C/O Yoohyun Park

MacDivest paints mural to demand attention from the Board of Governors

On March 4, 2021, McMaster University announced that President David Farrar had urged the Board of Governors to divest from their use of fossil fuels as an investment pool.

“President David Farrar has asked the Board of Governors to put in place a strategy to divest fossil fuels from the university’s institutional investment pool as soon as possible,” stated the University.

Farrar spoke about how the McMaster community wants to see consistent changes.

“It is necessary, alongside our carbon reduction activities, to confirm that we want to be a leader in these areas and so today I asked the university’s Board of Governors to work with us to put in place a strategy to divest fossil fuels from our institutional investment pool as soon as possible,” said Farrar.

These sentiments rang through the McMaster community. Groups like MacDivest are curious about what this could actually mean for the future of McMaster. 

MacDivest is a public interest project under OPIRG McMaster, a nonprofit organization that offers students the chance to take action on social justice and environmental issues. 

As a group, MacDivest has two goals. The first is a continual attempt to raise awareness about McMaster’s investment in fossil fuels. The second aims to create a plan for divestment that has a basis behind it, factoring in McMaster and the current environmental climate.

As such, the group has organized, and continues to plan, different ways to bring light to this issue. On Sept. 13, they banded together to paint a mural with the phrase “No brighter world without divestment” on the front steps of Gilmour Hall. 

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A post shared by MacDivest (@mcmasterdivest)

Simran Dhindsa, a member of MacDivest, explained why this was chosen.

“We were debating multiple places . . . but once we arrived to the area we were like this seems like the perfect place to lay out our image. [We chose that area] because the Board of Governors office is there. Our mural was a message to them, to bring awareness that we have been demanding action about climate change for a while and about divestment,” said Dhindsa. 

She went on to explain that the mural was painted due to a lack of action from the Board of Governors.

“Seeing news like [Farrar’s announcement] is motivating, that conversations like that are happening. At the same time, it seems more to just say that ‘conversation’ is happening instead of actually taking action about them. MacDivest earlier this year sent hundreds of letters to the Board of Governors and they didn’t really acknowledge that or even give a reply,” explained Dhindsa.

"MacDivest earlier this year sent hundreds of letters to the Board of Governors and they didn’t really acknowledge that or even give a reply."

Simran Dhindsa, member of MacDivest

Srishti Sharma, a student at McMaster, saw the mural being painted that morning.

“I thought it was very empowering,” said Sharma.

According to Dhindsa, five hours after they had painted the mural it was promptly washed off. She explained that they had begun at 9 a.m. and by 1 p.m. it was being washed off. However, despite the mural being washed off, Dhindsa believes they had made their message clear.

“David Farrar — we had met him that morning and he did see us make the mural. So I think we kind of accomplished our goal of making them aware,” said Dhindsa.

On Sept, 16, MacDivest shared an official response to McMaster’s treatment of the mural. 

“We are deeply disappointed at McMaster’s lack of tolerance to a mural that was not obscene or impeding anyone’s experience on campus . . . The power washing of the mural was symbolic of the treatment our efforts encouraging McMaster to divest have endured,” stated MacDivest.

“We are deeply disappointed at McMaster’s lack of tolerance to a mural that was not obscene or impeding anyone’s experience on campus . . . The power washing of the mural was symbolic of the treatment our efforts encouraging McMaster to divest have endured.”

macdivest
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A post shared by MacDivest (@mcmasterdivest)

When the Silhouette reached out to the Board of Governors, they declined an interview. 

Piper & Carson’s second album Edgewalker’s Remedy is about divesting from colonist structures

By: Tracy Huynh, Contributor

For singer-songwriter duo Piper & Carson, music is about disarming people, building community and creating intentional art that heals. They sought to embody these ideals in their second album, Edgewalker’s Remedy, which was released on Oct. 23, 2020. 

Piper & Carson is the stage name of duo and couple Piper Hayes and Carson Ritcey-Thorpe. Hayes and Ritcey-Thorpe met when Hayes, who was raised in the east end of Toronto, was performing at a Harvest Bash in Ritcey-Thorpe’s hometown of Millgrove. 

Feeling a deep connection with the land and the community, the two moved to Hamilton five years ago. In 2017, they released their self-titled debut album, Piper & Carson. The theme of nature is apparent throughout their music, with sounds of water and birds underlying the melody. 

Their second album, Edgewalker’s Remedy, is about divesting from capitalist and colonial systems. The title paints a picture of how colonialism pushes groups of people to the edges of society. Tackling themes of anti-racism, Indigenous sovereignty and respecting the Earth, the album is strikingly relevant to the topics currently explored by media today. 

 

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A post shared by Piper & Carson (@piperandcarson)

For example, in Mother’s Prayer, background heartbeat sounds, vivid imagery and lyrics such as “Decolonize your mind/You don’t own anything” bring attention to the Black Lives Matter movement. It’s clear from the first listen that this duo isn’t trying to shy away from topics that spark conversation. 

“We felt really strongly that it's really our responsibility as settlers here to be part of anti-racism and to be part of amplifying the voices of Indigenous people. It's people [and] it's communities that are going to change things. I have very very little faith in the current structures that are in place,” said Hayes.

The duo has been amplifying Indigenous voices by sharing content from Indigenous activists on their social media platforms. However, they aim to create a long-term exit strategy from social media.

“For years it has felt imperative as musicians to have a Facebook, Instagram and Twitter account. Lately, however we are questioning this reasoning and wondering what better ways we can collectively invest in each other and our relationships,” said Hayes and Ritcey-Thorpe in a press release.

Wanting to further reject the predatory capitalist practices of the music industry, Hayes and Ritcey-Thorpe did not put the album on streaming platforms. Instead, the album is available on their website and Bandcamp in a pay-what-you-can model. They wanted to make decisions centred around their art, rather than around what would do well on the market. 

 

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A post shared by Piper & Carson (@piperandcarson)

The project also includes a companion book of lyrics and stories for “adult children.” The book features custom illustrations by Métis artist and friend of the couple Riley Bee. The physical and digital versions of the book are available on their website.

“Our goal is to just get us all collectively to slow down, reflect and hopefully seek out the connection to this natural world, to step into that as much as possible and build and foster wonder,” said Ritcey-Thorpe. 

Hayes and Ritcey-Thorpe recorded their latest album in their Hamilton home in the midst of the pandemic. For the pair who are used to performing live, this was new territory. With the help of their friends, Greyson Gritt and Chris Bartos, the duo navigated the challenges of learning new equipment, setting up their home studio and working digitally with other artists. 

It was important for the duo to collaborate with artists like The Rough and Tumble and Lacey Hill. They found that the digital space combined with the insights of other artists allowed for creative and serendipitous ways of building a song. 

Piper & Carson are livestreaming a show on Nov. 29, 2020. As with their other work, tickets are being sold using a pay-what-you-can model. Hayes and Ritcey-Thorpe are going to use the show to serenade, tell stories and connect with their guests. Through this show, they continue to build community with their music even during the pandemic.

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