C/O Jessica Yang

Holding space for the stories closest to our hearts 

One of the first articles I wrote for the Silhouette was for the 2020 Sex and the Steel City issue. As I struggled to come up with an idea, I remember feeling daunted and underqualified to tackle the topics at the heart of the issue. I agonized over that article, rewriting it half a dozen times before I got a draft I was even remotely happy with. But after, I also appreciated the space writing that article offered me to think about the questions of love, intimacy and relationships—and then the space the issue offered to read the stories and thoughts of others as well.  

Just like that early article, I’ve agonized over this issue, too. When I started planning it, I felt just as daunted and underqualified as I did before. Sex and the Steel City is a unique special issue, close to the hearts of so many people and I wanted to do justice to that, but I didn’t know what I had to bring to the issue. 

And I kept thinking about the space that first article gave me, the spaces I’ve strived to offer interviewees as a reporter and my writers as an editor, and I thought about the unique, wonderful safety inherent in community — in a space where you are free to not only be yourself but also able to even just figure out who you are to begin with, without having to worry about protecting yourself or the expectations of others and knowing you have people in your corner who see you and will support you. 

This same sense of safety, of community, is a key part of Sex and the Steel City. It’s what allows this issue to offer the space it does to not only its contributors to share the stories closest to their hearts, but also to its readers to feel seen and heard, to know they are not alone. In this year’s issue, we’ve tried to honour the importance of community, highlight the ones that have built us up as well as those we’ve built through love, intimacy and relationships. 

Sex and the Steel City is a community project, a true labour of love. Thank you to everyone who contributed to this issue, who shared their stories and their artwork; it has been a privilege to hear your stories over these past few weeks. Thank you to everyone on staff who wrote for and created and organized this issue. This will be the largest issue of the Silhouette to date and it wouldn’t have been possible without you. 

For everyone who reads this issue, though, I hope you feel some of that same sense of community, too. I hope you can see yourself somewhere in these pages, even if it’s just in one image or one story, and know you are not alone. 

But if you don’t, because I also know there are stories missing from the pages of this issue, stories still to be told, I hope you know there is still space for you here, just as you are. I like to think that’s why we do this issue every year, so everyone has a chance to tell their story.  

C/O Austin Distel, Unsplash

McMaster’s new podcast, Bounce, releases its first episode to share community stories of overcoming struggles

Post-secondary education is often accompanied by many stressors and the ongoing pandemic has only added to the struggles that university students face. 

As a new mental health initiative, Bounce is a McMaster-based podcast that was announced at the beginning of September. The podcast aims to help students combat their stress by making them feel less alone. 

According to Catherine Munn, the project lead, the idea for Bounce originated from a similar project at the University of Victoria wherein faculty and alumni feature in videos about overcoming difficult experiences that they have had.

After hearing about this project from McMaster professor David Clarke, Munn reached out to Rebecca Gagan, the professor who developed Bounce at the University of Victoria. With Gagan’s permission, Munn developed McMaster’s version of Bounce; the name Bounce signifies the importance of bouncing back from difficult situations. 

The name Bounce signifies the importance of bouncing back from difficult situations

While Bounce at McMaster was originally intended to exist in a video format, COVID-19 challenges led to its creation as a podcast instead. Munn remarked that, although Bounce was originally intended to be a series of videos, the podcast format has unique advantages. 

“[There are] lots of great things about the podcast, just having a longer period of time to talk to people and, in a way, a more intimate, more personal kind of chance to connect,” said Munn. 

“[There are] lots of great things about the podcast, just having a longer period of time to talk to people and, in a way, a more intimate, more personal kind of chance to connect.”

Catherine Munn, Bounce Podcast Project Lead

Munn emphasized the importance of sharing stories to create community and help people through their individual struggles. 

“[Sharing stories] can offer hope to people that are in a bad place and also connect us to one another as a community of people that sometimes can seem pretty far apart,” explained Munn. 

Munn noted that students can often feel disconnected from faculty and even from each other; however, she hopes that with Bounce, students can feel a greater connection to others in the McMaster community. 

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“Our committee believes that we can help people to become more resilient by sharing stories. [W]hen we share our experiences and our stories with one another, we actually help give each other ideas about how [to] get through [difficult situations]. It helps [people] understand that [they] may not be alone in struggling with what [they are] struggling with,” explained Munn. “I think we're hoping that this helps people feel a little less alone.”

“I think we're hoping that this helps people feel a little less alone.”

Catherine Munn, Bounce Podcast Project Lead

On Oct. 1, Bounce released its first episode with Zeinab Khawaja as the special guest. Khawaja is a McMaster alum from the class of 2017 and currently a health promoter at the Student Wellness Centre. In this episode, Khawaja talks about her previous experiences as an undergraduate student and how she navigated that along with being a wife in an arranged marriage. 

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Students can listen to Bounce on the McMaster Okanagan website or on any major podcast platforms such as Spotify, Apple and Google. 

Photos C/O Steel City Stories

By: Neda Pirouzmand

Abeer Siddiqui, McMaster’s librarian and adjunct lecturer for the school of interdisciplinary science, partnered with Steel City Stories to create “Science: an evening of true, personal stories about science,” an event held on March 12 featuring personal stories told by STEM professionals to community members.

Hamilton storyteller Lisa Hunt, a member of the Steel City Stories Planning Committee, met Siddiqui through the LIFESCI 4L03 course. This new course was designed and implemented just this past fall by Siddiqui and her co-instructor.

Hunt introduced students to the art of oral storytelling through a guest lecture and provided feedback to students in the class.

Speakers at the story-telling event last week included Roopali Chaudhary, the owner of a cake business called (C6H12O6)^3. Her first order came from the McMaster’s biology department. Chaudhary made them a Madagascar hissing cockroach cake for a retiring entomologist who supposedly loved the insect.

The department of biology now commonly orders cakes from her online business.

Chaudhary promotes her creations by bringing awareness to the importance of communication in science. Her passion is driven by a goal to combine art and science in an edible form.

The story she shared revealed the path that led her to where she is today.

“My story was inspired by a critical moment in my life as a post-doc that completely changed how I viewed science as a whole,” said Chaudhary. “It led me to quit my research position, but also allowed me continue doing everything I loved about science without organizational constraints that had been holding me back. Now I get to bake cakes too, and I am happy.”

Rodrigo Narro Perez shared his story of immigrating to Canada at a young age. He highlighted the first decade of his rocky journey to learn English and integrate with Canadian culture.

“My first day of school is vivid in my mind. My parents decided to enroll me in primary school just three days after arriving in the frigid cold of Canada’s November,” said Perez. “When they introduced me to my teacher Ms. Smith, I did what every good Peruvian boy would do and I tried to kiss her on the cheek. I will never forgive my parents.”

As a sessional instructor for McMaster’s school of geography and earth sciences, Perez piloted a field course to bring 10 McMaster students to his home of Peru. As the liaison between two countries, he is responsible for the translation of documents and conversations crucial to his research on the retreat of South American glaciers.

“The fact that my two homes are collaborating in the pursuit of greater knowledge is extremely meaningful to me. I have fully embraced that Peru and Canada are a part of me, not one is more and not one is less,” he said.

McMaster university librarians built on their momentum from the story-telling event and continued to celebrate contributions to STEM by by giving away about 3,000 pies in H.G. Thode Library, Hamilton Hall and Mills Memorial Library for Pi day.

On April 24, an open house will give students a first-hand look at iconic scientific texts, dating from the 12th century to present day.


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Photo C/O Matt Barnes

I fell in love with hip hop around 2013 when I listened to my first rap album, Drake’s Nothing Was the Same. To me, hip hop is an art of storytelling, rooted in struggle and triumph. It has its haters and it is not perfect, but it has also saved and changed countless lives.

In the tradition of the 1970s New York City DJs and MCs that founded the genre, the guardians of modern hip hop are innovative, creative and heartfelt. Anyone can pick up the mic and tell their stories. As fans, we just need to turn up the volume on game-changing artists.

Buddah Abusah is a Hamilton-born and raised creator spreading a message of peace and love. He began writing at the age of 11 and rapping seriously at the age of 16. Haviah Mighty is a Toronto-born, Brampton-raised musician who is also a member of the rap group The Sorority. She began rapping at the age of 12, combining her seven years of singing lessons with her newfound interest in hip hop.

I spoke separately to these two local rappers about their thoughts on hip hop. Both artists spoke about the importance of the genre not only because of the music, but because of the culture.


Is there a message that you like to convey with your music?

Buddah Abusah: My inner city message is letting all artists know that no matter where you're from, [as] long as you put your mind to it, you can be successful in your way. [I want to] show people [that if you] put your mind to it and indulge yourself properly, you can get yourself to that gold, platinum status [that] Canadians are doing more often now. Also… the message I want to give out is that all my music is to peace, love and equality. No matter what goes down, just treat it with peace and love because at the end of the day that's what everybody needs.

Haviah Mighty: I definitely like to pull from the rawest, truest points of my life to try to create the most effective message possible, which is usually the things that are most important to me. The narrative will always change based on the shifting of the energies around us and things that are happening. But I would definitely say… just being a Black female, I am political in nature. The hair that I have, the skin tone that I have, the gender that I am and what I chose to do for a career are to some people very oxymoronic. I think naturally just my look and my delivery and my vibe is a little bit of an empowering, stepping out of your element, believing in your true self kind of message before even opening my mouth. I don't think that's something I can really escape or run from and I'm actually very happy to naturally represents that. I feel that people around me resonate with that.


What’s the best part of the hip hop artist community?

BA: Best part is the growth. For me I love seeing individuals or an individual put their mind to something and watch it come into fruition. Right now I'm doing that with a couple people/groups. I've worked with some of them in the past and just watching them help the culture of [Hamilton] is the best part because I know this city will get there. Like everybody knows the city is growing. And it'll be interesting seeing Hamilton have their own culture and their own sound like how Toronto has their own sound. Hamilton is far enough where we see Toronto and we want to be like the [greater Toronto area] and be included like the GTA, but we still want our own.


HM: The best part of the hip hop community is the community. I think hip hop is very cultural and the community is very culture-based… [W]ithin hip hop in my experience, you can go to different venues and it's like these are people that you've grown up with because at the cultural level, you guys are so connected. It might be the same for punk music and rock and stuff [but] I'm not as embedded in those communities to know. I think for me it's the beautiful marriage between the sonic vibe of hip hop and then just like the community of hip hop and how different yet similar those two things are.

What’s next for you?

BA: I'm going to be releasing new material spring, summer time. I've just been working with other artists, doing some production, audio engineering. And other than that, I'm just taking my sweet, sweet time. I'm not trying to [give] you the exact same trap sound that you're always hearing on the radio or that your friends play. I'm here giving you something completely different. I'm giving you good vibes, I'm giving you vibes for strictly hippies… My goal with this is creating an entirety of a sound for the city.

HM: I have an album coming out. I'm hoping that this can really open up some interesting conversations. I'm really hoping that we can see some shifts in female hip hop and what we expect from being a female in hip hop and what we expect from I guess just the gender expectations. I would love to see some of those surpassed with some of the stuff I'm coming out with. But definitely just trying to contribute positively to the hip hop community and that hip hop culture and to tell good, impactful stories that can make some good change.




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Photos by Kyle West

On Jan. 30, the annual Bell Let’s Talk Day, an advertising campaign created by Bell Canada, took the country by storm. In an effort to raise awareness and combat stigma surrounding mental health in Canada, Bell donated money to mental health funds for every social interaction with campaigns hashtag.

While the world tweeted, snapped and Instagram-ed away, The McMaster Women’s Athletic Leadership Committee took it one step further and hosted their first-ever Bell Let’s Talk event.

The event consisted of McMaster student-athletes sharing their personal stories in an open and safe environment that was open to the entire McMaster community. Five student-athletes, Sabrina Schindel, Allison Sippel, Aurora Zuraw, Nicolas Belliveau and Louis Sharland, took the floor and led discussions on depression, eating disorders, language and anxiety and men’s mental health.


The event was a success with a great turn out that included open discussion and much-needed conversations on mental health and how it affects athletes, in addition to the right steps that need to be taken to combat different stigmas.

“At first, I was expecting it to be a small event with just members of WALC, but to have my teammates, friends and people I didn’t even know come out to support was so amazing and inspiring,” said Sippel, the initiator for the event.

The idea for the event came up after Sippel, a cross-country runner, wanted to be able to create an open space for people to be able to talk about their battles with mental health.

“I feel like if we are able to create a space where people are open to talking, there would be less of a stigma around it,” said Sippel.

She first wrote down her story after she got out of the hospital after suffering from an eating disorder. After reading it to her close friends and family members, she never really shared it with the public. But when the idea of creating an event for Bell Let’s Talk came up, the idea of the panel sharing personal stories came to mind.

Working with Claire Arsenault, McMaster’s Athlete Services Coordinator and WALC, the panel that would originally be a conversation for members of the committee grew to more.

“I was happy that male athletes joined in and it was really inspirational that the group of us could be able to share our stories,” said Sippel.

🗣️ #OneTeamForMentalHealth 🗣️

Ask someone how they are doing.

📸 @MPHcentral#WeAreONE | #BellLetsTalk pic.twitter.com/OlmEeBWH9r

— Ontario University Athletics (@OUAsport) January 31, 2019

Each speaker shared their story then opened up the floor for discussion, answering questions in regard to their experiences, advice for others and much more.

During the panel, Sippel shared her story about how her eating disorder led her to be hospitalized when she was 14 years old. After losing too much weight and no longer being allowed to run, her journey to bounce back was not easy.

“This illness had turned mind against body and person against person because nurses were trained to trust no one,” Sippel explained about her time in the hospital.

Eventually, Sippel showed signs of improvement and was allowed to leave the hospital and return to her everyday life. Fast-forward to today, and she is now running on the Mac cross-country team while trying her best to stay on top of her condition.

“It’s a lifetime of fighting against my mind so I never had to go back,” Sippel said.

For Sippel, having the student-athletes lead this conversation was important for a number of reasons.

“I feel like a lot of times, it is frowned upon to express our feelings. If we start the conversation, there is no better way to set an example for our fellow students,” said Sippel. “Hopefully five students sharing their stories can spiral into something bigger and start a movement.”


Schindel, another one of the five student-athletes who shared their stories, is a lacrosse player who suffered from depression. Through the ups and downs of dealing with her battle, she eventually discovered that staying busy and active is what kept helped her out the most. This meant that when her lacrosse season was over, she would have to find something to keep her occupied so she did not fall down that dark hole again.

“Realizing that no one is beyond help and getting in front of my depression before it could do the same damage it used to,” Schindel explained as the steps she takes to keep herself from falling again.

Schindel’s story, though devastating, is more common amongst young people than one may think. This is why it is so important that these conversations are happening. Having the bravery to start the conversation, and sharing tips and resources with their fellow students is a great way for Marauders to do their part in helping end the stigma surrounding mental health.


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Photo C/O @hamiltonwinterfest

By: Natalie Clark

Hamilton has been getting its fair share of the winter weather this season, so in what better way to embrace it than to explore all that Winterfest 2019 has to offer?

Winterfest is a two-week long affair that features winter events in and around the city. Beginning Feb. 1, there will be free and paid events held throughout Hamilton such as open skate, live music and various themed events. Take a break from studying and enjoy the winter weather while taking part in this timely Hamilton tradition.


Live Music by Matt Mays

Juno Award winner and Hamilton born indie rock singer/songwriter Matt Mays will be performing at Hamilton Central Public Library on Feb. 10. Mays is currently on his Dark Promises Tour and will be making a pit stop in his hometown for an intimate show. Head on down to Hamilton Central Public Library for some of the best music Hamilton has to offer. This is a paid event and tickets can be purchased on Eventbrite.



Frost Bites Performance Festival

Frost Bites is a four-day event in partnership with Hamilton Fringe featuring some of Hamilton’s best theatre performers. Each night, artists will perform “bites” of theatre shows that are meant to last no longer than 20 minutes each. The festival will also be taking place on Feb. 14 to Feb. 17 at two community locations, the New Vision United Church and St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church.



Celebrate Black History Month in Hamilton

On Feb. 13, Winterfest will be holding a lecture featuring guest speaker Kojo “Easy” Damptey, an afro-soul musician and scholar-practitioner. Born and raised in Ghana, he attempts to address societal issues and enact change in the world with his lyrics. He will be speaking on behalf of stories of existence, resilience and resistance. The event is free and will be held at the Historic Ancaster Old Town Hall. All are welcome to join the celebration and commemoration of Black History Month.



Learn to Knit

Stressed? Bored? Dying to pick up a new hobby? If any of those resonate with you then this beginners knitting course may be up your alley. For $90 you’ll learn the basics of knitting over the course of three classes, running on Wednesdays from Feb. 13 to Feb. 27. Grab a group of friends and head down to the Art Aggregate in East Hamilton for all the tips and tricks you need to know about knitting.




Tai Chi Open House

In honour of the beginning of the Chinese New Year on Feb. 5, Barton Stone Church will be hosting a Fung Loy Kok Taoist Tai Chi Open House on Feb. 9. This event is free and includes a demonstration and class, as well as various hot drinks including tea and apple cider! There will be volunteer staff available to chat with you about their class schedule, as well as information about the benefits of Taoist Tai Chi. The event is sure to be a warm evening full of new learning experiences.


The Canteen

The Canteen is one of Hamilton Winterfest’s signature events. Featuring live music from a variety of artists, including Hamilton-based singer/songwriter Ellis, a cozy fire, winter marketplace and various other events, this event is worth the trip to the Battlefield House Museum & Park National Historic Site on 77 King Street West. The location is also known as one of Canada’s most significant monuments of the War of 1812. Aside from participating in the event’s attractions, you are also welcome to explore the museum and historic grounds on site. This is an all-day event taking place on Feb. 16 starting at 10 a.m.



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