Holding space for community stories through arts and culture journalism

C/O Anne Nygard

As the year comes to an end, it’s important to take the time to reflect on the past few months. This serves not only as an opportunity to measure and celebrate our successes but also to recognize our shortcomings. It allows us to hold ourselves accountable to the goals and promises we set out in the beginning.

As a section, there are two tenets that have guided our reporting this year: community connections and Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour perspectives. 

We have strived to place particular emphasis on the student community, especially during these strange and trying times. The fall semester saw the return of the Humans of McMaster column and in the winter semester, we have been able to report on how events such Mac Dance annual showcase and faculty musicals have been able to proceed in the pandemic.

We also have been thrilled to feature a number of student-led businesses and initiatives. These include but are not limited to Ashantae Handcrafted, Alethea Clark and her mother’s health and beauty business; the Potential Excellence podcast produced by second-year students Brian Osei-Boateng and Tevin Wellington; Desu Beauty, fourth-year Abi Oladesu’s makeup business; The Wig Hall, second-year Inès Ndzana’s wig company and ISAIAH III, fourth-year student Aaron Parry’s clothing brand celebrating African-Canadian identity and culture.

While many of these businesses were born out of student’s newfound time during the pandemic, they also reflect their unique interests and passions.

“Everyone has their own outlets of dealing with [burnout] and [ways] of finding healing and time to actually rest so that you can reenter the world. Art has always been mine for that. I think developing a business that reflects my creative interest and my community interest is kind of a daily reminder to actually do art to be creative and to look after myself,” said Parry.

“Everyone has their own outlets of dealing with [burnout] and [ways] of finding healing and time to actually rest so that you can reenter the world. Art has always been mine for that. I think developing a business that reflects my creative interest and my community interest is kind of a daily reminder to actually do art to be creative and to look after myself.”

Aaron Parry, founder of isaiah iii

Although the traditional Supercrawl celebrations were cancelled, we were still able to cover how the event affected students and also offer insight into how students have been affected as members of the larger Hamilton community during the pandemic.

There are few articles this year that have not alluded to the pandemic. It’s hung over all of us. It is difficult to forget about as we are constantly confronted with reminders of it, including the monotony of learning and working from home and the shift from print to online publication.

It was important to us to help capture how the events of 2020, including the pandemic-affected students and particularly their ability to form community. This desire spurred the creation of the new Sil Time Capsule series as we sought to share the experiences of students in the larger, international community as well.

“2020 has been an eventful and unprecedented year and as a student newspaper, we have a responsibility to acknowledge these events, inform our peers and raise awareness about them. We also have a responsibility to address the ways in which they have affected and influenced not only the wider world but also our own community. This Time Capsule series is one way by which we are working to do justice to the events and issues of this year and their influence on the communities big and small of which we are a part,” explained both Adrian Salopek and myself in the introductory article on the Time Capsule series.

We also attempted to raise awareness about opportunities for students to connect with the McMaster and Hamilton communities even if they were not in the city proper, such as through pen pal initiatives, the Hamilton Public Library and series like virtual nightclub Bedroom Dancing. These initiatives are examples of the way the community has stepped up to support each other and bring some joy to each other during these difficult days.

“I hope that [the attendees] can feel invigorated to move a little more in their own way . . . [and] connect with the community. That’s my ultimate goal,” explained Rachel Mae, also known as DJ Donna Lovejoy, who co-hosted Bedroom Dancing. 

We have strived to hold space for the stories and voices of the BIPOC community at McMaster and Hamilton, which have often been underrepresented in the Silhouette’s coverage. 

Representation matters and as a section, it’s been extremely important to us to report on stories that reflect the diversity of our community. We've been delighted to feature businesses and organizations like Mixed in Hamilton, Take Up Space, Beads in the Trap, Shop Boho, BlkOwnedHamont and Filipinas of HamONT. However, in the future, we could strive to feature more Indigenous stories in our arts and culture coverage.

Representation matters and as a section, it’s been extremely important to us to report on stories that reflect the diversity of our community. We've been delighted to feature businesses and organizations like Mixed in Hamilton, Take Up Space, Beads in the Trap, Shop Boho, BlkOwnedHamont and Filipinas of HamONT. However, in the future, we could strive to feature more Indigenous stories in our arts and culture coverage.

In our annual Sex and the Steel City special issue, we endeavoured to bring these two tenets of community and BIPOC perspectives together to do justice to the diversity of cultures and communities on campus and in Hamilton.

“I think COVID-19 has made this issue all the more urgent. This pandemic has upended relationships, cancelled sex lives and wreaked havoc on our collective health. But it has also highlighted the importance of these things. We crave connection perhaps more than we ever have. So in this year’s Sex and the Steel City, we have sought to tell stories of connection. Not just stories of romantic relationships, but also stories of the relationships with our family members, our friends and ourselves. I hope you know that you’re part of a community that loves and looks forward to this issue, be it your first Sex and the Steel City or your millionth,” wrote Arts & Culture Editor Rya Buckley in her opening letter for this year’s Sex and the Steel City issue.

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We also attempted to revive the Sil’s Black Futures issue and while it was not quite as successful as we had hoped it would be, we were grateful to be able to offer a platform for Hamilton’s first Black Film Festival, the new Black and IPOC-focused clubs making a difference on campus and what McMaster alum Michael Abraham has been up to. Just as these individuals and their initiatives hold space for the Black community, it was important to us to hold space for their stories.

“The reason why I am part of these clubs is because I want to do whatever I can to best support the Black community. Because oftentimes a major issue is just lack of information. People aren’t aware of these opportunities. In being in these roles, we’re able to share different opportunities with the people who are part of our club . . . and just keeping them tapped in because that’s really important. Overall, [I am] just looking for ways to support the community in whatever capacity that I can. That’s why I’m involved in these clubs,” said Anu Popoola, a second-year student involved in the Black Student Mentorship Program and Black Aspiring Physicians McMaster.

The last few weeks in particular we have placed renewed emphasis on sharing BIPOC stories, especially those close to the hearts of section staff. We are grateful to have featured initiatives such as speqtrum’s Food Talks series, Goodbodyfeel’s fueling reclamation initiative and Red Betty Theatre’s Decolonize Your Ears. We’ve also had the privilege to interview businesses such as Thirty Wolves Designs and Verte Beauty.

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“It’s overdue. This kind of investment into BIPOC leadership is overdue [and] it’s easy reparations for the folks who are like, “Oh, I’m so overwhelmed. How I can contribute to anti-racist work?” Here you go, here’s a really easy way to do it. Just help fund it, help spread the word, help empower our future changemakers. If we’re fully fueling BIPOC leadership, we are fueling an equitable future,” explained Robin Lacambra, founder and owner of Goodbodyfeel.

While Lacambra was speaking about her studio’s fueling reclamation initiative, the same can be said of all institutions and industries. Being a reporter is a privilege and it’s one we endeavoured to wield wisely as we’ve strived to support our community through this trying year, while also holding space for BIPOC stories and voices in our section.

There is always room for improvement though and hopefully, in the future, the section continues to allow these tenets to guide their work.

Photo C/O David Moll

By Jovan Popovic, Staff Writer

Another year is in the books for McMaster sports. While it was a little earlier than expected, it was a successful year nonetheless. Since so much happened, I suggest you strap in and tighten your seatbelts while I try to recap it all. 

Unfortunately, both the volleyball and wrestling teams were unable to finish their seasons. Growing concerns about COVID-19 led to many cancellations for McMaster athletics, but most sports were still able to get a full season in. 

The biggest winners from McMaster’s 2019-2020 sports teams include the football team, the women’s curling team, and the men’s cross country team, each finishing the year with great accomplishments and motivation for more. 

The football team managed to bring home the Yates cup, meaning they were the best team in the province! The Marauders managed to bring down the perennially tough University of Western Mustangs, who were the favourites to take home a fourth straight Yates cup. However, our Marauders successfully quelled the Mustangs’ thirst for the four peat, bringing home the cup for the eighth time in school history. 

Men's football team. Photo C/O David Moll.

Men's football team. Photo C/O David Moll.

Six players were named to the All-star teams, including superstar defensive back Noah Hallett, who became the first Marauder since 2016 to make the football first team All-Canadian. The team continued their journey to the Vanier cup, where they unfortunately ended their season with a semi-final loss to the University of Calgary Dinos, who went on to win the national championship. Following their excellent season, the Marauders ranked fourth in the nation, which is a significant jump from their ninth place rank last season. 

The women’s curling team was the next success story from the year, winning their first provincial title since 1995. The Marauders were the highest ranked team entering the tournament and lived up to the hype, beating the University of Queen’s Gaels with a score of seven to five in the finals. McMaster’s team went on to the national championship, where they placed fourth overall. In a hard fought rematch of the Ontario University Athletics finals, the Marauders lost to the Queen’s Gaels in the national tournament. Not only had the Marauders beat Queen’s in the provincial final, but also earlier in that same national tournament. Grace Lloyd was named a first team All-Canadian after the playoff run. 

As per usual, McMaster’s powerhouse cross country team showed up big, ranking as the second best team in the nation for the second straight year. The team managed to finish second overall in their annual U Sports tournament, only falling short to the Calgary Dinos, who successfully defended their title. Alex Drover and Max Turek were among McMaster’s top performers, finishing sixth and seventh, and both were named first team All-Canadians. 

For the women’s track team, team captain Caroline Forbes and first-year student Morgan McKeown dominated on the track. They became the first female track athletes to represent McMaster at nationals in the 3000 meter race since 2014. In the contest, McKeown finished ninth overall while Forbes just missed the top ten, nabbing 11th place.

The men’s wrestling team was yet another team that drew success this season, despite their season being cut short. After three silver medals and a bronze at the U Sports championships, the team looked great going into nationals. The tournament was cancelled due to concerns of spreading COVID-19, which was a necessary call to make. Unfortunately, the team was never able to put their skills on display at the national level. With that being said, it was still a successful season overall. 

Moving onto men’s volleyball, the program has been one of McMaster’s best for a long time and this season was no different. The team finished the season with a bronze medal in the OUA championship, sweeping the University of Guelph Gryphons in the final game of the OUA tournament. They had an outstanding regular season record of 16-2. Nathan Delguidice made the All-Canadian team, as well as the OUA first team, both of which were career firsts for him. Similar to men’s wrestling, the remainder of the season was cancelled. The team will have to wait another year to represent McMaster at the national level. 

Now, onto winter sports. The figure skating team finished off a strong season in third place after their championship tournament. This high performance year was mainly supported by standout skater Belvina Mao, who was the lone gold medalist for the team. 

In other winter sports news, Nordic skiing made its McMaster debut in 2019, marking this past year as the first for the school's newest sports team. The women’s team impressed with a fourth place finish with the help of Soren Meeuwisse’s strong performance, leading to her being named an OUA All-star! Placing fourth for the squad is an incredible feat for a brand new team. 

Nordic skiing. Photo C/O Mark Dewan.

Nordic skiing. Photo C/O Mark Dewan.

Marauders basketball proved to be exciting once again, despite no podium finishes. Both the men’s and women's teams ended up losing in the quarterfinal, with the women’s team losing to the number one seeded Western Mustangs, and the men losing to the number one seeded Carlton Ravens, who won the championships to continue their dynasty. Second year guard Jordan Henry continued to show his value as a young developing talent, earning OUA second team All-star honours. From the women’s team, Sarah Gates earned an OUA second team All-star nod and Christina Buttenham took home the defensive player of the year award. Unfortunately, the women’s team was unable to repeat the success of last season where they won the national championship, but this year was nonetheless great in it’s own right. The finish was significant, as the team will continue to gain experience and develop, looking to regain their championship form for years to come. 

The women’s rugby team is becoming quite familiar with the podium, as they earned their third straight bronze medal this season. They defeated the Brock Badgers 41-3 in the bronze medal game, earning them a 10th place ranking in the nation after being previously unranked. Katie McLeod and Taylor Price were both named OUA All-Stars after their strong performances this season. 

McMaster soccer saw the same results as basketball this season, with both the men’s and women’s teams being eliminated in the quarterfinals. Anand Sergeant maintained his status as an OUA West first team All-star for a second consecutive season, while the team captain Yordan Stoyanov, Dusan Kovacevic and Matt Monteiro were all named to the second team. Regarding the women’s team, Steph Roberts made the division's first team All-star group for her second straight season. On top of this, Hannah Chau-Stacey and Carling Goold were named to the second team.

It’s important we acknowledge the tragic loss of the team’s former head coach Joe Valvasori, who was not only an outstanding coach, but an essential part of our community. The adversity the women’s team showed this year was nothing short of remarkable. It’s safe to say that Valvasori would have certiainly been proud. 

The baseball season finished in the fall with the men losing in the semi-finals to the Laurier Golden Hawks, who went on to win the tournament. Despite being unable to place, the team had many significant accomplishments throughout the season, including outfielder Nik Motruk being named a co-recipient of the OUA’s Most Valuable Player award, as well as the sole winner of the top hitter award for the conference. Motruk also earned OUA first team All-star honours along with his teammate Michael Ong. Sliding over to women’s softball, the team managed to win the Ontario Intercollegiate Women’s Fastpitch Association bronze medal this year. Emily Campbell was one of the team’s studs throughout the year, having won female athlete of the week earlier this year. 

Coach Quinn Fairley of the men’s water polo team won his second consecutive coach of the year award following his team's loss to Queen’s in the bronze medal round, earning them fourth place this season. This year’s award marks coach Fairley’s fifth in his career. Colin Colterjohn, the team’s star player, was named an All-star for the fifth time in his career as well. 

To cap it all off, Talia Ng of the badminton team shined this season, achieving an absurd undefeated record of seven wins and zero losses at the OUA championship, aiding the team in securing their fifth place finish in the tournament. Ng, being in her first year, is among many young athletes on the badminton team, whose talent will only mature in future years. McMaster is set to be a future powerhouse team in this sport, and will undoubtedly be a great team to watch for years to come. 

While the school year was cut short, it is important to focus on past successes, especially in troubling times like these. Hopefully the which are hopefully an indication of great things to come. All in all, it’s safe to say 2019-2020 was a successful year for McMaster sports across the board, which could be an indication of great years to come. We are certainly primed for a great year next year.

 

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