gabrielle plonka – The Langara Voice https://www.langaravoice.ca News, entertainment and sports from Langara College journalism students Tue, 13 Nov 2018 00:08:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.8.1 https://www.langaravoice.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/LOGO-100x100.png gabrielle plonka – The Langara Voice https://www.langaravoice.ca 32 32 Richmond councillors are split on proportional representation https://www.langaravoice.ca/richmond-councillors-are-split-on-proportional-representation/ Fri, 09 Nov 2018 18:00:36 +0000 https://www.langaravoice.ca/?p=34340 Richmond’s newly elected city council is divided on partisan lines about whether a move to proportional representation would be a positive change for B.C. Councillors Bill McNulty and Linda McPhail from the Richmond First party and independent Alexa Loo are against making that kind of electoral reform, which British Columbians are voting on until Nov. […]]]>

Richmond’s newly elected city council is divided on partisan lines about whether a move to proportional representation would be a positive change for B.C.

Councillors Bill McNulty and Linda McPhail from the Richmond First party and independent Alexa Loo are against making that kind of electoral reform, which British Columbians are voting on until Nov. 30. They say the referendum ballot is too confusing, options for change are too vague, and proportional representation may leave out minority groups.

Some say reform is necessary to represent Richmond voices

But Councillors Harold Steves from the Richmond Citizens’ Association and Michael Wolfe from the Richmond Independent Team of Electors are in favour of proportional representation because they believe the current system doesn’t accurately reflect the wishes of voters.

“For about 15 years … our provincial representatives have all been from the same parties. So that’s kind of surprising for me to hear that there are Richmond citizens, Richmond voters, Richmond councillors who maybe don’t see that,” Wolfe said.

The referendum, which comes from a campaign promise made by Premier John Horgan, has been hotly debated within the provincial government, with NDP and Green members supporting it, while B.C. Liberals are opposing it.

Steves said that Richmond’s diverse community requires more representation than is offered by the current first-past-the-post system. He is in favour of a proportional-representation system, because he thinks it will ensure that all voices are heard.

“For the last 45 years, my vote hasn’t counted,” Steves said. “My vote doesn’t count towards the overall establishment of the number of votes the government gets, and I think that’s wrong.”

Ballot is poorly laid out, others say

For McNulty and McPhail, a major issue with the referendum is with the ballot itself, which they say is too confusing for voters to make an educated decision.

“They have no plan,” McNulty said. “That is very dangerous. The thing is, you don’t know what you’re approving.”

McNulty is fearful that if the referendum is approved, it may be up to third-party groups to decide how exactly regions will be combined, “not knowing the history and geography of it, not getting input from people who are already [in those regions].”

Wolfe said that some ambiguity on the ballot is to be expected when presenting brand-new ideas.

“These are made-in-B.C. solutions, so we shouldn’t have it all figured out,” Wolfe said. “We’re trying to find the best way to represent a diverse population.”

For Wolfe, the onus is on voters to educate themselves on different types of proportional representation before reading the ballot, a task that should be easy with the abundance of explanatory resources available online.

Alexa Loo, an independent councillor, takes issue with the ethics of the referendum as well as the logistical reality of electoral reform.

“[The referendum] is not democratic as far as I’m concerned,” Loo said. “People are changing the rules who are in power, and that’s not how this should happen.”

Loo believes that electoral reform should be presented by citizens’ committees who can examine the issues from a non-partisan stance.

However, if the referendum had been presented differently, Loo still wouldn’t vote in its favour.

Minority groups may be underrepresented under proportional representation

“[Proportional representation] creates the possibility that your fringe groups are the ones that get to hold the balance of power,” Loo said.

Loo explained, as an example, that an acquaintance recently expressed fear of an anti-abortion party winning seats under proportional representation and changing abortion laws.

“What kind of rights might I lose, or my fellow females lose, or people of colour or Aboriginal people?” Loo said. “[Minority groups] are not the ones being better represented, they’re actually the ones that could lose out.”

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Meditation teacher offers free meditation classes https://www.langaravoice.ca/meditation-teacher-offers-free-meditation-classes/ Fri, 09 Nov 2018 16:00:25 +0000 https://www.langaravoice.ca/?p=34371 Reported by Mathilda de Villiers Meditation has been proven to help people stay centered and focused in times of stress, according to a local teacher of the practice. Sunil Khatri offers free meditation classes every Tuesday on Main Street and 64th Avenue. He teaches a practice called Sahaja Yoga meditation, which stems from ancient India. […]]]>

Reported by Mathilda de Villiers

Meditation has been proven to help people stay centered and focused in times of stress, according to a local teacher of the practice.

Sunil Khatri offers free meditation classes every Tuesday on Main Street and 64th Avenue. He teaches a practice called Sahaja Yoga meditation, which stems from ancient India. Sahaja means ‘born within’ and refers to the practice of using self-realization as a guide.

According to Khatri, meditation teaches you how to be more productive and react to situations differently, making it a valuable tool for stressed students.

“In less time, you could achieve more,” he said.

Sunil Khatri seated in a meditative pose activating the energy before his meditation class at WorkSafe B.C.. Photo by Mathilda de Villiers
Beneficial for students

For students who lead busy lives and think they don’t have time to meditate, it can be incorporated as easily as showering or brushing teeth.  According to Khatri, five or ten minutes a day is enough for the practice to have benefits.

“Shower is for the external body, and meditation is for your internal cleaning,” he said.

Megha Mohan has been attending Khatri’s classes for about two months, and she said it has already made a difference.

“I am a lot more calm than I used to be. I used to be very reactive to situations, and took everything personally,” she said.

Mohan believes students can benefit from meditation if they are willing to try it, but you can’t force people into it.

“It has to come from within,” she said.

Langara’s view

Linda Turner, manager of health and human services at Langara College, offers two mindfulness courses through continuing studies that teach meditation practices. For Turner, the benefits are essential.

“Usually our minds are busy with a lot of chatter, and not necessarily accurate or a reflection of reality,” she said.

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Some say the Richmond Oval takes more than it gives to residents https://www.langaravoice.ca/the-richmond-oval-takes-more-than-it-gives-to-residents/ Tue, 23 Oct 2018 01:54:07 +0000 https://www.langaravoice.ca/?p=33800 Reported by Gabrielle Plonka A Richmond mayoral candidate is calling for more information about the finances of the Olympic Oval Corporation, reigniting a decade-long controversy over the oval’s claims of being independently profitable despite benefiting from millions of taxpayer dollars. The oval corporation, chaired by the city of Richmond’s administrative officer, George Duncan, claimed a […]]]>

Reported by Gabrielle Plonka

A Richmond mayoral candidate is calling for more information about the finances of the Olympic Oval Corporation, reigniting a decade-long controversy over the oval’s claims of being independently profitable despite benefiting from millions of taxpayer dollars.

The oval corporation, chaired by the city of Richmond’s administrative officer, George Duncan, claimed a surplus of $1.2 million in 2017, which meant that one-third of taxpayer contributions were placed in oval reserves – and unavailable for use by the city’s other cash-strapped community centres.

City officials have always said that the oval provides a valuable amenity to Richmond residents and so deserves taxpayer support.

But mayoral candidate Donald Flintoff believes that if the oval claims to be a profitable corporation, even though it’s functioning as a city community centre, then there should be some separation from public funding and city officials.

“If I were to win [the mayoral election] on Saturday, there would be a lot of questions asked,” said Flintoff.

Flintoff believes that the oval corporation is too heavily staffed by city officials who cannot possibly hold more than one major position singlehandedly.

The cost may be too high

Ken McLennan, a Richmond resident and anti-oval advocate, believes the oval’s annual reports of “stellar financial performance” are misleading, and the centre itself a drain on taxpayer resources. McLennan believes that the oval’s benefits to the community don’t outweigh the centre’s annual costs.

“Perhaps, the oval is the model for success compared to the . . . underutilized Olympic legacy venues littering the world,” McLennan wrote in an email.

“It is still a major burden on city taxpayers.”

As of December 2017, the oval reported an accumulated surplus of $16.1 million, the same approximate amount as city contributions in the last five years at $3 million in contributions annually. The oval corporation’s 2016 annual report states that all oval surpluses must be invested back into the oval or placed in financial reserves.

Meanwhile, other centres lack capital

There is also question of whether the high contributions of taxpayer money to the oval are to blame for the lack of resources at other Richmond community centres.

In a Sept. 28 letter to the Richmond News, concerned citizen Bruce Neil described worn-out turf fields, cold shower water, dirty change rooms and lack of staffing at Hugh Boyd, Minoru and Richmond Ice Centre. Neil blamed the oval’s generous funding for the discrepancies.

At Thompson Community Centre, where Flintoff serves on the board, Flintoff echoed complaints of no hot water for the showers, as well as no air conditioning during last summer’s heat wave.

“People are complaining,” said Flintoff. “I would assume that if the oval is taking up a lot of money, then somebody isn’t getting a lot of money.”

Some say oval contributions are fair

According to Kin Lo, senior associate dean at UBC’s Sauder School of Business, the oval’s high surpluses barely exceed goals for a balanced budget. Lo added that though it’s unusual for a community centre’s board of directors to hold paid positions, the size of the oval’s operations require it to be run like a Crown corporation.

“We wouldn’t expect volunteers to run BC Hydro,” said Lo.

For the same reason, Lo dismissed concerns that city-owned corporations should not employ city staff.

“If the government owns the oval, then the city of Richmond should be part of the management.”

Richmond’s director of corporate communications, Ted Townsend, said in an email that the oval receives fair annual contributions “just like every other civic facility in Richmond.”

In Townsend’s provided breakdown, the oval receives less in city funding for its size than other community centres at $8.79 per square foot. According to Townsend, the Thompson, West Richmond, City Centre, Hamilton and Sea Island Community Centres all exceed $20 per square foot in city funding.

“Public funding . . . ensures these facilities are available, accessible and affordable for all residents,” Townsend said.

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Project CHEF Stirs Change in the Classroom https://www.langaravoice.ca/project-chef-stirs-change-in-the-classroom/ Wed, 21 Mar 2018 23:39:51 +0000 https://www.langaravoice.ca/?p=32866 When it comes to educating children about nutrition, the recipe for success is to bring cooking lessons into the classroom, according to Project “Cook Healthy Edible Food.”]]>

Reported by Gabrielle Plonka

When it comes to educating children about nutrition, the recipe for success is to bring cooking lessons into the classroom, according to Project “Cook Healthy Edible Food.”

That’s why eight of Vancouver’s top chefs came together on March 13 to compete for the fifth annual Curry Cup and raise $1,500 for Project CHEF.

Curry for a cause

Scents of curry spices could be smelled from outside the Heritage Hall, where 150 gathered to support the one-week cooking seminars Project CHEF teaches in public schools.

Barb Finley, the project’s founder, said the non-profit organization hopes to change youth’s attitudes towards food.

Hand-on learning more effective

“It’s got to be hands-on learning. They have to understand that food that’s good for you also tastes good,” Finley said, adding that after a cooking tutorial, students are put into groups to make meals and eat together.

“Having them taste, touch, smell, create with that food—that’s going to have a far greater impact than showing them a picture,” she said.

Kathy Leigh, a cooking instructor with Project CHEF, said that children are often surprised to learn the content of their favourite snack foods.

“Physically, for them to see how many tablespoons [of sugar] goes into a Coca Cola can, they go ‘Wow, I don’t think I should drink that,” Leigh said.

According to some chefs competing for the Curry Cup, knowledge of nutrition takes its roots from lessons learned as children.

Returning judge Vikram Vij said that he first learned about nutrition while growing up in India, where his grandparents taught him about the medicinal properties of cinnamon, ginger and garlic.

Important to start early

“[It’s important] to teach kids where their food comes from and that’s why I think Project CHEF has such an important and integral role in our society,” Vij said. “It’s teaching the kids not to just go to the market and buy something, but how it grows.”

When it came to teaching his own children about nutrition, Vij focused on the importance of sustainable food sourcing, as well as always eating meals with family.

“It’s the community that makes the biggest difference [to nutrition education],” Vij said. “When you eat together, you nourish each other’s souls and minds.”

Leann Froese, an organizer for the Curry Cup, said the value of enjoying meals together was part of the ethos that inspired the competition. In the restaurant industry, curry is often made for pre-shift “family meals,” and the competition wanted to highlight how food can foster community.

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Subsidies for Green Developments https://www.langaravoice.ca/subsidies-for-green-developments/ Thu, 15 Mar 2018 16:00:11 +0000 https://www.langaravoice.ca/?p=32638 Reported by Gabrielle Plonka A high-end, sustainable rental development in South Vancouver is receiving government subsidization, raising questions as to how public money should be spent amid a housing crisis. Spire Landing, which will be constructed before the end of this year on Fraser and 57th Street, will include 95 rental units, meaning that it […]]]>

Reported by Gabrielle Plonka

A high-end, sustainable rental development in South Vancouver is receiving government subsidization, raising questions as to how public money should be spent amid a housing crisis.

Spire Landing, which will be constructed before the end of this year on Fraser and 57th Street, will include 95 rental units, meaning that it qualifies for the City of Vancouver’s Rental 100 Program and that development costs will covered by public funding. This subsidization allows the units to be rented at below market rates, which is currently $1,730 for a one-bedroom and $2,505 for a two-bedroom in South Vancouver.

The building will also have Passive House certification, which requires extensive insulation to save energy on heating, as well as a rooftop garden, lounge with wrap-around terrace, a communal music room, electric car charging stations and a fitness centre.

According to Josephine Kwan from Spire Development Corporation, the decision to build according to Passive House standards was influenced by the City of Vancouver’s goal to become the greenest city in the world by 2020.

Green standards are the future

“This technology aligns with and is endorsed by the City of Vancouver. They believe that this high-performance standard is the future for Vancouver living,” Kwan said.

According to Tsuriel Somerville, director of the UBC Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate, while Vancouver is in desperate need of more affordable housing, the subsidies for more luxurious developments have long term benefits.

“In theory, environmental sustainability is supposed to be economically sustainable too,” said Sommerville, adding that commercial properties have seen this success due to financial analysis getting done at a higher level and including willing investors.

“Getting residential folks to get on board, even for apartment buildings, can sometimes take a little effort.”

Neighbours fear eviction

Cresencio Paragas, who rents across the street from the Spire Landing site, worries that as more luxurious rental options come in, current residents will be displaced and forced to move.

“I hope the city could also help the small people like us who have been renting for more than ten years, for so high,” said Paragas, who rents his one-bedroom for $1,500 a month. His home is one of three on the block that were recently placed on the market, meaning he’ll be evicted if it’s sold.

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Youth Activists Raise Voices to Call for Justice for Tina Fontaine https://www.langaravoice.ca/youth-activists-raise-voices-to-call-for-justice-for-tina-fontaine/ Wed, 28 Feb 2018 19:26:48 +0000 https://www.langaravoice.ca/?p=32214 Youth activism was a dominant force at Vancouver’s rally for Tina Fontaine where many attendees were post-secondary students.]]>

Reported by Gabrielle Plonka

Canada’s youth are feeling the impact of the deaths of two Indigenous youth and the outcomes of their trials and are mobilizing.

Langara and UBC students — many of whom attended last Saturday’s rally to protest the justice system they feel failed to keep Tina Fontaine,15, and 22-year-old Colton Boushie safe —have been calling on post-secondary institutions to take a stance in the fight for justice for missing and murdered Indigenous youth.

Institutions Must Be Engaged

Kelly Elizabeth White, an Indigenous activist who attended the rally, said that it is essential for post-secondary institutions to use the strength of their voice in supporting justice for Indigenous people.

“They’re the ambassadors in training our future leadership,” White said.

Christie Charles, a Musqueam activist and former Langara College student, highlighted the potential of Vancouver’s population of international students.

“No matter which race you come from, Indian, Chinese, Phillipines, whatever, we’ve all experienced some type of oppression [and] colonization. Use your privilege [and] voice to create positive change,” Charles said. “Everyone in post-secondary, their studies and chosen field can help be the change.

“Lawyers, linguists, artists, nurses, filmmakers, business entrepreneurs, scientists, family studies and community development can all add our multicultural teaching to rise up and live in love and peace.”

Saskatchewan farmer Gerald Stanley stood trial for the second-degree murder of Boushie, a resident of the Cree Red Pheasant First Nation, while convicted criminal Raymond Cormier stood trial for the second-degree murder of Fontaine, from Sagkeeng First Nation, north of Winnipeg. Both men were found not guilty within two weeks of each other.

Students Search for Solutions

Molly Cross-Blanchard, a UBC student who attended the rally, said that there are more open discussions being facilitated on campus on missing and murdered Indigenous youth.

“I don’t think there’s enough of it yet, but it’s happening, so that’s all you can ask for, really,” she said.

Every week, Cross-Blanchard and other students meet on campus to read stories of Indigenous communities written by authors from different treaties. In her arts program, Cross-Blanchard said teachers welcome students to have open dialogue in structured classroom settings about what reconciliation means.

Education is Key

Audrey Siegl, an Indigenous activist who spoke at the rally, said students should stay educated and promote open dialogue with both Indigenous communities and governmental organizations.

“The systems are stacked against us,” Siegl said, noting that until reform of governmental systems that discriminate against Indigenous peoples is achieved, there can be no justice for victims like Fontaine and Boushie. “You get in front and you lead. Hold yourself to the highest standards and hold each other accountable.”

A Broken System

Cicely-Belle Blain, a Black Lives Matter representative, expressed anger at the rally over Fontaine being described as an at-risk youth by the Powerview RCMP.

“They never say it is colonialism, racism, classism, and failing systems that kids like Tina are at risk of,” Blain said.

Fontaine’s father was murdered in 2011, after which she spent time living between family and in foster care before travelling to Winnipeg in 2014 to reconnect with her birth mother.

Fontaine is reported to have gone missing from Child and Family Services custody several times in the following weeks, and was in contact with police and admitted to hospital within days of her disappearance.

According to Charles, Fontaine’s tragic story highlights how the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls is not fulfilling its promise to keep Indigenous women safe.

“Canada is supposed to be in this time of reconciliation,” Charles said. “With Colten Boushie and then Tina Fontaine, it’s a huge step backwards from what we’re trying to accomplish.”

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Rescue Horse in Rehabilitation Gets Opportunity in the Show Ring https://www.langaravoice.ca/rescue-horse-in-rehabilitation-gets-opportunity-in-the-show-ring/ Fri, 23 Feb 2018 16:00:24 +0000 https://www.langaravoice.ca/?p=31919 A rescue horse, once destined to become hamburger, has the tools for a promising career in the show ring.]]>

Reported by Gabrielle Plonka

A rescue horse, once destined to become hamburger, has the tools for a promising career in the show ring.

Rescued from the back of a meat truck in 2015, Foster was brought to Southlands Riding Club for rehabilitation, where staff were surprised to discover the wary dark bay gelding had the makings of a successful competition horse.

Galloping towards a new lifestyle

“I think people say that [Foster has potential] because he’s very flashy,” said trainer Marta Modzelewska, a volunteer at Southlands and has worked with Foster for two years.

According to Modzelewska, Foster has promising rhythm and confirmation of movement, which could win Foster high scores in competition. However, trust issues stemming from a history of abuse have made him nervous and difficult to train. “He’s wary and he’s very stubborn,” said Modzelewska.

“He’s not the kind of horse who wants to please.”

Natalie Naherney, Club Lead at the UBC Equestrian Sports Club, believes that four-year-old Foster will grow out of his nerves under Southlands’ extensive care. The key, she says, is patient training.

“He’s going to be a bit scared,” Naherney said. “It’s just about taking time as they’re learning about being handled.”

According to Naherney, it’s rare to find a rescue horse with Foster’s natural movement. Show horses, she said, are specifically bred with long bloodlines and are very expensive.

“Sometimes you can get really lucky,” Naherney said. “You get this star out of something you weren’t necessarily expecting.”

Foster is one of four rescue horses currently living at Southlands and receiving meticulous attention from volunteers like Modzelewska. The intention, according to club coordinator Dani Craig, is to prepare the horses to be sold. However, not every horse is intended for competition.

“We sell them as whatever the best fit is for them,” Craig said. “It’s like that with horses, you can’t force anything.”

 

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Dandelion Tinctures: A Spring Superfood https://www.langaravoice.ca/dandelion-tinctures-a-spring-superfood/ https://www.langaravoice.ca/dandelion-tinctures-a-spring-superfood/#comments Wed, 07 Feb 2018 20:39:40 +0000 https://www.langaravoice.ca/?p=31589 At an herbal medicine workshop last Sunday at the Moberly Arts & Cultural Centre, students foraged and curated their own dandelion tinctures while learning about the medicinal properties of local flora and fauna. ]]>

By Gabrielle Plonka

Residents in South Vancouver are learning to create tinctures from dandelions, the superfood of the spring, according to an Indigenous herbalist.

At an herbal medicine workshop last Sunday at the Moberly Arts & Cultural Centre, students foraged and curated their own dandelion tinctures while learning about the medicinal properties of local flora and fauna.

Host Lori Snyder showed her class how different parts of the dandelion plant can be beneficial in different ways. The root is high in iron so is good for the liver, the leaves contain potassium which is good for the kidneys, the flower is rich in vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin and you can add the stem to salads for some extra crunch.

Snyder does warn that dandelion contains small amounts of latex so should be avoided by anyone with a latex allergy.

Different perspectives on a common plant

For SFU student Rebekah Stevens, attending the seminar was a way to gain perspective during a tough semester.

“I’ve been really stressed with school, so I figured it would be good to do something like this,” Stevens said. “[It’s about] always appreciating what’s in front of us.”

Snyder’s connection with the Earth comes from her Indigenous heritage. She appreciates the plants that the Earth gives.

“So obviously, the dandelion speaks to you,” Snyder said. “And dandelion, they’re an amazing plant. I’m really super grateful.”

Local food sourcing

Registered herbal therapist, Moira Wyrd said herbal tinctures are beneficial to milder stomach issues.

“Holistic medicine is very good for prevention,” she said. “We’re looking at things that even are more subtle, things that aren’t enough of an issue to even be diagnosed as an issue.”

For Snyder, personal nutrition is about interacting with local food sources.

“When you start to find a taste for wild plants, our bodies will start to crave more,” Snyder said. “Know your history, keep those stories alive… and learn your plants.”

 

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