In between setting new stay-at-home orders and dolling out fines to businesses for violating pandemic protocols, politicians across Canada continue to not listen to their own advice
Photo C/O Robbie Palmer on Unsplash
Do as I say, not as I do. An old idiom that traces its origin back to the 17th century but continues to ring true to this day. In these times enduring the pandemic, it rings even more true — with possibly dire consequences.
Do you know how many politicians in Canada went on vacation outside of the country over the last 10 months or attended gatherings not permissible according to federal or provincial guidelines?
Barely a week into 2021, there was already a handful of politicians on the federal and provincial level that left Canada for one reason or another. This is not limited to one party either. Liberal, Conservative and NDP alike from Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan and more have left the country or illegally attended large gatherings.
While some politicians had somewhat understandable reasons for travelling, including visiting spouses or attending memorials, there are some who went simply on a warm tropical vacation and a few openly bragged about their decision to disobey their own government’s safety protocols.
While we can laugh at these people as they are exposed, publicly shamed and stripped of responsibilities, dismissing them as just another hypocritical politician (what a surprise), this is not just another example of hypocrisy.
During a pandemic that refuses to go away, it is more important than ever for everybody to follow the rules and regulations. As frustrating as they may be, we are incredibly reliant on each person’s ability to follow the rules and do what is right.
As much as we are all capable of thinking for ourselves and making our own informed decisions, it would be nice to see a little accountability from our elected leaders who are actively telling us what we should be doing.
Ultimately, everyone is able to choose how they will handle themselves on an individual level, utilizing the information we now know about COVID-19 and how it spreads to assess their actions and weigh the risks of what they decide.
If they can do something with minimal health risks to themselves and others, that is beneficial for everyone.
If someone decides to break government rules or protocols for whatever reason and does not endanger others, I’m not too concerned about their actions. If you leave the country but isolate yourself afterwards and follow the testing and quarantine protocols, then you did what you were supposed to do.
But if you are someone who has been entrusted with making wise decisions for people and representing their best interests, then there is a higher level of responsibility. You must lead by example.
Don’t just do the bare minimum, but follow your rules over 110%, be extra careful and show others a pristine example of what you can do.
Sadly, this is just another instance where we have been let down by those who we have collectively entrusted to be smart and make the best decisions for us all. How can we trust our politicians to make the best decisions for us when they can barely make a rational decision for themselves?
More than ever, we are extremely reliant on one another making smart informed decisions — our health and safety rely on it. If we ever want things to return to some semblance of ‘normal’, we must think logically and selflessly. Maybe someone should tell politicians that.
By Eamonn Valelly, Contributor
The McMaster women’s lacrosse team is a strong unit. After speaking to them for just ten minutes, their team chemistry was obvious. The way they carry themselves as a squad and the support they have for one another individually is reflective of how they perform on the field.
Outside of practice, the team organizes team-bonding activities. For example, this weekend they have scheduled a potluck dinner to discuss their home game on Sunday. The team’s plan is to set goals and get into the game mentality. Keep an eye out on Sunday because you might catch them jamming out for karaoke night at The Snooty Fox.
The team is very open with each other about what they need to work on and there is no noticeable ego amongst team members. Leadership is fluid, as everyone has the same goal – winning the championship this year.
Depending on the day, any player may step up and take the reins.
“We all really trust each other’s judgment,” said Zoe Collis, a civil engineering student from Orangeville, Ontario. “We all have different strengths in different areas.”
“We really just want to help each other grow,” Kaitlyn Moffat, a second year political science student chimed in.
The relationship the team members have with one other carries into the team's relationship with their coach, Brendan Sweeney. Sweeney is also the head coach of the Hamilton Bengals U19 lacrosse team and multiple athletes from the U19 team have chosen to go to McMaster, in part to continue working with coach Sweeney.
Sweeney’s role on the team is much greater than just head coach. Always taking the time to check in on his athletes, Sweeney is equally a wealth of knowledge in lacrosse as he is a support system.
“He really does get to know us as people, it’s more than just player-coach,” Samantha Porter, a second-year kinesiology student from Whitby, Ontario mentions. “Even on the bus he’ll come and sit down with you and ask you how you are. It’s more than just lacrosse, we can go to him about school or life. He’s super passionate about it too, he’s seen Mac at their worst and we’re really starting to build up now. He’s just invested so much time into it.”
Sweeney was a professor in labour studies at McMaster. He was an undergraduate student at McMaster between 1999 and 2003, where he captained the men’s lacrosse team. He progressed to become one of the assistant coaches on the men’s team after his playing career.
Sweeney recently left his role as director of the McMaster Automotive Research Centre to become the director of management at the Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing at Western University. The bond Sweeney has with Mac is evidently strong enough to keep him here coaching the women’s lacrosse team.
“The women’s [lacrosse] team is barreling towards the championship,” said Fraser Caldwell, the sport information officer for McMaster.
The team agrees with Caldwell. They described themselves as tenacious and swangin’ towards a championship. Make sure to catch the women’s lacrosse team at the Ontario University championship from Oct. 18-20.
By Yashpreet Birdi, Contributor
Demonstrating leadership is a concept that we have all likely come across in our course outlines, student club activities or job postings. Figuring out how to show others your leadership capabilities can be scary for those of us who identify as introverted. But maybe we should focus on redefining the term “leadership”. I have realized over time that there can be many opportunities for introverted students to become leaders.
McMaster University is constantly promoting initiatives such as Welcome Week, student elections and executive positions for student clubs. These activities are constantly tied to being extroverted and well-suited for future leaders.
For example, these opportunities usually consist of campaigning and delivering speeches which require you to be comfortable engaging with others. In other words, you can’t experience terrible anxiety when you’re put on the spot!
Because of the popularity of such initiatives at McMaster, it can become difficult for introverted students to realize that there is also space for them to demonstrate and develop strong leadership skills. If you are introverted, here’s how you can become your own type of leader.
Dare to challenge traditional perceptions
When I, an introvert, used to hear the term “leader” I would automatically visualize an extroverted person confidently standing at a podium, making motivational speeches that would eventually propel others towards a brighter future. I would rarely imagine someone who is seen as more “behind the scenes”. Why are these quieter personalities not often described to be motivational, ambitious, influential and powerful? It’s interesting to see how our brains automatically connect certain terms with specific visuals. But my stereotype visual is not the only possible depiction of a successful leader.
Through my recent observations, I have seen that leadership can be diverse. In our everyday life, we can see the several personality types that surround us — not just limited to introverts and extroverts. All personality types have different abilities, strengths, goals and preferences.
Create your own definition for ‘leadership’ and ‘success’
The dream of becoming the next great leader forces introverts to reimagine their idea of success and leadership. Try the simple practice of closing your eyes and visualizing yourself as a powerful and successful leader. What do you see? What are your strengths? What do you bring to the table? When you have a strong passion to contribute to making the world a better place, you must not let biases against your personality type prevent you from working towards your goals.
Take advantage of unique opportunities
There are many opportunities for introverted students to showcase their skills without having to change their personalities to fit into traditional ideologies of success.
Attending lectures and office hours for me is not only an opportunity to gain knowledge from experts. It is also a chance to get inspired and examine the hard work that professors perform behind the scenes to prepare for their academic duties. These experts have the amazing ability to influence various policy, health, science, politics and religious debates. Just by looking at these leaders, you can see endless opportunities for introverts. Think about the possibility of conducting research with your professors to contribute to their efforts of influencing the world.
Additionally, I believe that the best opportunity for us to demonstrate leadership is to exercise our right to vote as Canadian citizens. Commit to voting in the upcoming Canadian federal election on Oct. 21, 2019! If running for elections is seen as a leadership initiative, voting should be seen in a similar lens.
By making the firm decision to vote for the upcoming election, you not only take the initiative to take action, but you also strongly voice your opinion, and attempt to improve how our society and country operates. Does this not sound like taking a strong step towards leadership and making an impact?
Reflect, Define, Proceed, Repeat!
We should always remember that Albert Einstein once said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
It is essential to reflect on your personal missions, define what success and leadership mean to you and confidently proceed in your individual path. And don’t forget to repeat this process whenever you feel overwhelmed during your journey towards success and strong leadership!
By: Graham West
Ahmed Shamiya is one of McMaster’s newest head coaches, taking the reins of the wrestling team from Nick Cipriano. Mac’s long-time former coach was a staple of the wrestling program for the past 35 years and was recently inducted into the Wrestling Canada Hall of Fame in January.
Shamiya is one of McMaster’s most decorated wrestling alumni, having helped the team win the Ontario University Athletics Championships in 2015, with many more individual accolades in his decorated career. Still competing, Shamiya most recently placed silver in the 86-kilogram category at the Canadian Senior National Championship in March.
— McMaster Marauders (@McMasterSports) January 16, 2017
Shamiya knows the inner workings of the program and will apply this knowledge to how he runs things, and it will allow him to make the necessary changes to get to the next step.
“I know a lot of the things our program did really well,” Shamiya said “We’re not here just for performance but we’re here to build great people, great student-athletes and a great experience. That’s the ultimate goal. I want to continue that legacy and then just minor tweaks here and there that I think will improve the program or help the student-athletes.”
Cipriano left big shoes to fill after being named the national Coach of the Year four times, and won Mac multiple national championships, but Shamiya’s experience in Mac’s wrestling program means he shouldn’t have any issues taking over.
“It’s a little overwhelming, they’re definitely big shoes to fill, the man is a gentleman and a scholar, and he's done a lot for the program and the school in general,” Shamiya said. “The fact that I’m following him are definitely big shoes to fill, but the fact that he trusts me with the program after all that he's done gives me a lot of confidence.”
Coaching wasn’t always something on Shamiya’s mind, but is something he naturally has the capabilities to excel at because he’s always been a strong leader who was helpful to his teammates. His knowledge of the challenges student-athletes can face is going to be especially beneficial for the wrestling team going forward.
“I’ve always just had a knack for wanting to help others on the team, and I’ve always been passionate about leadership,” Shamiya said. “To be honest, I didn’t really pursue it, the opportunity just sort of fell into place. I feel like it was right place right time…You know what they say, luck is when preparation meets opportunity.”
Even though he is young, Shamiya has been mentored by Cipriano for years, transitioning from one of his athletes to his assistant coach. Although being recognized for his capabilities and earning the head coaching job has presented itself with its challenges, Shamiya is facing all of them head-on.
“It’s such a specific job with such a specific niche that having a mentor is great and Nick has been the best mentor ever, he’s helped me a lot,” Shamiya said. “It’s still a lot to adjust to all at once, although I’ve been enjoying it and embracing it, I think the fact that it all happened kind of overnight and not a slow transition into it was a good challenge.”
Passion and love for what he is doing is not something that Shamiya is short on. His love for wrestling is definitely something that will help the Marauders reach their potential during his tenure as head coach.
“It doesn’t feel like work at all, I’m spending my time doing exactly what I love, helping people that are in a great position in their lives where they’re student-athletes,” said Shamiya. “They have the opportunity to build themselves into something really good over the next few years. It doesn’t feel like work. I’m really enjoying this and it’s the job of my dreams basically.”
Shamiya may be young, but he will no doubt carry on the tremendous legacy that has preceded McMaster’s wrestling team as he himself was on many winning teams. His capabilities as a leader and knowledge of not only the program, but how wrestling itself works, will certainly lead the team on a path to gold next year.
By: Drew Simpson
The McMaster Muslims Students’ Association recently held Finding Your Momentum, a leadership and empowerment workshop specifically curated for Muslims. Its objective was to increase youth engagement to improve community involvement.
While MacMSA maintains a busy calendar, the process of organizing this event began well before the school year started. While decisions were being made around the structure of MacMSA’s exec-director team, the team realized a recent and significant drop in engagement with the association and the community.
Typically, directorship positions with the MacMSA would attract about 50 applicants each, in recent times however, these numbers have significantly dropped to one or two applicants. The senior executives became worried about MacMSA’s future leadership and lack of engagement with younger cohorts.
MacMSA leaders also saw a lack of Muslims being represented in leadership positions in the McMaster community, such as through the Student Representative Assembly.
Feedback gained from focus groups found a common rhetoric of Muslims opting out of leadership positions to focus on academics. They also found that many individuals were under the misconception that they are not needed by the community.
One workshop attendee and MacMSA representative noted that a lot of students experience a lack of confidence in their abilities and felt that they aren’t equipped with the appropriate skills to take on leadership responsibilities.
The Finding Your Momentum workshop was created in response to these concerns. The MacMSA team realized that they needed to empower their members and create a space where attendees can have open conversations about bettering themselves as Muslims and leaders in the community.
While one of the aims of the workshop was to increase attendees’ engagement with the community, the MacMSA team had to first figure out a way to increase engagement with the workshop itself.
From previous experiences, the organizers found that many people needed someone to both encourage them to participate and attend the event with them. This was often facilitated through invitations by word of mouth.
The organizers of Finding Your Momentum took advantage of this promotion strategy, and it worked. One attendee noted that in order to facilitate empowerment, individuals need someone to give them a little push of encouragement and support.
“When you hear ‘word-of-mouth’, you think of just going and telling someone ‘hey we have an event, just come’. But it’s actually investing in the Muslim community on campus…A part of being a leader is having a community that can look up to you and support your vision,” explained Faryal Zahir, MSA Director and Finding Your Momentum organizer.
“A big part of this year has been making that vision very very clear, and then having people inspired to support that vision.”
This workshop consisted of interactive activities and discussions that focused on introspecting on attendees’ relationships with themselves and others. There was also a focus on utilizing leadership opportunities to serve the community and building connections.
At every MacMSA event, building connections is a recurring goal. The team believes that building connections enables individuals into action.
Finding Your Momentum, like other MacMSA events, aims to break down the barriers that repress interaction, and encourage attendees to have one-to-one connections, first with themselves, then with their peers and greater community.
Time will tell if the MacMSA achieved its goal of encouraging workshop attendees to take on more leadership positions, but one thing is for sure – Finding Your Momentum created a much needed space for empowerment and meaningful engagement for Muslim youth.
After bringing home the provincial silver medal last year, McMaster’s women’s volleyball team missed the Ontario University Athletics playoffs for the first time since 2003-2004. At the end of last season, a large part of the team’s veteran players decided to move on from the program, leaving an obvious hole that needed to be filled.
Jessie Nairn, a third-year commerce student, suddenly found herself as one of the more veteran players on a young squad in a new starting position. One of the youngest players on the court a season prior, Nairn took some time to wrap her head around her new role.
“It was definitely a big change, but I think I'm starting to really enjoy the role of being a leader on the team, and we're definitely really starting to try understand what our new culture is,” Nairn said. “Being able to shape that as a leader on the team is definitely super cool and something I'm really excited for, even the next year coming.”
While they were not able to ultimately finish where they wanted, the team played well considering their drastic roster changes and the fierce competition in the OUA West. The young Marauders were able to stay right in the playoff race until the very end of the season.
Although they didn’t really consider themselves underdogs, they knew the road to the playoffs wouldn’t be easy. As the team adjusted to having significantly less upper-year players than last year, including several OUA all-stars, the Marauders needed to find what their new identity would be.
“I think this year was a big start to try to decide how we want to be as a team, and really how we want to act and prove ourselves.” Nairn added. “I think we're ready, we know what we have to do next year and we're excited for sure.”
One major highlight of the season for this year’s squad was Nairn’s nomination to the OUA All-Star First Team. Making the most of her opportunity, Nairn posted team-highs in aces (34), kills per set (2.97) and points per set (3.8).
“This summer I realized I'd have to step up and be a big role on the team coming into this year,” Nairn said. “From there, I was never really aiming to be on a First Team or Second Team, but I was more so aiming to do everything I could to get the wins for our team and do the best I could.”
As one of the tallest people in her Grade 8 class, Nairn was originally convinced to play volleyball because “you can’t teach height”. Her love for the sport snowballed from there and her talent soon followed as volleyball became a large part of her life.
“I was definitely big into volleyball and I knew that volleyball is kind of what I wanted to do, so I knew I needed to go somewhere where I would have the training that I could trust in,” Nairn said. “Tim Louks is just one of the best coaches out there, and definitely in the OUA. So, I was really honored when he asked me to be on the team and that's definitely one of the major parts of why I came to the school.”
Also initially attracted to Mac’s engineering program, Nairn entered into Mac and soon found herself surrounded by all-star talent, inspiring her in her young volleyball career. With many nationally-recognized on both the women’s team and the men’s team with whom they are close, Mac’s volleyball program has a palpable competitive environment of success, which helped push Nairn in her career.
This aided in Nairn’s transition from second-year double-sub to third-year starting right side. While the move was initially shocking, she was ready for it, spending much of last year in the front row blocking, which got her excited to attack the offseason with enthusiasm.
“Starting this year was definitely, but more so mentally, to get into the game and be a big role on the team was hard to get used to,” Nairn said. “But once I did, it was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed myself, and I think this year for me was just a really big year, and kind of proved to me what I can do and the places I can go and what I want to do with it.”
Heading into next season with a much more cohesive team, and the incredible administrative and fan support the team receives as praised by Nairn, the Marauders are poised for an exciting season.
“I’m excited. I think our team is going to be very strong next year mentally and physically because I think this offseason is going to be one of the hardest we've ever had just because of the outcome of this year,” Nairn said. “I think it's really going to drive us to be a very good team. I'm excited for the competition because I know none of the schools around us are getting any weaker, they're only getting better.”
While this might have been the first year they have missed the postseason in recent memory, having players like Nairn, Hailey Kranics and Zoe Mackintosh, along with an assortment of rising stars, the future looks bright. There probably won’t be any missed playoffs anytime soon.
By: Adriana Skaljin
The McMaster women’s volleyball team is off to a unique start, having introduced several new players following key departures from last season, including several Ontario University Athletics all-stars. As opposed to becoming discouraged by the challenge of adjusting to a new roster, the Marauders have established a positive approach to this season.
“We’re working our way to rebuild some missing years of experience, seeing as we have so many new players,” said head coach Tim Louks.
These new players have been described positively, due to their passion for the game and willingness to learn how to play at a university level.
“They all entered with great enthusiasm,” said Louks. “They realize the difficulty that comes with playing at a university level, and know that they need to practice.”
Jessie Nairn, a third-year commerce student and right side, described how the new players will have ample opportunity to play this year and get onto the court.
“The new athletes bring great energy to the court and are all competitive,” said Nairn. “They are all still adjusting, but [us veterans] are also adjusting because we lost so many players.”
Despite their lack of experience, Louks, who has coached the team for 30 years, explained how they have a lot to bring to the court, playing well throughout the preseason. The team had a rough start to the regular season, losing 2-3 against Ryerson University on Oct. 20, and the University of Toronto on Oct. 26.
“We had opportunities to win sets, but it slipped away,” explained Louks. “We have what it takes, we just need to work on finding results.”
Like Louks, his players have a similar positive attitude towards the losses. Hailey Kranics, a third-year political science student who plays middle, explained how the energy during the game against Toronto prepared them for what is yet to come.
“That game felt like a playoff game,” said Kranics. “This prepares us for the actual playoffs.”
“Losing the games might not be the worst, because [they] show us that we are still trying to figure ourselves out and that there is nothing stopping us from winning,” Nairn added.
Kranics and Nairn now find themselves in leadership roles on the team, due to the loss of many upper-year players. As third-year students, they stepped up to the challenge and have recognized the difficulties and pressures that come with being players to which others look up.
[spacer height="20px"]“I feel more involved and accountable this year,” explained Kranics. “I am constantly paying attention to the things I do and look at how they affect those around me.”
Likewise, Nairn touched upon how both their leadership roles and their playing time have increased.
“Last year, I didn’t have as big of a playing role as I do this year,” said Nairn. “Being one of the older players is a big adjustment to be thrown into.”
With the responsibilities of being a team leader comes the ability to recognize the newness of the team, while trying to stimulate ways of figuring each other out. This creates the need to balance both personal growth and self-realization, while understanding how to play as a cohesive unit. It takes a good leader to be able to work through these barriers, and coach Louks commended the effort of his new leaders.
“[They] are receptive to trying to provide guidance and have been committed and dedicated to figur[ing] out how to lead,” Louks said.
The coaching staff has also taken new leadership, with the return of former assistant coach Nathan Janzen resuming the role he previously held with the program.
“This injection has garnered more attention to detail and needed provision, due to his tremendous level of volleyball expertise,” said Louks.
On top of this staff addition, the coaches have implemented an expansion of fitness training and a higher level of determination.
“This year, we have more determination and tougher coaching that focuses on making players understand that we need to sort out our team mentality and win,” said Nairn.
It is with this positive attitude and drive for success that the McMaster women’s volleyball team pulled off back-to-back wins against Queen’s University and the Royal Military College of Canada on Nov. 9 and 10. The team is definitely in the works of pulling off another great season and are making a strong attempt towards achieving their goal of obtaining OUA gold.
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A pomegranate, some books, plants and a kiln. On their own, these images may not speak to the inspiring legacy of women’s stories. However, in the hands of the youth leaders from the YWCA Hamilton and Workers’ Arts and Heritage Centre Youth Councils, items such as these have been transformed into powerful symbols within beautiful collages.
This artwork currently hangs at WAHC’s community gallery in an exhibition entitled Portraits of Gratitude: Women+’s History; Women+’s Future. All the pieces came out of a two-hour collage workshop led by Hamilton artist Stylo Starr for the youth council members, all of whom are between 16 and 29 years old.
[spacer height="20px"]The individuals behind these pieces are not necessarily artists by trade, but were passionate about telling stories of woman-identified individuals’ power and leadership. The idea came out of a conversation held during the YWCA Youth Council’s summer book club wherein they were reading Elizabeth Renzetti’s Shrewed.
“[T]here's a chapter in the book that discusses the relationship between Mary Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft and we were remarking on how interesting it was that both of these women eventually got such recognition for their work and about how women's stories and history are often absorbed by their husbands,” explained Daniela Giulietti, the coordinator for the YWCA Youth Advisory Council.
Giulietti approached WAHC with the idea of creating an exhibition to combat this erasure and bring women’s stories to the forefront. This brought the WAHC Youth Council on board and the group decided to hold the exhibit at the WAHC, a massive two storey historic house on 51 Stuart Street.
October is Women’s History Month in Canada and this year’s theme has been designated with the #MakeAnImpact hashtag. The government has set up Women of Impact in Canada, an online gallery celebrating the achievements of remarkable women.
In the same vein, the collage workshop that produced the exhibition’s pieces began with the participants reflecting on women who inspire them. Some of these women were activists, authors and pop culture figures. Notable figures such as Toni Morrison and Beyoncé were highlighted in the pieces.
[spacer height="20px"]However, many were women that would not be found in national collections: mothers, sisters, grandmothers, aunts and friends. Hitoko Okada, a textile artist and Interim Programs Coordinator for the WAHC Youth Council, shared how her grandmother inspires her at this time in her life.
“[W]hen I'm weaving and sewing, I really feel like she is coming through and…even teaching my small movements of the hand…I just feel like that she's really with me and guiding me and encouraging me to connect to my ancestry through craft,” explained Okada.
“I feel like that's a knowledge that was transmitted to me through this…indirect way but it's a hand movement and a practice that…most of the women in our family have shared.”
The influence of family comes through in many of the collages. Several invoke domestic imagery and contain allusions to women relatives. One piece has clippings of a farm that reminded the artist of her grandmother’s farm where she grew up. Another seems to spell out Mom.
It is special that this exhibition provides a place for the stories of women that figure most prominently in our personal histories. In this time where the experiences of women are continuously being cast aside, it is empowering to have a space wherein the narratives of women are valued.
“[T]he timing ended up being really important because this was…when a lot of anti-survivor narratives were present in the media around the Brent Kavanaugh confirmation…[I]t felt for me like the space created was almost a really nice relief. You can see that in some of the pieces where there's survivors and I believe survivors, we believe survivors,” said Jordyn Perreault-Laird, a member of the YWCA Youth Council and Outreach and Partnerships Coordinator at WAHC.
The exhibition will culminate with a closing reception on Oct. 26, during which there will be a screening of the film, Bread and Roses. The film is inspired by the Justice for Janitors movement and tells the story of the janitorial strike in Los Angeles by undocumented immigrants and led by women.
The film sheds light on history that is often obscured by louder male narratives. It also demonstrates the power of young women and marginalized people to change their world. Creating space for the lesser known stories of women was one of the main goals of the exhibition as a whole. Reflecting on the success of the exhibit, Okada summed up the gravity of this impact.
“It really makes me think about the power of an image and the image of a woman in leadership. It speaks volumes. It's really so powerful…[it] gives me chills.”
The McMaster Students Union president-elect Ikram Farah and captain of the Marauders football team Mark Mackie may have a lot of differences, but one thing that brings them together is their shared ability to be a leader.
Farah, a fourth-year Honours Political Science and Labour Studies student pinpoints her first real position of leadership as when she served as the social sciences caucus leader on the Student Representative Assembly in 2016-2017.
Being elected as caucus leader was validation for Farah that people believed in her. Being chosen for simply being herself made her realize that she had it in her to run for MSU president.
Defensive end and kinesiology student Mackie on the other hand fell into his leadership role due to seniority. Returning for his fifth year after being cut from the Canadian Football League’s Edmonton Eskimos, he and the other fifth-years were the obvious choice to lead a team with such a large recruiting class.
The large amount of rookies posed as a bit of a challenge for head captain Mackie. Usually, the amount of recruits coming in is not that large, so it is easy for them to adapt to the team culture. Yet with so many senior players leaving the program before the start of the season, there was an imbalance of rookies and veterans.
“When you have that large of a recruiting class, it’s almost like we had two different groups,” said Mackie. “So getting used to that large of a group was challenging but fun,” he said.
For Farah, being the social sciences caucus leader gave her many valuable skills that surely transferred over to her being the successful presidential candidate. But one challenge she faced was getting over the fear of asking for help.
As a captain you set the tone how everyone else is going to act because everyone is watching you and trying to see what you will do during the play.
Captain of the Marauders football team
“I grew up very independent,” said Farah. “I always had my family and friends, but culturally you were supposed to be very goal-oriented and do things for yourself. The hardest time was during my time with the SRA, because I came in with one vision while four other people each had their own visions. As caucus leader I had to figure out how I was going to achieve my own goals and compliment everyone else.”
After three months Farah began to figure out how to collaborate and ask for help. Since then she has continued to do so with each new position and leadership role she has had.
Like Farah, Mackie has been able to apply the skills learned as captain in life in general, with one main skill being accountability.
“When you’re the younger guy you kind of just go with what everyone else is doing,” said Mackie. “As a captain you set the tone how everyone else is going to act because everyone is watching you and trying to see what you will do during the play.”
Many people expect a football to act up or create a scene due to the negative connotation that comes along with being a contact sport athlete. Though there are cases where this happens, it is not always the reality for the majority of players.
The fifth-year student has been previously awarded the Alma and Will Rice Memorial Scholarship, which is presented to the kinesiology student who proves outstanding academic achievements. Mackie also received the Ontario University Athletics nomination for the Russ Jackson Award, which “honours the football student-athlete who best exemplifies the attributes of academic achievement, football skill and citizenship.”
“If you get to know us a little bit more you will realize we are a special group of guys who come together and work really hard,” said Mackie. “It takes a really special person to balance both being a student and an athlete, so just because were playing a contact sport does not mean we are not working hard in the classroom as well.”
Farah, like Mackie, hopes to challenge how the student body sees her new leadership position.
“[I know people think that the] MSU president does not do enough, that you cannot do anything in a year and that it is just a role to put on their résumé,” said Farah. “That is fair to think but at the same time, I truly believe that depending on who you are you can do a lot in a year.”
The hardest time was during my time with the SRA, because I came in with one vision while four other people each had their own visions. As caucus leader I had to figure out how I was going to achieve my own goals and compliment everyone else.
McMaster Students Union president-elect
Now as president-elect, she is more confident than ever and is using the negativity as fuel.
“I want to be that person that people can look at and trust,” said Farah. “Obviously that is very optimistic, but I know my work ethic and I know I am the type of person to get things done and if I cannot get things done I know why I did not get it done and plan to be transparent about that.”
Although McMaster’s new MSU president-elect may not know anything about the National Football League, the Canadian Football League or even how the McMaster men’s football team did this season, the one thing she knows is there are life-long lessons that one can learn through football.
Being a football movie fanatic, Farah often quotes football coach Eric Taylor from the Friday Night Lights television series. She is also inspired by Denzel Washington’s performance as the head coach in Remember the Titans, where he was able to make the characters fight for something they collectively believed in — football — despite their racial differences.
“I think that’s a common theme within my courses and how I live my life,” said Farah. “Yes, we all have our differences and we all face adversity, but when you put that aside and put a collective goal first you’re unstoppable.”
Whether it be on the field or in the office, what it takes to be good leader remains the same. For Farah, this means being honest, transparent and someone who stands their ground. For Mackie, being accountable, a good listener and a team player are three things that make you a good leader.
As Farah prepares to embark on this new journey as MSU president and as Mackie returns to Edmonton for another shot at the CFL, both will be keeping these things in mind. They should also make sure to keep their eyes clear and their hearts full so that in the long run they will never lose.
When it comes to student union politics and political parties, the McMaster Students Union and the New Democratic Party often share insights, with both throwing their full support behind ideas like better public transportation and making tuition accessible.
And yet the NDP remain a quiet voice on the McMaster political landscape.
On Sept. 8, provincial NDP leader Andrea Horwath came to McMaster to talk about potential recommendations with student leaders. She met with many groups on campus, most notably the MSU board of directors, who talked to Horwath about what the NDP can do to represent students.
Hamilton has a long history with the NDP. There are currently three NDP members of provincial parliament in Hamilton. The city has often voted orange in the past and many of the student union recommendations mirror NDP policies concerning higher education, such as lowering tuition.
“. . . if we don’t get elected government, then all we can do is push the government to do the right thing. We’ve had some success, especially with respect to the work-integrated learning.”
National Democratic Party
The last time Horwath visited McMaster was in 2013. The then-current board of directors made a series of recommendations, mainly focused on making school affordable and creating experiential learning opportunities. In the years since, some of these recommendations have come to fruition. The introduction of a new Ontario grant for students and new work-integrated programs have been introduced under the Liberal government.
“As opposition, we can build things into our own platform during election time,” said Horwath. “We can engage with students in between elections and during campaigns and then if we don’t get elected government, then all we can do is push the government to do the right thing. We’ve had some success, especially with respect to the work-integrated learning.”
The NDP has also indirectly supported multiple campus initiatives, including April’s debate for light rail transit in Hamilton, which saw delegations from then vice president (Education), Blake Oliver. The NDP supported LRT and helped different communities access funding for it from the project’s early stages.
Despite the support for the NDP within the city and many shared policies between the party and the MSU, the NDP does not have a large presence on campus. McMaster NDP only has 278 likes on Facebook, while McMaster Young Liberals has 662 and the McMaster Conservatives has 580. Non-McMaster groups that still hold influence in the area, such as the Revolutionary Student Movement, also hold a much higher degree of support from the general population than any NDP group does at McMaster.Horwath credits this to the job opportunities that exist for those involved with the ruling party, the Liberals, which attracts the attention of many student leaders hoping to make impacts after graduation.
“I want to encourage students to get involved with the campus clubs and what comes from these connections. [My aide] was a student here for many years and works for me now. I know many people who work at Queen’s Park for me and the NDP party either on an election or with campus based clubs. I think sometimes people don’t see the connection getting involved with a club or an election and the job opportunities that come out of that,” said Horwath.
Nevertheless, Horwath continues to talk with student leaders and tries to work with them from the position she holds to implement their ideas. And as time marches forward, one can expect future student leaders to find success in fulfilling their visions whether they have the help of a political party or not.