Photos C/O @QuidditchCanada

By: Adriana Skaljin

The name Harry Potter is one familiar to most, given its prevalence in pop culture. The Harry Potter franchise’s beloved sport, Quidditch, has made its way into the Muggle (non-magical) world, having become a semi-professional sport.

On March 23 and 24, Quidditch Canada held their 2019 National Championship at Ron Joyce Stadium and Alumni Field. Fifteen teams from across Canada, coming from Ontario, Montreal, Edmonton and British Columbia, participated in the two-day tournament, bringing the sport to life.

“This is the second time that we’ve held the Nationals in Hamilton,” said Bethan Morgan, events manager for Quidditch Canada. “Last year, we held it at Tim Hortons Field. It is exciting to be back in Hamilton for a second year in a row.”

 

Morgan has been playing the sport for eight years, and has loved watching the sport grow. She began getting involved with Quidditch due to her love for the fandom and the impact that it had on her life.

“It makes me really happy to see [Quidditch] turn into a competitive sport… [one that] has become international,” explained Morgan. “It has grown a lot in Canada and it is cool seeing people come from all over to play.”

It is amazing to see the ways in which a community of Harry Potter fanatics has turned into a community of athletes. The sport encourages players from all backgrounds and demographics to participate, creating a diverse and welcoming environment.

“There are people that love Harry Potter and then people who have never even watched the movies,” said Morgan. “People from all different backgrounds and genders are welcome. I love how gender-inclusive the sport is, in comparison to others.”

This combination of community and a genuine love for the series and its fictional world is what drives the existence of Quidditch competitions, such as the one just held at McMaster.

C/O Kristen Walsh

 

“It is a very supporting and welcoming community of people and I think that is what motivated me to stay the sport, and become a better athlete,” said Morgan.

The game is made up of several positions: chasers, who drive the ball and get them through the hoops, beaters who combine tackling with strategy, and seekers. Each position appeals to different strengths, allowing people to excel and specialize in different areas of the sport.

“This is a sport that anyone can play,” said Morgan. “Our athletes train as though it is a professional sport, and I think that a lot of people are surprised when we tackle because it is a very physical game. We are trying to show that we aren’t just a book, we are a real sport with real rules and intense athletes.”

At the 2019 National Championship, the Ottawa Otters and the University of Guelph faced off in the final match. The Otters won the tournament, with a final score of 250^ to 200*. The Vancouver Storm Crows placed third, beating Valhalla Quidditch, a team from Toronto, in the bronze medal match, with a score of 100* to 50.

It is evident that Quidditch is not just a fictional sport created by J.K. Rowling, but rather a tough and competitive sport that anyone can excel at.

The Canadian National Championship is a prime example of the ways in which the combination of passion, community and athleticism can bring magic out from the pages of books and into the lives of fans and athletes.

Quidditch is definitely a sport to watch and one that deserves recognition in the world of international sports. This sport is definitely a ‘keeper’.

 

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Photos by Kyle West

From April 6 to April 17, the Studio Art program’s 2019 graduates will present the annual SUMMA exhibition. Entitled Counterpoint, the show will be curated by Hamilton textile artist Hitoko Okada. For the first time in over 30 years, the McMaster Museum of Art will not house the show due to its ongoing updates. The exhibition will instead take place at the Cotton Factory.

McMaster Studio Arts is a small program, with the fourth year class consisting of only 19 artists. With instruction on a range of media and a focus on environmentally responsible practices, the program has produced diverse artists who care about the world around them. Counterpoint means “to combine elements” and is fitting considering the amalgamation of their various styles and the balance they try to strike within their individual works.

The graduates organized the exhibition themselves. While it gave them a chance to learn more about the lives of professional artists, it also taught them to work together. Coordinating among 19 people was not easy and after some bumps in the road to find the perfect venue, they are all relieved to see the show finally coming together.

 

Deeshani Fernando

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Fernando spends a fair amount of time in nature, drawing and photographing the landscape around her. Back in the studio, she takes the colours, textures and lines from the environment to create the emotional and abstract landscape paintings that she’ll be displaying at Counterpoint.

“For me, [Counterpoint is] about… this the balance between the organic and the artificialness in my work… [I]t's taking… different colors… , textures and mark making and creating harmony and balance between all those different things within one image and creating a sort of peacefulness in that work,” Fernando explained.

Throughout the process of organizing the SUMMA show, Fernando learned how to survive as an artist. She feels that she now has an art practice of her own and regards her peers as professional contacts. As she leaves McMaster to pursue teaching, she will take those skills and contacts with her.

 

Caroline (Eun-ae) Lee

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For Lee, Counterpoint refers to the way her class’s wildly different works complement each other. Having spent four years critiquing and supporting one another’s practice, the exhibition represents the harmony between their different themes and materials.

The Korean-Canadian artist explores traditional Korean materials in her work. She portrays these traditional materials in a modern, digital format and then incorporates threading to unite the two ideas.

“I always get confused between Canadian and Korean aspects of myself… [T]his sense of detachment, trying to attach to something or being porous, kind of like a sponge, absorbing a lot of different cultures in order to make up my singular identity. And just like maintenance of this traditional and modern form of art,” Lee said.

Currently aiming to go into interactive design, Lee feels she learned the reality of being an artist. She has been exposed to the business side of the art world by learning to solve problems creatively and produce even without inspiration. The program’s push toward using materials to convey subtle themes has evolved Lee’s art practice.

Sean Cooper

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Cooper didn’t have a lot of purpose behind his art when he entered the studio arts program. Four years later, he feels he is a more deliberate artist and currently explores ideas around memory and coming of age. At Counterpoint, he will be presenting acrylic paintings of Westdale, where he grew up.

“[W]ith my work, I just try and talk about what that experience was like… [D]ifferent places… might not necessarily be important to other people but I guess I have certain memories there,” Cooper said.

The fact that this is the last art gathering of his university career saddens Cooper, but he knows the entire class is proud of the show. Despite the challenges they faced, they demonstrated that they could accomplish anything with collaboration. The different backgrounds and art practices of the class would not seem to mesh, but Cooper feels a nameless common thread unites their work.

 

Delaney McVeigh

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McVeigh believes process and environmentalism brings together her diverse class’ work. A self-identified environmental artist, she explores interactions between living things with one another and with inanimate objects. Having grown up in a small town near Point Pelee National Park, she spent a lot of time in nature growing up.

McVeigh’s work for Counterpoint is a series of photolithographic prints. This long and old process of creating images is meaningful to her. She tries to present her dystopian and nonsensical images in an aesthetically pleasing way with vintage elements.

“I use a lot of vintage imagery in my work… [A]fter World War II… there was the baby boom and they created a very unstable environment where it was a throwaway society. Nothing was fixed, it's all just thrown away… And then it wasn't until the ‘90s when the environment became a very serious topic,” McVeigh explained.

Her work is personal, but the program has made her more comfortable with speaking about her art. By sharing these narratives with her classmates and professors, they all grew close. She anticipates that this graduation show will be bittersweet, but there is a lot from her time at McMaster that she will be taking with her. She learned to critique her own work and reach out for help, which will help her as she pursues a career in sustainable architecture.

 

Jayda Conti

After graduating with her Bachelor of Fine Arts with minors in theatre and film studies and music, Conti will be going into teaching. Her teaching program will focus on educational art programming in the community, something that Conti is an advocate for. She is excited about the fact that Counterpoint will bring her program’s work off campus and into the Hamilton community.

Conti will be showing a five-piece installation consisting of floating boxes with deconstructed paintings in them. Her work revolves around her experiences with depression and anxiety to open a dialogue about mental health.

“[S]o for this body of work, there's five different stories to which I'm telling, one of which is the story about my mother's cancer. Normally… they're more negative experiences that I'm trying to understand in a more positive way. So my strokes are colors that are brighter in trying to… accept these experiences and… learn from them but also move forward,” Conti explained.

With her theatrical background, Conti sometimes feels as if she is performing herself. There is vulnerability in her portrayal of her life and she explores privacy versus vulnerability in her work. However, her time at McMaster gave her the confidence to tell her story through theatre, music and art.

 

The graduation show will open with a reception at the Cotton Factory from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on April 6. The graduating class looks forward to sharing their work with the Hamilton community.

 

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Photo by Kyle West

By: Maryanne Oketch

One of the reasons I chose to enrol at McMaster University was for the diversity that the school claimed to offer. Coming from a predominantly white secondary school, I was excited to attend a new school. I was hopeful that I would make connections within my program and maybe gain a support system consisting of people that could relate to the experience of being Black in academia.

When I entered the integrated science program in 2016, I was disheartened to realize that in my year of entry, I was the only student in my program that was Black, alongside two other individuals with mixed backgrounds. Within the week, this dropped to two, as one person switched out. Within the month, it then became clear that the two of us were not just the only Black students in our year, but in the whole four-year program.

This lack of Black peers created a feeling that I had to be the best of the best, and when I couldn’t reach that goal, I would withdraw rather than reaching out. This caused damage to my grades, reputation and relationships with my peers.  

It is a well-known fact that there is a disparity between the Black population and our representation in higher education. This gap can be seen more in supplementary-based programs that McMaster offers, and my experience unfortunately is not an isolated one.

Multiple students from different programs stated that the lack of Black students in their programs made them feel like there were few people who could relate to the struggles that come with being Black.

There was also another complexity that I did not consider — the fact that there are more Black women in academia than Black men. One health sciences student, upon realizing that they were the only Black man in their whole year, experienced feelings of isolation.

In addition, a justice, political philosophy and law student was the only Black man in their program, and though he is friends with Black women, he notes that it is not fully the same.  

Regrettably, the issues that stem from the lack of diversity do not just have interpersonal effects, but also affect the learning experience. A student in the arts and science program said that there were times when a professor or student would ask a question that pertained to race, and the question would seem pointed at them, the only Black student in their year.

This student can also recall a moment when a professor made a comment about how some students may be used to hearing racist jokes, and then locked eyes with them, creating an uncomfortable situation.

Another former arts and science student had a class where a classmate attempted to defend slavery, and a professor who taught a class about oppression but refused to use the term “racism”. The student states that they never felt challenged by the program, and felt that they had to do the challenging rather than their instructors. This was due, they say, to the structure and instruction of the program being catered to their affluent white peers and not to them.

The catering of programs does not seem limited to just arts and science but can also be seen in McMaster Engineering Society programs. A student within the program switched out after one semester due to the lack of actual inquiry in the program, but a focus on the marks received.

When a peer in their program stated that "the disadvantaged [in Hamilton] aren't doing enough for the more privileged to help them," the professor did not immediately shut down this false and insensitive statement, but instead was complacent. In addition, the structure of the program encouraged students to repeat the same statistics because that is what is needed for a good grade, and not because the students wished to learn more about societal issues.

If multiple Black students in different years and different programs are saying the same thing, there needs to be some sort of change to support these students when they are in the program. I am not suggesting these programs change their selection process, because this lack of diversity is a systemic issue, and I do not have the knowledge to provide suitable solutions to help mitigate the effects.

Regardless, if McMaster strives for diversity and does not have the necessary structure to support the diverse students that they already have, then their efforts are just a baseless claim to obtain more money from a diverse group of students.

 

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Photo C/O Kyle West

By: Donna Nadeem

In the fall, An’am Sherwani, Asha Smith and Garry Vinayak, three students taking the SUSTAIN 3S03 course, conducted a new study on food insecurity on campus.

The results reveal that 39 per cent of the 204 student respondents have experienced moderate food insecurity and 12 per cent have experienced severe insecurity.

Food insecurity refers to the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable and nutritious food.

Meal Exchange is a nonprofit organization that tackles issues such as student food insecurity in Canadian post-secondary institutions.

In 2016, Meal Exchange worked with university campuses including Brock University, the University of Calgary, Dalhousie University, Lakehead University and Ryerson University to survey students using the “Hungry for Knowledge” survey guide and framework.

The objectives of the study were to determine a ‘prevalence estimate’ of students experiencing food insecurity, identify key factors that contribute to student food insecurity and raise awareness about various services that address and help reduce the issue of student food insecurity.

As part of the course, Sherwani, Smith and Vinayak created an online survey for the McMaster student population to collect information about students who are at most risk of food insecurity.

The survey also asked respondents about the various barriers and factors that influence and contribute to the emergence of student food insecurity.

The goal of the project was to use the survey data collection to gain knowledge and a deeper understanding about the social issue of student food insecurity.

The team advertised the survey through social media, posters around campus and class talks. They obtained 204 partial responses and 185 complete responses.

Their findings indicate that 39 percent, or 71, of respondents have experienced ‘moderate’ food insecurity while 12 per cent, or 22 respondents, experienced ‘severe’ food insecurity.

Respondents indicated that their food insecurity was largely the result of factors including financial barriers, having limited time to cook and the lack of healthy and diverse food options on campus.

They also reported that food insecurity impacted their physical health, mental health, social life and grades.

The most common experiences amongst those dealing with food insecurity included relying on low-cost foods, not eating healthy balanced meals, and prioritizing other financial needs before securing adequate food.

The study also suggests that food insecurity also results in skipping meals and sometimes not eating the entire day.

Of those who identified as food insecure, only 24 per cent utilized programs and services at their disposal, such as the McMaster Students Union Food Collective Centre.

Nonetheless, as there is a stigma associated with these services, it is unclear the extent to which respondents underreported their use of them.

After analyzing the results of the survey, the team shared their findings were shared with MSU student clubs and services.

These groups can use the results of the study, particularly the one about students’ use of food services, as a springboard to explore new ways of outreach to McMaster students experiencing food insecurity.

The increased usage of these services and clubs may aid in the reduction of food insecurity at McMaster.

The SUSTAIN 3S03 team has sent their study to a graduate student, who will continue to pursue and examine the research. Further exploration and follow-ups are currently in progress and the study will be continued into 2019.

 

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