UBC services to DTES affected by Games

Image by Flickr user M-J Milloy

Image from Flickr user M-J Milloy

Originally story published in The Ubyssey

The UBC peninsula can feel far removed from the Downtown Eastside, Canada’s poorest postal code. The university is often lauded as an academic beacon, while the DTES is stereotyped as a blemish on the face of a polished and Olympic-ready Vancouver.

But through several innovative projects, many groups within the UBC community regularly connect with the much-maligned area. These projects help alleviate some of the neighbourhood’s problems and challenge its one-dimensional reputation as a slum.

“It’s not the mandate of the university, which is academically focused, to somehow solve poverty,” said Mary Holmes, who runs the Urban Aboriginal Community Kitchen Garden at the UBC Farm. “Still, our emphasis is around paving the pathway with kindness.”

As thousands of visitors swarm the city in February, many projects will feel the impact and be forced to adapt. The Ubyssey spoke to some of those planning for the Olympic rush. Continue reading


Tibetan monks build a sand mandala at the MOA

Technophiles miss out on the message of a transient, ancient art
Originally published in The Ubyssey & theubyssey.ca on Nov. 19, 2009 || Culture

Tsengdok Rinpoche braves the cold ocean to complete Tibetan ritual

Listen to the audio version of this story

For seven days, Tibetan monks hunched over a circular outline at the Museum of Anthropology at UBC. Using cone-like metal tools called chak-pur, they crafted an elaborate design using millions of grains of coloured sand.

On Sunday Tsengdok Rinpoche, from Vancouver’s Tsengdok Monastery, stood over the finished product: an intricate work of art known as a sand mandala.

Using a brush, he began to sweep it into a blur.

But the destruction of the design is part of the traditional Tibetan ritual.

“The meaning of the mandala is to remind people that nothing in life is permanent,” said Rinpoche through a translator. “Don’t get too attached, even to the most beautiful things.”

From November 8 to 15, five visiting monks from the Gaden Jangtse Monastery in India created and displayed the mandala in the Great Hall of the museum. Two Vancouver-based monks, including Rinpoche, hosted the quintet as part of their 2009 Sacred Art Tour.

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Students chase sustainability: Commerce committee pushes for a greener curriculum at UBC

Trevor Wheatley, external director, steps up to the podium to moderate the industry panel

Trevor Wheatley, external director, steps up the podium to moderate the industry panel


This article was originally published in The Ubyssey

When Jennifer Matchett says things need to change, she means business.

Matchett is the co-director of the Commerce Undergraduate Society’s committee on sustainability. She is one of several students at the Sauder School of Business who want their curriculum to include more dialogue about environmental sustainability.

“We feel that the major players in any environmental movement are corporations,” said Matchett. “If they don’t change, nothing’s really going to change.”

Business students gathered on November 6 at the Liu Institute for Global Issues for the second annual Chasing Sustainability Conference. Along with guest speakers, they discussed strategies for going beyond “green-washing” and striving toward ecologically responsible businesses practices.

Brian Grant, an attendee and fourth-year accounting student, said he started thinking about ethical business practices after watching a hard-hitting documentary called The Corporation, which compares corporations to psychopaths.

“Nowadays, people are reacting to the fact that businesses have a bad rap,” said Grant.

Despite the crisp collars, neat ties and professional footwear, the event did not look like a usual conference.

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UBC Grad students entitled to three-week vacation

The statue outside of the Thea Koerner Graduate Student Centre

The statue outside of the Thea Koerner Graduate Student Centre



Graduate students are now entitled to take three weeks of vacation per academic year. The decision was made by the UBC Vancouver Senate last Wednesday.

Before this year, UBC was the only major Canadian university without an official policy regulating graduate students’ vacation time. The new policy, effective immediately, creates clear and formal expectations for both students and supervisors, replacing the unofficial and occasionally unfair arrangements of the past.

“It took us a while to get the wording quite right,” said Jim Thompson, the associate dean of graduate policy and program review. Thompson explained that the Academic Policy Committee reviewed the documents of other universities, ultimately crafting original wording that meets national standards without being exceedingly rigid.”

Read more…

This article is published in The Ubyssey.

Help for the Homeless in British Columbia

What if we chose to see the homeless as more than just statistics?

What if we chose to see the homeless as more than just statistics?

Last Friday I sat down with Monte Paulsen, the investigative editor of the web-based magazine The Tyee.

For three years, Paulsen has been writing solution-oriented journalism on homelessness in BC, talking to everyone from politicians and outreach workers to people living beneath the Science World docks. We spoke before his free public talk, “Ending Homelessness: What Works,” an event that was co-sponsored by The Tyee and the Museum of Vancouver, and timed to coincide with the region’s fourth annual Homelessness Action Week.

Paulsen wants to prove, beyond an optimistic sentiment, that the province can end homelessness for the same amount it currently spends to maintain it.

To read my article on Paulsen’s ideas, click here.  (There’s also a link to hear audio)

Group confronts social stigma with humour

“When I first heard my dad had a mental illness, I thought ‘how could someone so weird get any weirder?’” - Ten-year-old Jonathan Granirer

“When I first heard my dad had a mental illness, I thought ‘how could someone so weird get any weirder?’” - Ten-year-old Jonathan Granirer

Click here to see the original story in the Ubyssey



Nearly 500 people attended the two Stand Up for Mental Health comedy shows on Monday at Frederick Wood Theatre and the Totem Park Ballroom. The campus comedy day coincided with National Mental Illness Awareness Week, a campaign that aims to break down the stigma surrounding mental illness.

Karine St-Jean stood before the microphone clutching her cue cards. Most of the audience wasn’t much older than her, and many without seats sat close by and cross-legged on the floor. The 16-year-old comic wore heart-shaped earrings, which framed her cherub cheeks, and a bright yellow shirt.

“I took this anger management class and they told us to do the square–breathing technique when we get angry,” she said. “That really pissed me off.”

The crowd erupted in laughter, showing support for St-Jean and the other comedians that highlighted the humour in a diverse list of mental illnesses.

Continue reading