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McGill Reporter
March 21, 2002 - Volume 34 Number 13
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Women on the Hill

PHOTO: Owen Egan

Fifteen female political science students from McGill are spending the day on Parliament Hill, watching women MPs up close as they go about their business. The brainchild of political science student Chi Nguyen, the "Women in House" program is now in its second year.

The idea, says Nguyen, is to give young women an idea of what life is actually like for someone active in national politics. More specifically, the notion is to give students a taste of what is involved for women in what is still "very much a male-dominated field," says Nguyen. "[The MPs] have been through it and it's an opportunity to hear about how they experience things on a day-to-day basis."

Nguyen spent weeks organizing the trip, "sending out letters and harassing MPs." Fifteen female MPs agreed to be shadowed for a day by a political science student, among them NDP leader Alexa McDonough and Canadian Alliance MP Betty Hinton, the opposition critic for multiculturalism and the status of women. The trip to Ottawa is now in its second day. Yesterday, the students met with Governor General Adrienne Clarkson and Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett (who chairs the Liberal Women's Caucus) and toured both Parliament and the Supreme Court. The trip was sponsored by the Political Science Students' Association.

Nguyen says her dream job is to be mayor of her native Toronto.

Hmm. One day, she might well find herself being shadowed by a young woman who wants to see how Nguyen handles media scrums and Question Period barbs.

Where the flowers tell the story

Cousins of these orchids once bloomed in the Miron Quarry
PHOTO: Philip Greenspun

Close your eyes and imagine, for a moment, what Montreal looked like in 1820, before the Lachine Canal, before industrialization, when most of the land was wild and the rest was in orchards and farms.

Did you imagine Parc La Fontaine and Mount Royal as forests rich with native ferns, wild ginseng, and spring wildflowers; St. Denis Street and Point St. Charles as swamps thick with aquatic plants; and the Miron Quarry as a bog filled with Labrador tea, native rhododendrons and several species of rare native orchids?

If you did, then you've probably already sneaked a look at an enchanting new website located on the Macdonald Campus homepage, www.mcgill.ca/macdonald.

Click on the McGill University Herbarium to go to The Lost Flora of Montreal/La flore disparue de Montreal and the Montreal known to Andrew F. Holmes.

Holmes may be best known as the University's first dean of medicine but he was also an avid botanist. The 560 specimens of largely Montreal plants he collected in the 1820s formed the nucleus of the McGill University Herbarium when Holmes donated his collection in 1856. Today, the herbarium, with 130,000 specimens from around the world, is the second largest and one of the oldest in the country.

But what is so remarkable about the Holmes collection is that it is one of the scant keys we have today to what Montreal's natural habitat looked like 180 years ago. It is also remarkable that the specimens - albeit in virtual form - are now so widely accessible.

Thanks to the work of plant science professor Marcia Waterway, project manager Patrick Nantel and six students - and the support of Industry Canada's Digital Collections program and the G. Stewart Brown Fund - Montrealers may now walk the bogs, riversides and fields that Holmes explored.

Who would have guessed that an aloe-looking plant called fan clubmoss grew on what is now Papineau Street, then the lush Papineau Woods.

Yes, there was much flora lost, but at least it is no longer silent and Waterway and Nantel would like to invite the McGill community to the web site launch. There will be a large-screen tour of the site, a tour of the herbarium, a demonstration on how the plants are prepared and a light lunch.

RSVP at 398-5454 or chester@macdonald.mcgill.ca. The launch takes place Tuesday, April 2, at 11:30 am in the Faculty Lounge of the Macdonald-Stewart Building. See www.mcgill.ca/maps/?Building=446 for direction. Take the 10:40 shuttle bus at the Roddick Gates and the 2 pm shuttle for the return ride.

Queerly cause for celebration

Author Shyam Selvadurai
PHOTO: Sari Ginsberg

Queer McGill - a student club that caters to bisexuals, gays, lesbians and the transgendered - is busy celebrating its 30th anniversary.

Anyone walking past the Roddick Gates would be hard-pressed to miss the club's rainbow-coloured birthday banner that's spread out half-way down from the Arts Building, proclaiming, "Queer McGill: Celebrate Diversity."

"We put the banner up every year to express that there are queer people on campus," says Queer McGill administrator Patrick Padgen.

Originally founded as Gay McGill in 1972, the club began with only a few dozen members. Renamed Queer McGill in 1998, to better reflect its current diversity, the club now counts over 400 members.

Queer McGill organizes various on-campus discussion groups and social events. The organization also runs Queer Line, a help and information phone service. To commemorate its third decade, Queer McGill has been holding a series of events around campus over the last two weeks.

Three events remain. Queer McGill's panel on same-sex marriage, a topic much in the news these days, takes place tonight at 7 pm.

Entitled "Til Death Do Us Part: Queer Marriage in the New Millennium," the panel will include religious studies faculty lecturer Scott Kline, an expert on sexual ethics; Michael Hendricks, who, with partner René LeBoeuf, is currently fighting in Quebec Superior Court for the right to marry; and Donald Boisvert, Concordia University's dean of students and a specialist in gay spirituality. The discussion, held in Room 145 of the Arts Building, will be followed by a small wine and cheese reception.

On March 22 at 3 pm, gay Toronto author Shyam Selvadurai will be giving a talk about his critically acclaimed novels, Funny Boy and Cinnamon Gardens. The event, co-sponsored by the Department of English, is being held in Room 160 of the Arts Building.

Queer McGill's celebration ends with a large party called the Homo Hop on March 23, from 9 pm until 2 am. Everyone is welcome at the third-floor ballroom of the University Centre (3480 McTavish St.). Admission is $5 at the door. For more information on Queer McGill, please call 398-2106, Mon. to Fri., from 11am to 4 pm Queer Line can be reached at 514-398-6822, Mon. to Sat., from 8 pm to 11 pm Queer McGill's web site can be consulted at: http//ssmu.mcgill.ca/queer/.

CKUT to star on CBC

Definitely Not the Opera host Nora Young

CKUT is collaborating with CBC Radio's Definitely Not The Opera (DNTO) in the national broadcaster's annual Big Break contest. DNTO has been travelling across Canada in search of new talent, and organizing concerts in a variety of cities as a way of spotlighting different music scenes.

On March 30, DNTO will broadcast its Big Break concert from Montreal's Café Campus. Co-organized by CKUT, the event will feature the three finalists of the Quebec portion of the Big Break contest: Annabelle Chvostek, Offsides and Rosekill.

The acts will compete for a chance to record a demo CD at the CBC's Montreal studios. In Quebec, over 250 musical acts vied for a spot on Big Break. Two members of the jury that selected the Big Break finalists are from CKUT - fundraising coordinator Erin Whittaker and music director Steve Guimond. All the proceeds from the Café Campus concert will benefit McGill's radio station.

"It's a great opportunity for CKUT to raise funds," Whittaker says. "We'll also gain some national exposure," she adds, noting the March 30 edition of DNTO will feature news segments prepared by CKUT volunteers.

DNTO will also highlight CKUT's importance within Montreal's cultural scene. PrymTym, from CKUT's Positive Vibe show, will co-host the Big Break event, alongside DNTO's Nora Young.

The Big Break event will be a good lead-in to CKUT's annual fundraising drive, which is on from April 4 to 14. The station hopes to raise $60,000. For every $25 donated to CKUT, contributors will be eligible for one entry for the grand prize draw. Grand prizes include a $600 one year-membership to the YMCA, two ViaRail passes and a year's supply of free beer, courtesy of McAusland Breweries.

Tickets for the Café Campus concert can be purchased at the door or from CKUT. The Café Campus is at 57 Prince Arthur St. Doors open at 2:30 pm For more information on Big Break, please consult www.cbc.ca/bigbreak. Pledges or inquiries about CKUT's fundraising drive can also be sent to Erin Whittaker at funding@ckut.ca.

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