C/O Robert Bye, Unsplash
Check out these advocacy and social justice groups on and off campus to start finding your community
Community is a crucial piece of any university experience. It will be even more important this year as we return to campus, particularly for the many students for whom it is not only their first time in Hamilton but also their first time away from home entirely.
Finding and building community can be difficult enough after a move, nevermind during a pandemic. It can be difficult to know where to start. One place might be the issues in the world you’re passionate about. Groups or organizations dedicated to these issues are wonderful places where both community and social justice advocacy can thrive. Furthermore, having a strong sense of community, while also tackling these issues you care about can help you cultivate support systems not only as you navigate university but also in the face of larger issues.
Included below is a list of groups both on and off campus, sorted by the social justice issues they’re concerned with, who are doing some excellent work in the Hamilton community. It should be noted this is not an exhaustive list of all the wonderful groups and organizations in Hamilton; there are many more groups that can be found both on campus and off.
If you identify as 2SLGBTQIA+, are passionate about 2SLGBTQIA+ rights and peer support:
If you’re passionate about anti-racist and anti-oppressive work, check out:
If you’re passionate about climate and environmental justice, check out:
If you’re passionate about food security and nutrition, check out:
If you’re passionate about healthcare and public health, check out:
If you’re passionate about housing and supporting unhoused individuals, check out
C/O ŞULE MAKAROĞLU
A new dress code for the Pulse Fitness Centre now allows students to wear tanktops and sleeveless shirts.
Each year, students at McMaster University pay an annual fee for membership to the Pulse Fitness Centre. At the Pulse, students have access to a wide range of fitness equipment and recreational programming.
In the past, to enter the Pulse, not only was membership required, but students also had to adhere to other rules and regulations of the centre. This included wearing proper athletic footwear and a full shirt with sleeves.
However, on Aug. 25, 2021, the Pulse announced that the centre’s dress code is being updated. Students are now allowed to wear sleeveless shirts and tank tops.
In previous years, the dress code at the Pulse has been up for much discussion amongst students.
Lee-Anne Wilson, wellness and fitness coordinator at the Pulse, said that following complaints, petitions and student feedback that the staff members have received over these years, an update to the dress code now felt like the right time.
Wilson explained that the school had initially decided on the previous dress code due to findings from an old study that dates back over 20 years. The study noted that people tend to be more comfortable in the gym when other members are dressed more conservatively. This was especially the case for novice exercisers or those who are new to the gym and may be feeling more uncomfortable.
With the welcoming of students back on to campus following school closure in March of 2020 due to COVID-19, McMaster now faces two cohorts of undergraduate students who are unfamiliar with campus facilities. In addition to all the previous concerns students had expressed in the past, Wilson explained that the centre felt this was the perfect opportunity to implement a new dress code.
“It felt like this was a good time to do something that student members in particular would be happy about,” said Wilson.
Aside from consulting with other staff members within McMaster, Wilson said that the centre also conducted research into other university gyms and commercial gyms to compare the school’s dress code with others.
“I went out to other universities in Ontario to find out if there were anyone who had a dress code that was as strict as ours and at this point, we were the only one left, so that tells you something,” explained Wilson.
Victoria Cirone, a fourth-year kinesiology student and fitness instructor at the Pulse, said although the previous dress code did not cause too much of a hindrance for her, she is glad that it has been changed.
“I didn’t mind having to wear a t-shirt . . . It really [came down to] when I was really sweating and working hard sort of thing, where I felt it was physically uncomfortable,” Cirone explained.
As of now, nobody has expressed negative concerns about the dress code change or a desire to keep the previous dress code.
On the other hand, Wilson and Cirone both said responses to this change from students have been extremely positive.
Students have already begun considering the new dress code as they arrive at the gym in their workout attire.
“Some people are wearing t-shirts. Some people are wearing tank tops . . . It’s a mix, but it feels like people are wearing what they want to wear,” said Wilson.
Aside from the new dress code, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pulse has also been operating with a different set of protocols. Students who want to use gym equipment at the centre need to sign up for a one and a half-hour time slot at one of three locations. This includes the Sport Hall Pulse, Pop-Up Pulse and Track Pulse.
Sign-ups open 48 hours ahead of time and students are required to always wear a mask indoors.
Although wearing a mask during workouts might not always be comfortable, Cirone expressed that she is in agreement with the protocol as she understands it helps keep everyone safe.
“My thinking is, if this is the way I’ll keep myself and other people safe, so be it,” explained Cirone. “[I]f it’s what we got to do to prevent outbreaks and covid and that sort of thing, I’m all for it.”
Cirone also suggested that students can consider bringing an extra mask to change during their workout in order to feel more comfortable if their masks get too sweaty.
Currently, Cirone has been teaching fitness classes virtually but has also taught outdoor classes during the summer in person.
For Cirone, both in-person and virtual classes have their own set of benefits.
“[When you’re in-person] you get to actually see people face-to-face and there was more engagement and feedback . . . Whereas now, virtually, I get to join people at home where it might be a more comfortable setting for different folks,” said Cirone.
Although navigating fitness programs and other services offered at the Pulse has not been easy with the ongoing pandemic, Wilson expressed that she is most thankful for how cooperative and patient students have been.
“I really [want to] say thank you to the McMaster community and our student members who have just been so fantastic, understanding and accommodating. We’ve been working really hard. It [hasn’t] been easy for anybody in a [public service] business to get through this,” said Wilson. "It’s been a joy to see everybody back in the gym, being active and being able to have that outlet while they’re on campus.”
Ainsley Thurgood/Photo Assistant
Hamilton’s rental licensing pilot provides more uncertainty as students demand safer housing
The path to achieving safe housing for McMaster University’s students has been one studded with hazards such as predatory landlords, broken fire alarm systems and an overall lack of safety. Nearly every student I know has had their fair share of run-ins with landlords asking for too much and giving too little. Popular platforms for student discussion, such as r/McMaster on Reddit and Spotted at Mac on Facebook, are routinely flooded with warnings to beware of Landlord X, Y, Z . . . and the list goes on.
Has quantifiable progress been made thus far? Yes and no.
McMaster students and the McMaster Students Union have been pushing for increased regulation of landlords for years. On Aug. 10, 2021, it seemed as if student voices had finally been heard. The big news? The Hamilton Planning Committee voted in favour of a two-year rental licensing pilot for Wards 1, 8 and parts of Ward 14 in the city. These wards cover the immediate area around Mohawk College and McMaster University.
Essentially, this means that landlords will now be responsible for paying a $215 licensing fee (in addition to a $77 administration fee) and must submit to both internal and external inspections by the city of Hamilton. Right now, the process in dealing with a housing issue is complaint-based and the tenant carries the burden of filing a dispute.
The current system presents its own set of barriers that tip the scales further towards the whims of landlords that don’t always have our best interests in mind. Quite honestly, even if I did face an issue with my landlord, would I be willing to take time away from academic responsibilities, face the threat of eviction and then wait months on end for a maybe-solution? Not at all.
We all know that finding a house in the first place often takes away time from classes, especially when you’re coordinating the schedules of six or more roommates. If you add up the time spent browsing housing posts, negotiating with landlords and booking viewings, the hunt for subpar housing often takes upwards of 50 hours.
Given all this information, does the licensing pilot provide us with a solution? Supposedly, living conditions will improve. Perhaps, affordability will rise. That being said, the consensus of McMaster students living off-campus is that some aspect of regulation is needed. MSU Vice President Education, Siobhan Teel, teamed up with ACORN Hamilton and the Mohawk Student Association to shed light on the need for this pilot project to go through.
However, it can’t be ignored that increasing fees on landlords (whatever glorious purpose it may serve) can have a detrimental effect on students. If landlords really are as predatory and greedy as we all believe, why wouldn’t they raise rent prices to compensate for their increased costs? Is rental licensing the solution we’re looking for, given that rents already seem to be rising on Facebook pages such as McMaster Student Housing Postboard?
Sure, the licensing pilot definitely has the potential to do some real good. It could lead to cleaner and safer homes, and do away with the antiquated, reactive system of tenant complaints through the Landlord and Tenant Board. Yet it almost seems like we’re playing a game of choosing between one bad outcome and another.
While any progress is appreciated, McMaster students deserve a holistic, all-encompassing solution that solves the issue of both unsafe and unfairly priced housing. Until then, off to the bidding wars we go. The prize: a closet of a room with pests, no fire safety and all the wonderful things McMaster housing has to offer.
C/O Mary Luciani
As COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, Art Crawl returns from its long hiatus and brings back a sense of community
Artistry. Magic. Community. These are a few words that may come to people’s minds when they think of Art Crawl. After many months in lockdown and just in time for back to school, Art Crawl made its return to James Street North. On the second Friday of every month, public health guidelines permitting, restaurants, cafés and retail shops on the street, as well as artists and other vendors, will gather on James North to create a mystical event filled with food, music, art and handcrafted goods.
Art Crawl started years ago as a grassroots event by the vendors and artists on James Street North. It is important to stress it is not a single person who is behind the event but rather a melting pot of many creatives in the community. It was also this community that drew Mary Luciani, the owner of The Pale Blue Dot, to Art Crawl for the past 10 years and inspired her to set up her shop on James Street North.
Luciani began attending Art Crawl as a self-taught painter to share her pieces with the community. She was excited to connect with strangers and exchange stories with passers-by and other artists. Through these interactions, she felt she was able to form an authentic connection with the local community and the city. Today, she sells sustainable and ethical everyday items such as bamboo toothbrushes, compostable gloss, antiques and vintage clothing at the Pale Blue Dot. Students can also use code MACSTUDENT10 for 10% off at The Pale Blue Dot.
Luciani also started and manages the Instagram account on.jamesnorth which showcases the lovely shops and faces behind the James North community. The account occasionally organizes giveaways for supporters and shoppers as well.
Given all the love, enthusiasm and pride for Art Crawl, Luciani and other vendors and goers of the fair were delighted to see it come back in August for the first time since its closure in late 2019 due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“I couldn’t even tell you how magical it felt just to see familiar faces on the street and see the community back. It wasn’t revived to what it used to be just yet, but it was such a beautiful start,” Luciani said.
The community missed it very much; the crowds were energetic and emotional. People were tapping their toes to the live music, enjoying the physical company of each other and immersing in the nostalgia and regained sense of normalcy during what has been an unpredictable and distressful year and a half.
“As a young artist 10 years ago, standing up on the street, there’s nowhere else that I would have the opportunity to do that . . . to showcase my paintings,” Luciani said.
Art Crawl inspires and cultivates the spirit of local businesses and the arts in Hamilton. For those who are living in Hamilton for the first time, it can be a great introduction to the pockets of communities that exist off campus. With the next Art Crawl event coming up soon, students can watch out for details on on.jamesnorth on Instagram and for more giveaways.
“Having a space where I could just come, show up and present my work . . .and connect with community members, I think it’s so wonderful,” Luciani said.
Graphic By: Yoohyun Park/Production Coordinator
As varsity sports returns to McMaster, the women’s soccer team is ready to take on new challenges in the upcoming season.
After a disappointing season in 2019, in which the McMaster Marauders lost in the Ontario University Athletics quarterfinals against the Western Mustangs in London, the players are eager to make a comeback, as an exciting season with 10 league games is approaching.
The Marauders have been placed in the central division, which will host opponent schools such as Algoma University, Laurentian University, University of Toronto, Nipissing University and Ryerson University.
The first two games of the season come against the Algoma Thunderbirds, who will have a two night stay in Hamilton for the start of the OUA season. The opening games will take place Sept. 25-26 at Ron Joyce Stadium.
The Marauders will likely slide into their games with confidence for the opening games, having a clear winning record against the Thunderbirds in previous years. McMaster has won every single game against Algoma, keeping a 12-0 conference record ahead of the opening games. The most notable win against the Thunderbirds was a dominant 12-1 win in the 2014-2015 season at Sault Ste. Marie.
The next opponent the Marauders will face are the Laurentian Voyageurs. McMaster will host the first game on Oct. 1 at the Ron Joyce Stadium, then travel to Sudbury for the away game on Oct. 3. Although McMaster has not against played the Voyageurs before, they will be hoping to grab as many points as possible, considering that Laurentian had only two wins in their season last year, while being defeated a total of eight times.
Of all potential opponents in the regular season, it’s speculated that the Marauders’ biggest challenge may be the Toronto Varsity Blues. Although Toronto did place fourth in their eastern division in last year’s season, they excelled through the playoffs and made it to the finals, where they lost to the York Lions. This high standard of soccer only promises an exciting match between the Blues and the Marauders. The first fixture will take place on Oct. 6 in Hamilton and the second game will take place four days later in Toronto.
Joelle Chackal, the Marauders’ central striker, is confident that the team has the ability to make it past the playoffs and improve on the team's previous records.
“I think that there is a big chance of us progressing into the play-offs and making it far, but we have to take it one step at a time. It is also a very young squad, composed of lower-year students, so we have a lot of potential going forward. WI am very excited to take part in the season and I am looking forward to it,” said Chackal.
When asked about the toughest challenge in the upcoming season, Chackal reiterated that the Toronto Varsity Blues would likely pose the biggest challenge.
“I think that out of all the teams, Toronto would be the toughest one. They have the biggest financing and have had an extremely strong team in the past couple of years. But I am positive that we will do our best to prevent any unwanted result against them,” explained Chackal.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic may have disrupted some progress in women's soccer for over a year, the new season brings nothing but excitement and confidence among the squad, who are looking forward to experiencing university-level soccer.
C/O Rania Saxena
Singer-songwriter Rania Saxena discusses her musical journey, passion for outer space, and upcoming EP
By: Edwin Thomas, Contributor
This article marks the beginning of Behind the Beat, a new series highlighting Hamilton-based music artists, their musical journeys and recent work.
Emerging singer-songwriter Rania Saxena’s creative journey began when she was very young. Growing up as an only child, Saxena took to making up games and drawing to keep herself entertained. Looking to explore new creative outlets, she also began taking guitar lessons. Her guitar teacher encouraged her to sing while playing to improve her technique, which unintentionally improved her vocal abilities as well.
In high school, Saxena surrounded herself in a group of friends who wrote original songs and performed at their school. Her peers inspired her to start writing her own songs. Her first few performances were as gifts for her close friends and family, with the most notable being a song she wrote and performed for her father’s birthday. She received a lot of praise from people attending the event for how relatable the song was, which encouraged her to continue writing and performing songs.
“I realized that music can not only be a way for me to express myself, but for other people to find some of their truth in my words . . . that was pivotal,” said Saxena.
She continued playing original and cover songs for her friends and family, which eventually led to her performing original songs at her high school’s talent shows.
In 2018, Saxena began attending McMaster University’s Health Sciences program. She found the atmosphere to be very welcoming, encouraging her to grow and try new things. She found herself surrounded again by musically inclined peers as part of the Health Sciences Musical. She recalled the excitement and energy she felt performing in her first performance in 2019, and later on in her 2021 performance in BHScreentime. She considers her peers in the musical her family and an integral part of her university experience.
Saxena started publishing her music to Soundcloud during her time at McMaster, using the microphone on her earphones to record and Garageband to produce. Her early songs involved only her voice and a ukulele as they produced the best quality given her resources at the time. These songs were heavily influenced by artists such as Lorde, Hozier, and Dodie. Later on, in songs like don’t you need a break, Saxena expanded her musical repertoire, incorporating drum loops, piano chords, and a plethora of other sounds in her songs.
She began to develop her writing style, incorporating events from her life, such as heartbreak, and her admiration of nature into the lyrics. Another major influence on her writing style came from her grandfather’s passion for poetry. She started with couplets which later evolved into free-form poetry that she used as a foundation for her lyrics. Her songwriting process typically begins with either the poems she has written or the melodies she has recorded in Voice Memos on her phone. Additionally, she made original album covers for her singles using paintings and digital art she created. After releasing her first few singles, she performed mini-setlists in fundraisers for the Health Sciences Musical at the McMaster University Student Centre.
In her songwriting process, she often draws inspiration from her fascination with space. The imagery in her lyrics is used to illustrate the likeness between the grandeur and vastness of outer space to her experiences with love and heartbreak, seen in the song cosmic avenue. She often uses space-related symbols to signify the importance of events in her life, such as comparing her mother’s love and care for her to the moonlight that wraps around the earth at night, in mama moonlight, a birthday tribute to her mother. Cosmic Queries by Neil deGrasse Tyson in particular has been an important inspiration for songs in her upcoming EP.
Over time, her music has evolved to include a variety of themes, including self-conflict and frustration in her most recent single, speculation, where she described an inner turmoil during a darker time in her life. She found her relationship with music became a therapeutic outlet for her.
“What started out as a fun hobby has turned into a form of therapy for myself. What started off as me just goofing around and trying out different things has ended up with me using song-writing and composition as a way for me to process my emotions,” explained Saxena.
The new circumstances of the pandemic, however, limited her access to the resources she used during her time at McMaster, so she invested in a midi keyboard, guitar and microphone to continue making music. Though the pandemic hindered her plans, she used her spare time to teach herself how to produce, mix, and master records using Logic Pro through YouTube tutorials. She found the experience to be very valuable to her musical comprehension. It was also at this time when she started writing songs for her EP.
When asked about advice that she would give to future artists, she said it is important to find your voice.
“Why aim to be the second Billie Eilish when you can be the first you?” she asked.
This is a mantra she has taken to heart to find her own music style. She encourages other artists to experiment with rhythms and sounds outside of their comfort zone to help them find their style.
Her first EP is set to come out later this year, drawing influence from Sarah Kinsley, Lorde, and Clairo. She has kept most of its details under wraps but revealed there will be rock-influenced songs as well. As for her future after McMaster, Saxena plans to continue her music career, hoping to make a debut album. Additionally, she has not been able to perform in-person since the pandemic but looks forward to more performances in the future.
Her music is available on most music platforms and can be found here.
As McMaster students make their way back to campus, intramurals will be making a subsequent comeback.
Preceding the COVID-19 pandemic, the McMaster University Athletics and Recreation department organized a wide variety of intramural sports on campus for each fall term. These sports ranged from indoor activities such as volleyball, to typical outdoor activities like soccer. This year the intramural program will look different.
For most sports, the number of players on the teams will be limited. This is to mitigate potential community spread and to limit the number of player interactions as much as possible. The sports that are affected by these limitations are soccer, volleyball, basketball and floorball. The number of players per team is different for each sport.
According to the COVID-19 Back To Mac website, those planning for fall intramurals can expect to have a variety of outdoor intramural sports, including soccer, spike ball, ultimate frisbee, touch rugby and softball. These activities were chosen based on safety considerations and the ability to deliver them safely without compromising the experience for students.
Presently, the Athletics and Recreation department have delayed any official announcement regarding the intramurals for the fall term.
“Safety is their number one priority . . . We are still finalizing some protocol details as per the provincial government announcement,” said Peter McComie, the intramural sports coordinator.
Many of these decisions involved the inclusion of vaccine passports around Ontario for non-essential activities, allowing for further close contact between students.
"We must go through the McMaster health and safety channels before we can finalize our departmental plans and put anything out to the public about our recreational programs. Student and participant safety is the highest priority,” explained McComie.
The McMaster Intramural website has since provided further updates, having listed a total of 15 sports for registration throughout the fall. Out of the 16 sports, three of them are remote while the other 13 are going to take place on campus.
The three remote categories of sports are fantasy leagues, E-sports and National Football League picks. Within the E-sports category, FIFA, Madden, Rocket League and chess will be available to players to sign up for.
Every sport will offer a “PlayFun” league which is a division for those who just want to play casually, offering a social and active lifestyle blend. However, sports such as basketball, soccer and volleyball will also offer a “PlayComp” league, which is a division build for those interested in playing in a more competitive and higher effort league.
Thirteen other sports will take place on campus, which include indoor and outdoor activities. The indoor activities include softball, soccer, ultimate frisbee, touch rugby and spikeball. The outdoor activities include innertube water polo, pickleball, badminton, table tennis, volleyball, basketball and floorball.
Pricing for the fall intramurals ranges from free to $120 per team. The remote sports — such as the E-sports leagues or NFL picks — are the cheapest, compared to softball and waterpolo, which are the most expensive at $120 and $110 per team, respectively.
The season length for the fall intramurals differs from sport to sport. The outdoor sports will start in mid-September and will take place until early November due to the challenging weather conditions that occur mid-November onwards. Indoor sports will have their seasons shifted a month later, starting at the end of October and finishing by the beginning of December. However, the remote leagues will take place from September to December.
Registration for the McMaster fall intramurals will begin on Sept. 8 for outdoor sports and remote leagues, whereas indoor registration will begin on Sept. 19. Every student that wishes to participate in this semester's intramurals can do so through the IMLeagues website by creating an account and registering their team through the portal. If a student doesn't have a team and wishes to register solo, they can register as a free agent on the website and will be placed into a team.
After a year and a half without sports, Nikolas Motruck and the rest of the guys have returned and they’re hungry for a championship
Last year’s university sports season getting cancelled due to COVID-19 was a tough blow for athletes around the world. Pro sports leagues temporarily shut down, most university sports operated in little or no capacity and athletes were suffering greatly.
McMaster University hasn’t seen its athletes compete since sports were cancelled in early 2020, and athletes feared they would not see competition in 2021 either, until the Ontario University Athletics officially announced that there would be a season this fall.
The McMaster Marauders baseball team has been especially eager to make their return to the field after a somewhat disappointing conclusion to last year’s season. With Most Valuable Player winner Nikolas Motruck and the Cy Young award, awarded to the league’s best pitcher, winner Julian Tymochko, the team managed to fight their way to the semifinals before losing to the Laurier Golden Hawks, who would end up finishing as league champions.
Despite falling short of their championship aspirations in 2019, the season had numerous high points for the team, with Motruck’s MVP award among them. Despite finishing the season with an incredible .581 batting average and a .930 slugging percentage, Motruck was caught off guard after learning he had won the league’s most prestigious individual award.
“I was kind of speechless, I wasn’t really expecting that,” said Motruck. “I had a long road to get there from first year, but we had put in a lot of work . . . I was really enjoying my time, and it was really just icing on the cake when they announced that I had won the MVP. It was something I had never thought was possible.”
Following such a strong season, Motruck was eager to return to play in 2020, but never got that chance. For 2021, he remained hopeful that there would be a season in his fifth and final year. He never stopped working to continue getting better. Knowing that there would be one final opportunity to get on the field before graduating was extremely meaningful.
“I was kind of up in the air about possibly having played my last season and not knowing it. That was tough news to take. . . Just being able to do it one more time before having to graduate is such a great feeling,” explained Motruck.
When asked about his goals going into his last season, Motruck made his aspirations very clear: winning. He stressed how much time and effort the team has put in to prepare for this season, and believes that this could be a very special year for McMaster baseball.
“We’ve all been working so hard for this since we’ve been here, so the goal is absolutely to win the championship. To say that I want to win [the title] is an understatement,” said Motruck.
After having finished the last year’s regular season with nine wins and three losses, the team has their sights set on bigger things this year. Should Motruck have a season anything like that which earned him the MVP award, the team should have an opportunity to do some real damage. For a team who came ever so close to the finals just prior to the pandemic, they will finally get their long-awaited opportunity for redemption.
C/O Georgia Kirkos
#HopeandHealingCanada installation by Tracey-Mae Chambers reflects on how we recover from the weight of the pandemic and ongoing tragedies
How do you mend a broken world under the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing tragedies in the news? How do we hope and heal again in these times? Métis sculptor and installation artist Tracey-Mae Chambers created #HopeandHealingCanada after contemplating these questions and recognizing the need to reconnect society.
#HopeandHealingCanada is an installation project Chambers began this summer to promote conversation, reflection and reconnection between people and with the environment during the current pandemic. The only material used in the installation is a vibrant red string. The string is intermingled and merged with the surrounding environment and it is up for only a limited amount of time—usually constructed and taken down on the same day.
One of her latest installations of the project can be found outside of the McMaster Museum of Art and it will be up throughout the fall semester. This is Chambers’ 18th stop out of 63 venues she will visit. The project was originally intended to be showcased only in Ontario; however, it has since gained great attention and will now be displayed in locations across Canada.
The string used in the piece illustrates a tangible connection in a time when many are deprived of real, physical interactions. The colour red, as the colour of blood, symbolizes powerful emotions such as passion, courage and anger that unite people together.
“During [the] COVID-19 [pandemic], the community became very small for us . . . and I felt like I didn’t know how to get back to the community at large,” said Chambers.
Through her work, she wanted to emphasize not only reconnection with friends and family, but also new connections with strangers. As part of this narrative, she also reuses the string to build the next installation after it is taken down and unravelled.
“So, the string itself is actually travelling the country too and I like that because the stories themselves that happen at each place go with the string,” said Chambers.
The string has already travelled to multiple parks, galleries and art museums. Chambers sets no limits when it comes to the kinds of environment she is willing to work in and no two installations look the same. In fact, the painstaking and transformative nature of the project is part of the message: to adapt to the new realities of the pandemic.
Before the installation at each venue gets taken down, she documents it through photographs. At the end of the project, the photographs will be used to create an art exhibition as well as a book. Additionally, each photograph will be accompanied by a story related to the location.
For example, in the photograph of her installation in Black Creek Pioneer Village, the red string can be seen forming a long house over rows of desks in a classroom. The classroom is located inside a residential school which was the template for the model of residential schools Egerton Ryerson had designed and promoted. The composition of the installation represents the lost and forgotten children being brought back to their homes and communities. Building the installation at historic locations such as this is one of the ways Chambers has found opportunities to heal from the intergenerational trauma experienced by her Indigenous community.
Stories of the Indigenous communities are important to the project because there is still much awareness that needs to be raised and healing to be done from the history and treatment of First Nations communities in Canada. When the remains of 215 Indigenous children were discovered at Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia, Chambers felt confused by Canadians who were surprised by the news.
“I think settler culture is feeling this massive guilt and shock, but the Indigenous communities knew those graves were there, so it’s shocking to me that Canadians didn’t know that,” she said.
However, for both sides involved, the settler culture and Indigenous community, Chambers hopes her exhibit will be part of the healing and conversation. For Chambers personally, the project has been important to managing both the pandemic and processing the long, painful history of her ancestors and community. It has also helped her to feel more powerful, get back on her feet and realize the importance of finding support, connection and community.
Looking ahead, Chambers is excited to travel across the country with her project and capture more pictures of the installation in the winter. When #HopeandHealingCanada is complete, she wishes to continue to explore the stories of residential schools. Currently, she is still trying to make sense of the way in which lost Indigenous children are being discussed, as though they are abandoned and left unprotected.
“There is a lot of information to try to sort through and come to terms with, but it's a thought in process that will end up in something,” said Chambers.
Chambers’ installation reminds us of hope and healing amidst global unrest. More importantly, it provides a space to reflect about our past and future relationship with the Indigenous community. It can feel difficult to reach out to communities you do not belong to or feel unwelcomed in. However, Chambers and her art relay the message this does not need to be the case. She encourages students to visit Indigenous art centres or friendship centres and reach out. As illustrated by #HopeandHealingCanada, there are new connections waiting to happen all around us.
Travis Nguyen/Photo Editor
After a year of inactivity, the McMaster Students Union Emergency First Response Team is running again
According to their Facebook page, the McMaster Students Union Emergency First Response Team is “a 24/7 service that provides confidential medical care to anyone in need on the McMaster University campus.” With approximately thirty volunteers working to provide emergency medical services, EFRT has been a fixture on campus since the 1980s.
EFRT is a group of undergraduate students who are trained to respond to a variety of medical emergencies. According to EFRT Program Director Ivy Quan, all EFRT volunteers have been trained as first responders and emeregency medical responders under the Red Cross. Some of the more senior members of EFRT have further medical training as well.
During the 2020-2021 school year, EFRT was inactive due to COVID-19.
“[EFRT wasn’t] really on call last year because campus was closed and everything moved online, so the responders weren't in Hamilton to run shifts,” explained Quan.
According to Quan, EFRT dedicated its time over the course of the last year towards training a new batch of responders. This year, given that campus has reopened, EFRT is back on call.
“We do have to put in a lot of steps to make sure that our responders as well as the patients that we see are safe [from COVID-19],” said Kiran Roy, EFRT's public relations coordinator.
According to Roy, these safety steps involve mandatory personal protective equipment training for responders, mandatory masks for patients and bystanders — unless a mask would interfere with treatment for the patient — and two different rounds of COVID-19 screening questions.
Roy and Quan both emphasized the importance of the role that EFRT plays on campus.
“We know our way around campus because we're part of the university,” Roy explained.
This allows EFRT to get to calls very quickly, making the response time faster for patients.
Along with the logistical benefits of calling EFRT, Roy and Quan both stressed the emotional benefits as well.
“I think it probably creates a sense of ease amongst the patients that we meet because they know that we're just like them and we're also students. We understand what they're going through from a mental health point of view,” said Roy.
According to Quan, EFRT receives approximately 500 calls a year. While many of these calls are medical emergencies, their role on campus goes beyond this as well.
“We also do a lot of calls to, [for example], first years, who are worried about something; we also are a mental health service,” explained Quan.
“We may be an emergency response team, but if anyone is unsure about their health, [unsure about] their safety, even just a little bit not sure what's going on, they can always call us and we're happy to come,” said Roy.
Applications to join EFRT will open in early October and the recruitment process will take place from October to January.
“We're so excited to be back on call,” Quan said.
As EFRT responders welcome a year of getting back into action, McMaster students can also look forward to seeing the team all around campus once again.