisserie. The restaurant boasts a massive wood-fired rotisserie and a unique “beer dumbwaiter,” and specializes in chef-driven bar food with a few Louisiana inspirations. It is named for Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville, a New France adventurer who established the first French colony in Louisiana. For more information, visit www.sieur.com.

MONIA MAZIGH, PhD’01, is the author of Miroirs et mirages, a novel that follows the lives of a group of Muslim women and their daughters. The book was a finalist for the Trillium Book Award. The novel was recently translated into English and Mirrors and Mirages is now available in bookstores and online.

STEVE KENT, MMgmt’03, became the new deputy premier of Newfoundland and Labrador in September. He is also the province’s minister of health and community services and its minister responsible for the Office of Public Engagement. He is the former mayor of Mount Pearl and a former CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Newfoundland.

JULIE BERNIER, BEng’99, MMgmt’07, and JULIAN WAINGORTIN, MBA’06, are proud to announce the birth of their first son, Tristan, who was born in Montreal in January 2014.

DAVID URQUHART, BCom’08, is now the appointed full-time assistant coach of the McGill Redmen hockey team. He played professionally in the American Hockey League, the East Coast Hockey League, and in Italy. During his time at McGill, he earned Academic All-Canadian honours and captained the Redmen to its first Queen’s Cup league title since 1946.

MEDICINE

SUSAN FRENCH, BN’65, was appointed as a new Officer to the Order of Canada in June for her achievements in the field of nursing education in Canada and abroad. She has served as the director of the Schools of Nursing at both McGill and McMaster University.

FRANCIS H. GLORIEUX, PhD’72, is the 2014 recipient of the William F. Neuman Award, given by the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR) for outstanding scientific and educational contributions to the area of bone and mineral research. He is the emeritus director of research at Shriners Hospital for Children, and a McGill professor emeritus of medicine.

 

BOB BELL, BSc’73, MDCM’75, became the new deputy minister of health for the province of Ontario in June. An orthopedic oncologist, he was the president of Toronto’s University Health Network, the largest research hospital network in Canada, for nine years. A former member of the McGill Redmen football team, he was an all-star offensive tackle who helped McGill win the OQAA conference championship in 1969.

PATRICIA O’CONNOR, BScN’76, MSc(A)’82, was presented with the 2014 College of Health Leaders (CCHL) Nursing Leadership Award for her outstanding contributions to improving patient care. She is the former director of nursing and chief nursing officer at McGill University Health Centre, where she implemented the Transforming Care at the Bedside Program. The program, which now involves more than 1,500 nurses, has resulted in a 60 per cent reduction in medical transcription errors and a 20 per cent improvement in patient experience of care.

DAVID GOLDBLOOM, MDCM’81, DipPsych’85, was appointed as a new Officer to the Order of Canada in June for his national leadership as a mental health clinician, educator and advocate and for his involvement in a range of community endeavours. He is the chair of the Mental Health Commission of Canada, the senior medical adviser at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and a professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto.

 

PHILIPPE GROS, PhD’83, is the recipient of the Royal Society of Canada’s McLaughlin Medal for important research of sustained excellence in medical science. A professor of biochemistry at McGill and the vice-dean of life sciences in the Faculty of Medicine, his research focuses on human diseases with a complex genetic component, such as developmental defects, cancer and susceptibility to infections.

CHRISTEL SEEBERGER, BSc(OT)’93, is an occupational therapist and the founder of Total Ability, a private practice in New Brunswick that provides occupational therapy  to homes, schools and workplaces in and around Saint John, Fredericton, and Moncton. Christel has self-published nine eBooks for parents, teachers, caregivers and therapists (available at www.totalabilitysolutions.com) and five free eBooks about the role of occupational therapy (available at www.totalability.com).

ASTRID GUTTMAN, MDCM’94, was recently appointed chief science officer of the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES). She is a staff pediatrician at the Hospital for Sick Children and an associate professor of pediatrics and health policy, management and evaluation at the University of Toronto.

MUSIC

RICK BLECHTA, BMus’73, brings a musician’s viewpoint to the thriller genre. His book Cemetery of the Nameless was shortlisted for the Crime Writers of Canada’s Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel. His new book, Roses for a Diva, involves murder, a soprano being stalked and a Roman production of Tosca.

MAJA TROCHIMCZYK, PhD’94, published her third book of poetry, Slicing the Bread, Children’s Survival Manual in 25 Poems, a collection based on her family’s memories of the Second World War and the shadow that the war and the Holocaust cast on her childhood in Poland. The book is available from Finishing Line Press at www.finishinglinepress.com.

 

JULIE LAMONTAGNE, BMus’98 (pictured), received the 2014 ADISQ Félix Award for Best Jazz Interpretation Album for Noël. Win Butler, BA’04, and Arcade Fire received three awards, including Best English Album. Other McGill graduates who were finalists for a Félix included Maude Alain-Gendreau, BMus’11, and her Misses Satchmo bandmates (Best Jazz Interpretation Album), Vincent Lauzer, BMus’10, MMus’12, and Mark Edwards, MMus’11,(Best Classical Album – Solo or Small Ensemble), Julie Boulianne, BMus’03 (Best Classical Album – Vocal), Shawn Mativetsky, BMus’98, MMus’00, and his group Ragleela (Best World Music Album) and Josh Dolgin, BA’00 (Arranger of the year). The Félix Awards are among Quebec’s top honours for music and are presented by the Association québécoise de l’industrie du disque, du spectacle et de la video.

SARAH PAGÉ, LMus’06, is a harpist with the Montreal folk-rock band The Barr Brothers. The group’s first album was longlisted for the Polaris Music Prize. Their new CD, Sleeping Operator, offers “curious, exceptional folk-rock for the longest winter night,” according to the Globe and Mail.

MARK McDONALD, MMus’11, ArtistDip’13, took third place honours at the International Arp Schnitger Organ Competition held in Germany this summer. Mark is a doctoral student at the Schulich School of Music where he studies organ and harpsichord performance and teaches classes in musicianship. He recently returned from a year in Germany where he was a visiting scholar at the University of the Arts Bremen.

SCIENCE

RUDOLPH A. MARCUS, BSc’43, PhD’46, DSc’88, was named to the Alpha Chi Sigma Hall of Fame by Alpha Chi Sigma Fraternity, in recognition of his contributions to the field of chemistry. His research has explored almost every aspect of chemical reaction rate theory. He received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1992, the Wolf Prize in Chemistry in 1985, and the U.S. National Medal of Science in 1989.

 

THELMA PEPPER, MSc’43, is the 2014 recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Saskatchewan Arts Board. In her late fifties, Thelma took up photography and began documenting the lives of seniors in a nursing home where was a volunteer. her work (including the photo featured here) led to numerous exhibitions, several Canada Council and Saskatchewan Arts Board grants and wide recognition.The National Film Board’s 2009 documentary, A Year at Sherbrooke, chronicled her photographic work with the long-term care residents at the Sherbrooke Community Centre.

DAVID RYBACK, BSc’63, is the author of Beethoven in Love, a work of historical fiction that focuses on the passionate romance between Beethoven and his Immortal Beloved. As he researched Beethoven’s life and times for the book, David determined that the most likely suspect for the composer’s beloved muse was the married Antonie Brentano. For more information about the book, visit beethoveninlove.com.

RICHARD BOURHIS, BSc’71, is a professor of social psychology at Université du Québec à Montréal. He received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his contributions to Canada and a doctorate honoris causa from Universite de Lorrainé in France and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. His book, Decline and Prospects of the English-speaking Communities of Quebec, was recently released in French and English.

KAREN MESSING, MSc’70, PhD’75, recently published Pain and Prejudice: What Science Can Learn about Work and the People Who Do It. She is a professor emerita of biological sciences at Université du Québec à Montréal. Her new book is based on her encounters with workers in a variety of fields from around the world and argues that scientists and occupational health experts have largely failed to address work-related suffering. She recently received the William P. Yant Award from the American Industrial Hygiene Association for outstanding contributions to the industrial hygiene profession.

KOSTA STELIOU, BSc’71, MSc’75, PhD’78, was named a Fellow of the American Association of the Advancement of Science for distinguished contributions to the fields of organic chemistry, computational and theoretical chemistry and therapeutic medicinal chemistry. He is the CEO of PhenoMatrriX and a faculty member at the Boston University School of Medicine.

SUZANNE FORTIER, BSc’72, PhD’76, is the principal and vice-chancellor of McGill. She recently received an honorary degree from Carleton University in recognition of her “outstanding leadership in the Canadian scientific community while fostering research opportunities for future generations of scholars.” She has served as president of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), as well as vice-principal (research) and vice-principal (academic) of Queen’s University.

ELAINE GOLDS, PhD’78, received the Pacific Salmon Foundation’s George Hungerford Award for her work as a stream steward in British Columbia. A longtime environmental activist in Port Moody, Elaine is the chair of the Colony Farm Park Association, president of the PoMo Ecological Society and the green scene columnist for Tri-City News.

SUZANNE KINGSMILL, BSc’78, recently published Dying for Murder (Dundurn), the third novel in a mystery series centred on the adventures of zoologist Cordi O’Callaghan. Suzanne spent 15 years as a freelance writer, publishing her work in Canadian Geographic, Science, Discover, Maclean’s and other magazines.

MONA NEMER, PhD’82, was appointed as a new Officer to the Order of Canada in June for her contributions to our understanding of specific genes related to heart health and for her leadership in the academic research community. She is the vice-president, research at the University of Ottawa and a leading authority on the molecular mechanisms involved in cellular growth and differentiation, particularly as this relates to heart failure and congenital heart diseases.

BENJAMIN ERRETT, BSc’01, is the author of Elements of Wit: Mastering the Art of Being Interesting (Perigee Books). The book explores what it means to be witty and draws upon examples ranging from Oscar Wilde to Mae West to Louis CK. The Wall Street Journal called the book “entertaining” and said it would inspire readers to “crack a little wiser than before.”

JORDAN CATRACCHIA, BSc’11, is a senior production services technician at Sony Pictures Imageworks, where he provides technical support and other services to the production teams. He received a screen credit for his contributions to The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

JUNAED SATTAR, MSc’06, PhD’12, was recently appointed an assistant professor of computer science at Clarkson University. His research interests include mobile and field robotics, human-machine interaction, computer vision, machine learning, assistive robotics and sports analytics.

ALEXANDER GRAHAM, BSc’12, HUGH PODMORE, BSc’13, and EMA SCHIROMA-CHAO, BMus’13, all competed in the International Quidditch Association’s Global Games as members of Canada’s National Qudditch Team. All three are former players for McGill’s Quidditch team, the first of its kind in Canada. They were joined by McGill mechanical engineering student Robyn Fortune.

REUBEN HUDSON, PhD’14, a postdoctoral fellow at Colby College, was awarded a National Science Foundation grant of $378,000 for his research on polymers. His work might have potential applications for electrolyte membranes in hydrogen fuel cells.

SOCIAL WORK

MARION BOGO, BA’63, MSW’65, was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in June for her achievements in the field of social work as a scholar and teacher and for advancing the practice
in Canada and abroad. A professor of social work at the University of Toronto, she received the Lifetime Achievement in Social Work Education Award from the Council on Social Work Education in 2013.

LUCIA KOWALUK, MSW’63, was named a Chevalier of the Order of Quebec in June. She has been a leading advocate for social justice issues and heritage preservation in Montreal for close to 50 years.

 

Two for the Rhodes

Wed, 2014-12-24 10:46
by Doug Sweet

McGill’s newest Rhodes Scholars Benjamin Mappin-Kasirer and Joanna Klimczak (Photo: Owen Egan)

No university in Canada has produced more Rhodes Scholars than McGill. Thanks to Joanna Klimczak and Benjamin Mappin-Kasirer, the grand total just got kicked up to 138.

Klimczak is a graduate student in McGill’s International Management Program and the co-founder and chief executive director of MyVision, a global movement dedicated to cultivating student social entrepreneurs. The network boasts 17 chapters in 10 countries and an advisory board that includes Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Muhammad Yunus.

Klimczak and the McGill chapter recently launched Learning is For Everyone, an affordable mentoring and tutoring service for high school students at risk of dropping out. It’s an example, she says, of how business can help the world, not hurt it. “We can do it in a way that makes the world a better place.”

Mappin-Kasirer, fresh from a BA in French literature at Yale, has been plunging into a totally different field at McGill — medicine. “It was really literature that brought me to medicine,” he told The Gazette. Many of his favourite French writers turned out to be doctors too.

He’s hoping to study global health subjects at Oxford along with a dash of bioethics and health politics. Mappin-Kasirer fenced at Yale and his squad won the silver medal at the inaugural U.S. Collegiate Squad Championships. He organized his fencing team to find ways to help out at homeless shelters and with tutoring at nearby schools.

Klimczak’s athletic endeavours tend to be out-of-the-ordinary — from running a half-marathon on the Great Wall of China to competing in dance competitions around the world.

 

A class act

Tue, 2014-12-23 14:08

Photo by Owen Egan

In recent weeks, there has been plenty of news about famous, well-regarded men who have been accused of doing monstrous things. It’s enough to make you wonder if there are any public figures out there who deserve our admiration.

Montrealers know the answer to that question. We’ve been mourning the loss of one such remarkable man. Jean Béliveau was the real deal.

As a hockey player, he’ll be remembered as one of the greats. Winner of 10 Stanley Cups. A member of the 500 goals club. The all-time leading points producer in the Stanley Cup finals (yes, even more than that Gretzky fellow).

Ken Dryden, LLB’73, witnessed Béliveau’s skills firsthand in 1971 as a rookie goaltender, when he and Béliveau proved to be the key figures in an improbable Stanley Cup triumph for the Montreal Canadiens that spring. Béliveau ended his playing career shortly thereafter.

Dryden spoke at Béliveau’s funeral service and testified to his amazing achievements as an athlete, before adding, “Yet it wasn’t really until he retired in 1971 that he became truly special.” Béliveau the player dazzled, but Béliveau the man touched the lives of hundreds through matter-of-fact acts of everyday kindness.

Sportswriter Gare Joyce shared a story about turning up late to an interview with Béliveau and explaining that he had been visiting his terminally ill father-in-law, a Habs fan. To Joyce’s surprise, Béliveau immediately asked for the father-in-law’s number, and left an encouraging message on his answering machine. Later, unsatisfied that he hadn’t spoken to the father-in-law directly, Béliveau tried again and reached him.

From all that I’ve read, this wasn’t Jean Béliveau on a particularly good day. This was standard operating procedure for the guy.

McGill awarded Béliveau an honorary degree in 2006. McGill medical professor David Mulder, MSC’65, a longtime team doctor for the Canadiens and a friend of Béliveau’s, told The Gazette that there were a few who second-guessed the choice. “There were some… who were worried that a hockey player wouldn’t be able to give a convocation address to the graduating class.”

I’ve read Béliveau’s convocation remarks. He hit it out of the park (Béliveau was also a gifted ballplayer).

Béliveau drew parallels between the Canadiens and McGill as longstanding Montreal institutions that people in the city took enormous pride in. He spoke about how wearing the CH jersey “meant accepting a special kind of responsibility… and the social leadership that went beyond a simple sport. We were held to a higher standard.

“There was another famous sweater in this city, one I was aware of and respected ever since I arrived in Montreal in 1953 — and that was the red sweater with a large ‘M’ on the front.” McGill graduates, too, had a responsibility to live up to the traditions of the famous institution they were affiliated with. “Society’s expectations of you are greater.”

Béliveau never went to university. As he urged the young graduates to “bring about positive change,” he reminded them that they had an edge over him. “You have been preparing for this for four or more years.”

He asked a lot of us, but, hey, do you want to be the one who let Jean Béliveau down?

Daniel McCabe, BA’89

A commitment to students

Tue, 2014-12-23 13:19

Principal Suzanne Fortier chatting to students at the Faculty of Science’s “Soup and Science” event which helps promote undergraduate research opportunities (Photo: Owen Egan)

Over the next few years, you’ll be hearing a lot about the McGill Commitment — the University’s pledge to create more innovative, out-of-classroom learning opportunities for its students. McGill News editor Daniel McCabe, BA’89, recently spoke to Principal Suzanne Fortier, BSc’72, PhD’76, to find out more.

How would you characterize the McGill Commitment?

The McGill Commitment is part of our goal to offer our students the best learning environment possible. What takes place in our classrooms provides a very strong foundation for learning, but it does not end there. Our students also want opportunities to put in practice in the local community and beyond what they are learning on campus.

In recent years, McGill has been expanding the number of internships it offers to students in Arts and other faculties and creating more opportunities for undergraduate research in the Faculty of Science and elsewhere. How will the McGill Commitment build on that?

When I came back to McGill last year, I met with all the deans and was impressed with the breadth of opportunities that were already available at the University. I was also impressed to see how many of these opportunities were created by the students themselves. So many of the recent exciting initiatives in sustainability at McGill, for instance, have been student-initiated and student-led. We have a solid base to build on. The McGill Commitment is inspired by what is already going on.  We are not starting from scratch.

What sorts of things can we expect to see in the next few years as a result of the McGill Commitment?

We want to offer students a variety of venues that give them the opportunity to use the knowledge they are acquiring in concrete ways. We do not want to constrain ourselves to a single model, but rather make room for each Faculty to express the McGill Commitment in ways that best fit their discipline, whether it is community internships, research experience, social innovation or entrepreneurship opportunities.

Did you benefit from any special out-of-classroom learning experiences yourself when you were a McGill student?

I started doing research internships right from my second year at McGill. It was very exciting to be working in the lab and I am sure it contributed to my desire to pursue graduate studies. Even though I had very good professors, I remember finding it difficult initially to connect what I was learning in the classroom to whatever it was I was going to do later in my life. When I began working in the lab, that connection became clear to me. I saw how the things I was learning in chemistry or in mathematics could be applied to the research I was doing.

How would you like to see alumni become involved?

We have a very strong and loyal group of alumni all over the world. We have already talked to many of our graduates and asked them to participate in the learning of this new generation of students through, for example, opportunities for internships in their own organizations. The response is very promising. Our alumni are ready to help and to share their own experience and expertise as well as provide financial support.  This sense of community among McGillians is fantastic and is a big part of what makes McGill a great university.

 

These fins are made for walkin’

Tue, 2014-12-23 10:32
by Shannon Palus, BSc’13

The Senegal bichir (Photo: Antoine Morin)

Hans Larsson, BSc’94, and his research team raised fish to walk on land.

The fish in question are Senegal bichirs — long eel-like fish that resemble the creatures that first walked on land 400 million years ago. Together with post-doc students Emily Standen and Trina Du, BSc’11, Larsson, McGill’s Canada Research Chair in Vertebrate Palaeontology, tracked 150 juvenile bichirs. They put some in water and those fish led typical aquatic lives.

The other bichirs were housed in aquariums containing a layer of gravel and wet sand instead of water.  To keep their scales wet, the researchers installed misters — just like those you can find in the produce section of a grocery store.

Over eight months, the team took fish from both groups for walks on a plastic platform. A pair of high-speed cameras observed their movements — 1,000 frames per second — capturing how high they held their heads, where they placed their fins, and how they swished their long bodies. The water-raised fish swung their tails back and forth, and slipped on their fins, as they propelled themselves forward. The land-based group was much better at walking: they held their heads higher, and planted their fins more firmly. They moved “like salamanders,” says Larsson.

The differences in motion were echoed in the anatomies. The researchers later discovered that the bones in the walking fish had shifted to support the new fin motion.

Larsson believes that ancient fish might have learned to crawl out of the water and walk on land with this salamander-like motion too, their bodies changing in response to the new challenge, like athletes taking on a new training regimen. “If this fish can do it,” says Larsson, referring to his walking bichirs, “maybe those other fish could as well.”